Charity supporter and Mum Katie Piper brought some magic to families ahead of Christmas as she officially opened the Ronald McDonald House Charities UK (RMHCUK) playground

  • The playground is the first of at least fifteen to be made from more than one million recycled Happy Meal toys, which will be installed across the UK next year
  • From January 1st 2021 there will be no non-sustainable hard plastic in Happy Meal toys, removing over 3,000 tonnes of plastic from circulation

McDonald’s helped spread some Christmas cheer in the shape of a brand-new playground, made using recycled Happy Meal toys, which will be available for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House Oxford, located just moments away from the Oxford Children’s Hospital. Cameras captured the heart-warming moment Katie Piper officially opened the playground as delighted families took to the new addition to the House, as some face a tough few weeks with their children in hospital over the festive period.

Featuring an activity course, pyramid den, interactive wall and activity table, the park has been designed to be accessible to all children and help promote both physical and cognitive development.

The outdoor activity area will be in the garden of Ronald McDonald House Oxford, a 62 bedroom facility providing free ‘home away from home’ accommodation for families with children in Oxford Children’s Hospital. The playground will provide much needed respite for children being treated at the hospital and their siblings.

Pre-COVID, selected McDonald’s restaurants across the UK and Ireland held a ‘toy amnesty’ collecting in plastic toys to recycle. These toys, along with surplus toys from when the restaurant business closed during the first lockdown, have been given a new lease of life as part of this programme. Once the playground reaches its end of life, it has been designed to ensure it can be recycled again and again.

From January 1st, the Happy Meal will only include soft toys, sustainable paper-based gifts or books as the company looks to viable alternatives to hard plastic. McDonald’s will also be building and installing at least 15 more playgrounds made using recycled Happy Meal toys across the UK next year.  

Beth Hart, VP of Supply Chain & Brand Trust at McDonald’s UK said:We’re incredibly proud to open this playground at Ronald McDonald House Oxford ahead of Christmas. The House provides such an important home away from home for the families at the hospital and we hope this playground provides some much-needed respite. I am delighted that we have been able to give plastic Happy Meal toys a new lease of life with these playgrounds and look forward to seeing more appear around the country in 2021. Removing hard plastic toys from our Happy Meal next year will see more than 3000 tonnes of plastic removed from our supply chain and is a big step in our ongoing sustainability journey.”

Jon Haward, Executive Director at Ronald McDonald House Charities UK said: “Ronald McDonald House Charities UK provides free, ‘home away from home’ accommodation for families who need to stay close to their child when they’re in hospital far from home. We have 11 Houses across the UK, and without this vital service, families would often have to travel hundreds of miles or stay in expensive accommodation. For those going through such a difficult time, our Houses give a sense of normality, with kitchens, living areas, and now, in Ronald McDonald House Oxford, even a playground. We know that both the children at the hospital and their siblings will just love being outdoors and being able to play in a positive, safe environment designed especially for their needs”.

Like many charities, Ronald McDonald House Charities UK has been greatly impacted by Covid-19, with fewer people donating. McDonald’s is reminding customers they are still able to donate in-restaurants at the self-order kiosks or via the charity’s website

From collecting the toys from customers earlier this year in McDonald’s restaurants, right through to finally bringing them to life as a new playground, four suppliers to the restaurant company worked together to help create the play equipment.


Dan Dicker CEO and founder of Circular&Co said: “The objective was to not just give a new life to Happy Meal toys but to turn them into high value, long life products that could then be recycled again and again. There are a lot of stages and for the playground Veolia, McDonald’s waste management company collect the toys then shred them whilst cleverly separating out any non-plastic materials using automated machinery.  Plaswood then melt the plastic and form into extruded sheet or planks.  Red Monkey then designed the play equipment to suit these materials and the specific requirements needed for Ronald McDonald House Charities UK.”


Tim Duret, Director of Sustainable Technology, Veolia UK and Ireland said: “This achievement really shows how we can tackle the plastic recycling challenge and drive a circular economy. By using the latest solutions for treating hard to recycle materials, we can now transform this type of waste into new materials, and give them new life. In this way it marks another valuable contribution to sustainability, helps to support communities and the economy, and takes us a step nearer the UK net zero carbon goal.”

The news comes as the company launched a competition to win Christmas baubles also made from recycled Happy Meal toys.



Notes to Editor

McDonald’s and Ronald McDonald House Charities UK

·         Ronald McDonald House Charities UK has been McDonald’s charity of choice since the Charity was founded in the UK in 1989

·         The Charity’s 11 Houses across the UK are partnered with NHS hospitals and provide families with free accommodation to support them whilst their child is in hospital.

·         Since 1989, McDonald’s and its Franchisees have raised over £85 million for the Charity which goes towards the running and building of Ronald McDonald Houses across the UK

·         As well as donating part of their profits, McDonald’s and its Franchisees also hold annual fundraising days, provide free office space, business resources and advertising

Red Monkey

Red Monkey Play are a leading UK manufacturer of wooden play equipment for schools, nurseries and leisure and are pleased to be manufacturing the products from recycled plastic McDonald toys and will be working on a number of other similar projects over the next few months.


Circular&Co. are pioneers of Circular Design. Since 2003 we have been creating circular products because we know it's a sustainable solution to righting our global wrongs.  As well as our own range of award winning products we advise, develop and deliver circular solutions for brands worldwide, reinventing waste for tomorrow’s Circular product. The future requires solutions. The future is circular.


About Plaswood

Plaswood is part of Berry bpi, a company of Berry Global, and is a leading supplier of recycled plastic furniture and lumber suitable for commercial and domestic applications.


Berry bpi manufactures high performance polythene films and is one of Europe’s largest recyclers of polythene. The company’s advanced and innovative products are used by companies worldwide to grow, harvest, package or protect their goods across the agriculture, food, beverage, healthcare, construction, facilities management, industrial and retail sectors.


About Veolia 

Veolia group is the global leader in optimized resource management. With nearly 179,000 employees worldwide, the Group designs and provides water, waste and energy management solutions which contribute to the sustainable development of communities and industries. Through its three complementary business activities, Veolia helps to develop access to resources, preserve available resources, and to replenish them.

In 2019, the Veolia group supplied 98 million people with drinking water and 67 million people with wastewater service, produced nearly 45 million megawatt hours of energy and treated 50 million metric tons of waste. Veolia Environnement (listed on Paris Euronext: VIE) recorded consolidated revenue of €27.189 billion in 2019 (USD 29.9 billion).


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