Recycling technology from Plaswood, a brand of Berry Global, has played a key role in the creation of the first playground made using recycled McDonald’s® Happy Meal® toys, providing a solution that ideally demonstrates the benefits of circular economy principles.

The equipment produced by Plaswood for the Ronald McDonald Charities House Oxford includes an activity course, pyramid den, interactive wall, and activity table, which have been designed to be accessible to all children and help promote both physical and cognitive development. Importantly, all the Plaswood products can be recycled again and again.

Plaswood’s contribution to the project also included the reprocessing of the collected toys by Berry Circular Polymers' recycling facility, the UK’s leading recycler of rigid plastics. The Berry Global UK recycling businesses recycle in excess of 150,000 tonnes of both film and rigid plastics each year.

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 now been given a new lease of life as part of this programme.

The project, coordinated by Circular Design specialist Circular&Co, involved the collected toys first being shredded and any non-plastic materials separated out, this process carried out by Berry Circular Polymers. The plastic was then cleaned and manufactured into Plaswood lumber at the Company’s recycling plant in Dumfries for the creation of the play equipment, which was designed by Red Monkey Play Ltd to suit the characteristics of the material and the specific requirements of Ronald McDonald House Charities UK.

Katherine Lorek-Wallace, Plaswood General Manager commented: “We are very proud to be part of such an important sustainability project. Used plastic is a valuable resource that has numerous second life applications, none more important than helping to create this positive and safe environment for children.”

Plaswood lumber is waterproof and easy to clean, making it more hygienic than traditional timber alternatives. It will also not rot, splinter, or deteriorate over time, and therefore offers the perfect solution for all types of outdoor furniture and equipment. Another recent successful project from the company involved the manufacture of the UK’s first picnic bench made from plastic recovered from a riverbed.

Ronald McDonald House Charities UK 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. The brand-new playground will be available for families staying at the Ronald McDonald Charities House Oxford, located just moments away from the Oxford Children’s Hospital. McDonald’s® has pledged at least 15 more playgrounds, also made from recycled Happy Meal® toys, to be built and installed across the UK in 2021.