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Dumpster diving at McDonalds: Everything You Need to Know!

Dumpster diving at McDonalds

Dumpster diving is beneficial in multiple ways, as it helps save money, and you can earn more with it. You may find a McDonald’s between 2 spots when planning the dumpster diving route.

If you also instantly got the idea of dumpster diving at McDonalds, this article contains everything you need to know.

Dumpster diving at McDonalds

McDonald’s is an American multinational fast-food chain that has multiple stores all across the world. It is known for its good quality fast food, provided almost instantly. However, it is not about the food for everyone, as some people are looking for dumpster diving opportunities. Regarding that, you will find dumpsters at the back of McDonald’s.

Sometimes they may be under camera surveillance. Remember that the main idea of dumpster diving here is not the same as in any other location. It is because McDonald’s serves nothing but fast food. So, even if you dive into their dumpsters, you will only find food and packaging. For some people, that food might be valuable, which makes McDonald’s dumpster diving good for them.

Related article: All you need to know about Dumpster diving

Benefits and Demerits of Dumpster Diving at McDonalds

There are multiple benefits and demerits of McDonald’s dumpster diving. Below is everything you need to know.


The top benefits of McDonald’s dumpster diving include:

Free items cut costs for you.

You can find free edible items at the dumpsters inside McDonald’s. These can help you save your and your pet’s food money.

Multiple items from the menu

McDonald’s menu has multiple items; most of them are in the dumpsters. These items can also vary according to the day you visit.

Less wastage

When you take good food from dumpsters, you are technically reducing the food that is being wasted.


The top demerits of McDonald’s dumpster diving include:

Spoiled items can cause illness.

You never know if something in the dumpster is good enough to eat or has spoiled. Remember that eating spoiled items can cause illness.

Some locations do not allow dumpster diving.

One of the biggest demerits is that some locations legally prohibit you from dumpster diving. In that case, there is no way you can go for it.

Items you find may not be clean.

Even though McDonald’s is known for maintaining cleanliness, the dumpsters may be unsanitary with insects and germs.

Dumpster diving at McDonalds

How does McDonald’s handle their waste?

One of the many reasons why McDonald’s is trusted worldwide is that it also maintains its food quality and cleanliness. So, when you order food and leave the leftovers there, the employees will take them and put them to waste.

Those are not good to be kept anywhere, so they end up in dumpsters. However, that is not the only place where waste at McDonald’s comes from. Different McDonald’s locations have different rules about how long something can be prepared. If they prepare something and it stays unsold for that specific time, it must go to the waste from where it ends up in dumpsters.

What happens when someone returns their food?

It may not be a common event, but sometimes people return their food to McDonald’s. It usually happens when they order something and what is delivered is completely different.

For instance, if a customer orders a sandwich without any sauces and his order has sauces, he may return it for a replacement. As that wrong order cannot be served to any other customer, it ends up in the dumpsters.

Dumpster diving laws at McDonalds

The reason why McDonald’s keeps all the waste in dumpsters before throwing it away is recycling. Most of the packaging is made from cardboard that can be recycled only if clean. So, to ensure that no unauthorized person messes around with the waste, McDonald’s installs cameras over or inside the dumpsters.

In addition to that, it also follows other dumpster diving prevention rules, including installing gates, fences, signs, etc. Lastly, all McDonald’s locations are private properties, with no one having the right to go inside without asking for permission. That’s why McDonald’s strictly follows the private property trespassing laws.

It means if you are caught dumpster diving unlawfully there, according to the dumpster diving laws at McDonalds and the area, you may get fined, some prison time, a warning, and a ban from that location. So, for a safe experience, it is essential to always follow the laws at McDonald’s and never go inside unauthorized areas.

Is dumpster diving illegal at McDonalds?

Technically every McDonald’s location has different views about it. So, if you want one answer to “is dumpster diving illegal at McDonalds” then it would be no. However, it is only true under certain circumstances. For example, McDonald’s may not restrict dumpster divers to specific dumpsters, but it may not allow anyone to dive into them for other dumpsters.

