Palmer’s City Council has voted to phase out the commercial distribution of disposable plastic shopping bags by next year, following a similar vote earlier this year in neighboring Wasilla.

According to City Clerk Norma Alley, the ordinance was adopted without amendments by council members at a meeting Tuesday night. Only one council member present, Steve Carrington, voted against it.

Eighteen people testified on the ban at Tuesday’s meeting, Alley said, and another 18 letters regarding it were received by the council -- all of them in support.

The Mat-Su Zero Waste Coalition has urged officials in the region to ban plastic bags, saying they’re a dangerous to animals and unsightly when they’re blown from landfills by high winds. Wasilla’s City Council passed a plastic bag ban in January, after heavily attended meetings which drew more than four dozen letters – all but one in favor.

Alley noted the far-reaching impact of Tuesday’s ordinance, as well as the fact that the ordinance doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2019.

“This will impact our [Alaska State Fair],” Alley said. “We have over six months of transition and opportunity for the local businesses to prepare and get ready for distribution of other means (of carrying goods).”

The ordinance only bans shopping bags less than four thousandths of an inch thick, with exceptions for trash, produce and bakery bags.

Once the bag ban is in effect, local businesses still distributing the banned bags will initially receive warnings. Second and third offenses will be punishable with fines of $100 and $300 respectively.

Heather Hintze and Lauren Maxwell contributed information to this story.

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