At least three more major companies are rethinking plastic.
U.K. restaurants of the Burger King chain will remove all plastic toys from children’s meals starting this week to help reduce waste. U.S. stores aren’t following suit, yet.
McDonald’s /zigman2/quotes/203508018/composite MCD +0.59% has said it will allow parents to swap Happy Meal toys for a bag of fruit in selected U.K. stores. In early 2020, the chain will also run a trial offering customers a choice between a book and a plastic toy.
A Change.org petition, calling on Burger King, owned by Restaurant Brands International /zigman2/quotes/202094900/composite QSR +2.31% , and McDonald’s to “think of the environment and stop giving plastic toys with their kids meals,” has attracted half a million signatures.
Burger King U.K. CEO Alasdair Murdoch told the Telegraph: “We’re making a start. This is a step in the right direction. If it makes other competitors move their practices forward, that can only be a good thing.”
The restaurant estimates the toy ban will save 320 metric tons of plastic waste a year, it told the Independent.
The policy changes come in the days leading up to the much-publicized United Nations “climate crisis” meeting in New York on Sept. 23. That gathering has encouraged a flurry of activism, including another walkout on Friday by students and workers at companies, Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN +1.17% among them, to bring attention to the climate issue.
Meanwhile, Facebook /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB +3.03% will ban single-use plastic water bottles at all of its new offices worldwide, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The social-media giant will install water-filling stations at those locations in the San Francisco Bay area, as well as at new offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and Austin, Texas. The company’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters is also being retrofitted with filling stations, with the goal of cutting local plastic-bottle usage in half.
The ban appears to be the largest among private employers, the Chronicle said. Facebook had nearly 40,000 employees as of June.
Earlier this summer, San Francisco International Airport, one of the largest in the country, said it would ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles, a move that the airport has claimed is the first such change for its type of facility. Flavored water sold in bottles will be an exception, and the airport has installed more than 100 free water-bottle-filling stations.
Several companies across a range of industries, including Starbucks /zigman2/quotes/207508890/composite SBUX +0.42% , Disney /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS +1.25% , American Airlines /zigman2/quotes/209207041/composite AAL +5.81% and Marriott International /zigman2/quotes/200170042/composite MAR +7.38% , have planned plastic straws. It’s been a policy change not without issue; for one thing, recycling centers are challenged to process thicker paper straw alternatives that are getting stuck in the machinery.