If you check the state or local laws, you may find it is allowed most of the time. At the same time, locks and cameras are installed to protect dumpsters from dumpster divers, which makes it illegal. So, you can best ask for an official’s permission or wait until they move their trash to public property.

Dumpster diving at McDonalds

Items that you may find during McDonald’s dumpster diving

You will mostly find packaging and food items as you dive into these dumpsters. There will be nothing else in there. However, that food can be useful in different cases. Remember that the food items vary between different McDonald’s locations depending on their menu. In most cases, you may find leftover sandwiches, burgers, drinks, shakes, etc.

Apart from these, you may also find food items that are not assembled but in perfect shape. However, they ended up in dumpsters because they went cold and weren’t warm enough to be served.

What could be the best possible use of the items you find?

You may not use the leftover food and drinks in these dumpsters. The best usage for them is to feed your pet. Dogs and cats usually love meat in sandwiches. You may find some breakfast burritos and unassembled patties in clean packaging. You can take those, and you may consume them after assembling them. However, being careful about sanitary conditions is essential.

What can you earn monthly if you dumpster dive at McDonald’s?

The main earning model from dumpster diving comes from the products you can sell online or offline. That’s why it is usually possible for places that sell products. However, the thing about McDonald’s is that it only sells food and drinks. In rare cases, you may find a happy meal toy in these dumpsters. So, none of those items can be sold in most cases.

However, you may get savings your way. For example, if you spend $100 a month on pet food and you start dumpster diving and gathering food for your pets from McDonald’s dumpsters, you can save that money you spend on their food. Similarly, if you find something good enough to eat by yourself, you will also save your meal money.

Although you cannot earn from dumpster diving here at McDonald’s, you can save many amounts this way. Thus, McDonald’s dumpster diving brings benefits for you in multiple ways. If you are looking for earning opportunities, it would be better to plan your route with other nearby locations along with McDonald’s.

Best time to dumpster dive at McDonald’s

The best time to dumpster dive here varies on multiple factors. For instance, going right after breakfast will be best if you want breakfast items. You may find many items in the dumpsters right after McDonald’s closes. Lastly, you may find dumpsters full when many people are at McDonald’s.

Improve your wardrobe with this unique dumpster diving shirt

While dumpster diving at McDonald’s, you must stay comfortable, protected, and stylish.

There is no better way to achieve all these things than getting the “I Love Dumpster Diving” shirt. With its multiple design and color variations, you will never run out of options.

Wearing this shirt for your dumpster diving trips keeps you protected and spreads the message about the benefits of dumpster diving.

The best part is that you can wear it even when not dumpster diving just to spread the message.

Check this out: I Love Dumpster Diving T-shirt

I Love Dumpster Diving

Tips for safety Dumpster diving at McDonalds

 Dumpster diving at any McDonald’s would be a different experience than any other place. So, you must care for your safety. Here are some of the best tips that will help you out:

  • Be careful about anything that prohibits you from entering the McDonald’s property. If the dumpsters are present on private property, you have no right to go inside.
  • If you find the dumpsters have locks or cameras for protection, you don’t want to mess around with those dumpsters.
  • Wear gloves before entering dumpsters because you want to keep your hands clean.
  • Whenever you find something to eat from the dumpsters, always check for it to be clean and safe before you eat it yourself or feed it to your pets.
  • Always try to go for fresh items in the trash because the old ones may have spoiled.

While visiting McDonald’s for dumpster diving, you must follow all these tips for the best safety and overall experience.

Related article: A complete guide on Dumpster Diving Tips that you never knew before

Final Words

Dumpster diving is not always about earning; sometimes, you may find other uses for the things you find. For example, when dumpster diving at McDonalds, you may not find anything to sell but can find many good items to eat or feed your pets.

However, be careful about the rules at McDonald’s to enjoy a safe experience.