Does McDonald's Seriously Charge Customers For Bags?

A McDonald's bag
A McDonald's bag - Klymenko Mariia/Shutterstock

It's no secret that McDonald's has become increasingly more expensive in the past few years. A study conducted by FinanceBuzz found that McDonald's menu prices increased an average of 100% in the past 10 years due to inflation. A Quarter Pounder with cheese meal that cost $5.39 in 2014 is a whopping $11.99 in 2024 — and we don't even want to know how these prices compare to how cheap McDonald's was when it first opened. Some customers have even noticed a bag fee attached to their receipt, while others have been outright asked if they would like a paper bag to hold their food for an extra charge.

McDonald's fans have taken to social media to share their discoveries and warn others about the possible up-charge for a bag. The reported costs of a bag varies greatly depending on McDonald's location, but customers may still notice a difference in their usual totals. After experiencing this new policy change for themselves, one creator on TikTok claimed that if you say "no" to a bag charge at the drive thru, employees will hand you a plastic container with each one of your items that you individually must grab and find a place for in your car before driving away. Aside from the stress of ensuring that most of your fries don't end up on the floor of your car by the time you get home, customers have grown increasingly confused by this new policy, wondering if and when their local McDonald's will implement these new bag policies.

Read more: The Ultimate Ranking Of American Fast Food Restaurants

Bag Charge Fees May Depend On Where You Live

A customer grabs McDonald's bag from drive thru
A customer grabs McDonald's bag from drive thru - Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Next time you order at McDonald's, you should know that you might be charged a bag fee depending on the location you visit. This policy was a shock to customers, as McDonald's has never before seen their recognizable to-go bags as optional. Customers everywhere from Pittsburgh to the UK and even parts of Canada have seen this shocking extra fee, however, this is not a company policy set in place by the fast food chain. If McDonald's is charging you for bags, it is likely due to city, state, or regional laws regarding plastic bag policy changes. There are more McDonald's locations than there are hospitals in the United States alone, and most of them have very different policies based on where they are located. In an effort to become more environmentally conscious, many areas have passed laws that place a fee on plastic bags at grocery stores, restaurants, and other shopping establishments, hoping to encourage the use of reusable bags that shoppers can bring from home.

For example, the Canadian province of British Columbia banned single-use plastic, which went fully into effect in early 2024. According to the company website, McDonald's locations in Wales and Scotland also have a "legal obligation" based on regional laws to charge for bags. This has led to some customers experiencing bag fees and the chance to opt out of a bag altogether, while others still enjoyed the privilege of a free holder for their food and the occasional extra fry at the bottom of the bag.

Customers Are Confused Why McDonald's Paper Bags Are A Part Of A Plastic Ban

McDonald's bag in car
McDonald's bag in car - Willowpix/Getty Images

While the ban of single use plastic is a win for the environment, some customers are confused as to why these local laws are impacting their paper fast food bags. When the plastic bag law went into effect in Pittsburgh, some critics claimed that McDonald's utilized the policy to make even more money by charging for their paper bags. Per CBS News, KDKA-TV spoke with a McDonald's spokesperson who claimed the locations had "no choice ... The new Pittsburgh ordinance requires it to charge customers 10 cents for each paper bag." One TikTok user and former corporate chef for McDonald's also reported on the bag fee phenomenon, claiming that McDonald's isn't charging customers for bags as a means of profit. Likely, these policies are either to remain eco-friendly — the creator shared their positive outlook on this change, saying, "If you don't need a bag ... how about we don't waste them and not give them to you?"

However, the eco-impact argument for charging a bag fee may not make a whole lot of sense, since McDonald's bags are historically made of recyclable paper. On the McDonald's corporate website, it boasts that "approximately 81.0% of our primary guest packaging materials and 97.2% of our primary fiber packaging comes from recycled or certified sources as of year-end 2022." Regardless of the reason, customers at certain locations may want to remember their reusable bags before hitting up the McDonald's drive thru.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.