From McDonald’s cups to Happy Meal®: a sustainable journey

An exciting next step in the journey to move to more sustainable Happy Meal® Toys by the end of 2025, The Marketing Store and McDonald’s are giving cold cups a new life by turning them into Happy Meal® books. In February, McDonald's customers in Germany received one of seven children’s books made up of 40% recycled cold cup materials with stories focused on the environment and nature.  


This innovative Happy Meal® is not only the first of its kind but an important means of promoting closed-loop recycling to give used material a unique second life. With this circular innovation, we utilised materials that potentially would have been recycled into producing single use or disposable products, such as paper towels, and transformed them into Happy Meal® books that can be enjoyed time and time again before being passed on, creating a long-lasting product.


How does this work? In the simplest terms, waste generated during cup production, such as a faulty cup, is combined with recycled collected cups from McDonald's stores and then pressed. Next, the recycled cups are washed, and the pure paper pulp is separated and transformed into larger reams of paper. These are used to create Happy Meal® books, protecting trees and the environment twice over. 


Recycling Journey HM.png


“We are so excited to delight our young customers with this innovative sustainable solution,” notes The Marketing Store's Global Head of Sustainability, Pamela Stathaki. “This is not just a great example of circular economy brought to life but most importantly it shows the younger generation how by recycling in restaurants they can directly have an impact. It gives them the opportunity to make a difference through a simple behaviour.”


Check out this video for more on this innovative promotion and keep an eye out for future sustainable programs at McDonald's.




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