M&S defends Little Shop toy giveaway despite backlash
Marks & Spencer says a controversial giveaway plastic toy campaign will continue despite protests from environment-conscious customers.
The retailer is offering miniature replicas of its most popular food items in a promotion called Little Shop.
There are 25 of the toys and shoppers get one free for every £20 spent.
But some shoppers have taken to social media to denounce M&S for producing needless plastic waste, while others have complained about the high cost.
Each toy comes in a wrapper, making it impossible to see which one it is until it is opened.
Even if it were possible to be sure of getting a different one every time, it would still be necessary to spend a minimum of £500 to get a complete set.
The store chain's head of sustainability, Carmel McQuaid, has appeared in a YouTube video in an effort to reassure customers that the promotion will not harm the environment.
She said that sustainability was "at the heart" of the Little Shop collectables and that M&S would recycle any unwanted toys.
But one customer commented: "Major fail M&S who clearly are not listening to the public tide of anti-single use plastic."
The campaign has also been criticised on other social media platforms, including Facebook and Mumsnet.
One visitor to the M&S Facebook page said: "M&S, you've completely missed the point. Yes, recycling is very important, but it's about stopping making the pointless plastic rubbish in the first place."
An M&S spokesperson told the BBC the toys were "designed to be used again and again", but there were collection boxes in every store for those who wanted to return them for recycling.
The retailer is also running swap events where people can exchange duplicates and obtain the toys they have missed.
The spokesperson said the promotion was part of M&S's strategy to be "more relevant to the family customer".
As for the high cost of collecting all the items, the spokesperson said M&S was planning additional promotions allowing shoppers to get more toys for a lower cost.