Some Canadian McDonald's Charge For To-Go Bags, Baffling Customers

A paper to-go bag might seem like the most innocuous item in your McDonald's drive-thru order, but it's the culprit behind a 15-cent charge at some Canadian locations of the chain. Puzzled customers have taken to social media to share their thoughts on the new fee, which was most recently introduced in Edmonton, Alberta this July (via CTV Edmonton). It's part of a green regulation on all food establishments that aims to eliminate single-use plastics while introducing fees on paper bags and other measures.

One TikToker vented about the new bag fee, sharing a photo of a drive-thru window that explained the recent change: "As of July 1, 2023, as required by the City of Edmonton, a 15 cent charge will be applied to each take-out bag." The fee even showed up as Reddit rant fuel on the subreddit r/mildlyinfuriating.

Hoping to avoid what they see as an unnecessary fee, Canadian McDonald's customers have gotten resourceful. In one TikTok, an Edmonton customer shows what happened when they refused to pay the bag fee: They were directed to park and wait as a worker carried their food out to them in a plastic container and handed the items out one by one. "All of this over a 0.15¢ bag. Grow up McDonalds. Half our fries spilled into their container," the poster wrote. Another video shared a more wholesome solution, where the drive-thru worker helped a customer use the paper placemat from a dine-in tray to wrap her food and move it into her car. 

The bag fee doesn't appear to be going anywhere; neither are the frustrated customers

"Just hand me my food," one Edmonton TikToker ranted, "I don't need a bag." Commenters shared her frustrations, with one questioning the reasoning: "It's already paper!? Like it's not even plastic."


The bag only holds my food long enough for it to get passed through the window... I dont need it

♬ original sound – Lexy | Mom/Lifestyle 🤍

"What next?? Are we going to be charged for the cup they put our drinks in too? How the hell?!" another commenter wrote. In fact, at least one other Canadian city has gone that far. Last year, Vancouver began to implement a 2020 ordinance that banned single-use plastic bags and taxed the use of paper disposables, including bags and cups. This meant that McDonald's customers had to start paying 15 cents for their paper takeout bags and 25 cents for cups. While the cup fee has since been reversed, the bag fee remains (via CBC).

While some Canadians blamed McDonald's, the bag tax is the product of local laws. However, rather than going to the city, the money goes directly to the restaurant. The fee is, in part, designed to help small businesses pay for paper bags, which are more expensive than now-banned plastic, and pass on waste costs to customers. 

The policy is in the name of more eco-friendly packaging choices, but annoyance is understandable, especially when the charge is applied at a fast-food chain like McDonald's that has long used paper bags and has no sustainable alternative. Now, Canadian customers will have to decide if they'll pay it or get creative.