Anchorage bag ban: The exceptions to the rule
Single-use plastic bags will soon be a thing of the past in Anchorage.
The Assembly voted 9-2 to ban disposable shopping bags at retailers around the Municipality of Anchorage. The ban applies to disposable shopping bags of all thickness -- but not the plastic bags you would use to package produce or meat.
Retailers can charge 10 cents per paper bag they give out, but low-income people who rely on food assistance will be exempt. Some say they're in favor of the Assembly taking this step.
The bins at the Anchorage Recycling Center are stuffed full with plastic bags. Some folks hope the Assembly's ban on plastic will cut down on the number of bags here -- by encouraging people to bring reusable, canvas bags.
"At home, I have 20 cloth bags that should be in my car and going to the grocery store," said Girdwood resident Catherine McDermott. "Hopefully, I'll get my habits a little bit more fine-tuned."
Assemblyman Christopher Constant was a big proponent of the ban. He says 90 percent of the feedback he's received has been positive.
However, some are critical that the Assembly took time to consider bags when there are other issues to focus on like crime and homelessness.
"The fact is we have a very robust agenda at every meeting and we're tackling complex issues all the time," Constant said. "You don't stop working on sidewalks and road repairs because you have a crime problem. You tackle these issues as best you can with the resources we have."
Constant says the ban not only cuts down the number of bags going into the community but also amount of pollution the bags cause as well.
"I drive between here and Girdwood and you see them way out of the trees," said Anchorage resident Ida Dailey. "It's going to be more work for us but as far as the environment, it's a good thing."
Proponents say it's only a matter of time before more communities make similar laws; they're glad anchorage decided to make the change now.
The Anchorage bag ban goes into effect on March 1, 2019
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