Over the next eight weeks, Waitrose will remove magazines from shop shelves which contain single-use plastic toys.

The retailer said the free plastic toys have a short lifespan and cannot easily be recycled.

It said the move was inspired by Skye, a 10-year-old from Gwynedd, who is on a crusade to persuade publishers to stop giving away cheap plastic toys in children’s magazines.

Addressing publishers via her online petition, Skye Neville said she was “very concerned” by the amount of plastic waste being washed out to sea and that she hoped publishers would cease giving away plastic toys with their magazines.

“I really enjoy reading the magazines… but I just want the magazine,” Skye said.

“I don’t want or need the cheap plastic toys which are either played with for a few minutes or break on the first use and [are] then thrown away.”

“Any ‘gifts’ that the magazines offer should be sustainable and ethical so that we can protect our planet for us and future generations,” she added.

Marija Rompani, Partner and Director of Sustainability and Ethics at Waitrose, said: “While we know these magazines are popular with children, some of the unnecessary plastic attached to them has become really excessive.”

“Many in the younger generation really care about the planet and are the ones inheriting the problem of plastic pollution.”

“We urge publishers to find alternatives, and other retailers to follow our lead in ending the pointless plastic that comes with children’s magazines.”

Publishers of popular children’s titles such as Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol and Pokémon frequently include plastic toys in an effort to enhance the magazines’ appeal in the eyes of young readers.

Waitrose has written to magazine distributors giving them eight weeks’ notice of the policy, asking for sustainable alternatives to plastic toys and warning that going forward they will not sell copies that contain disposable items.

The ban will not include educational or reusable craft items which are designed to be used many times, such as colouring pens and pencils, and collectable models.

It is the latest move by the supermarket to cut down on single-use plastic, which has also seen it end the sale of Christmas crackers with plastic toys or glitter, and has a push to make all its own-label packaging recycled, reusable, or home compostable by 2023.

Waitrose recently ranked first in Greenpeace’s annual league table, for the second year in a row, which looks at how supermarkets are reducing use of single-use plastics.

Skye’s petition calling for the toys to be scrapped attracted almost 3,000 signatures, with politicians stepping in to help raise her campaign in Parliament.

Welsh Government minister Eluned Morgan has written to magazine publishers, while Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville-Roberts raised the matter in the House of Commons.

“These toys are marketed at children, whose environmental future we are trying to protect,” said Ms Morgan.

“Some plastics can last decades – if not centuries – in our environment. They should be environmentally friendly and serve an educational purpose.”

Children’s plastics campaigns have been successful in the past. In 2019, Burger King stopped including plastic toys in their children’s meals and McDonald’s gave children options of books with Happy Meals, after a campaign by two sisters.


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