Burger King will no longer give away plastic toys with its children's meals and will melt down its existing stock in a move that was triggered by a petition from two Hampshire schoolchildren.
"Free" plastic toys have long been a staple of fast-food marketing, but Burger King said it would no longer hand them out and that it was encouraging customers to take their old ones to a store so it could melt them to make other items.
According to the BBC, the restaurant was responding to a petition from sisters Ella and Caitlin McEwan, who wrote to both Burger King and McDonald's asking them to "think of the environment and stop giving plastic toys with their kids' meals". The petition was signed by more than 500,000 people.
Before Burger King made its announcement, McDonald's responded to the petition by saying it would not ditch plastic toys but would give customers the choice of swapping a toy for a piece of fruit.
While McDonald's chief executive Paul Pomroy said the "gifts provide fun for families and children" and "that's why we'll be running these trials", he added that customers could "choose not to have a toy or gift at all".
However, Burger King said it wanted to take action against plastic pollution and would place bins in its restaurants to collect old toys, with an aim to save 320 tonnes of plastic a year.
The McEwan sisters wrote: "Children only play with the plastic toys they give us for a few minutes before they get thrown away and harm animals and pollute the sea."