Wasilla City Council approves plastic bag ban starting July 1

(Photo by eflon/Flickr Creative Commons)

The city council of Wasilla has voted to ban single-use plastic bags in a move to combat litter.

The council voted on Monday night to approve the ordinance that was put forward by Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle, according to Alaska Public Media.

Unlie the pre-filed House Bill 264 by Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, that seeks to impose a 20-cent tax on single-use plastic bags, the Wasilla City Council’s actions are an outright ban on plastic bags. It imposes a warning and fine system for businesses that ignore the ban, escalating to $300 for the third and later offense.

The bill allows businesses to continue handing out paper bags or reusable bags for a free or an additional fee.

The reasoning is a little less bleeding-heart environmentalism than it is an attempt at dealing with rampant litter created by discarded plastic bags caught in the Mat-Su area’s strong winds, Carol Montgomery, the unofficial chairwoman of the Mat-Su Zero Waste Commission’s Plastic Bag Committee, told Alaska Public Media.

“Those bags, you see them skittering across the street everywhere. There’s no way to safely contain plastic bags here in the Valley. There’s no way to really dispose of them without them flying away,” Montgomery told the radio station. “This is a minimal amount of government regulation to solve a really big problem.”

Alaska Public Media also reported that the Plastic Bag Committee plans on handing out free reusable bags and would support a similar ban in the city of Palmer. Similar bans have already been instituted Bethel, Cordova and Hooper Bay.

The lone opposition came from Wasilla Councilman Tim Burney, who told Alaska Public Media, “If I want to shop at a store that has plastic bags, I should have the right to do so.”

Full explanation

Bag Requirements – New City of Wasilla bag requirements, effective July 1, 2018

What the requirements mean

  • Prohibits all establishments in City limits from providing single-use plastic disposable shopping bags for the purpose of carrying away goods from the point of sale.
  • Allows establishments to provide customers with any size recyclable paper or reusable carryout bags.
  • Allows establishments to provide carryout bags made of plastic 2.25 mil or thicker, with or without charge at their discretion.
  • Imposes a warning to the establishment for the first offense, second offense $100, and third offense $300.
  • Promotes reusable carryout bags as the best alternative to single-use plastic bags.

Exemptions

  • Bags used in stores for bulk items or to protect vegetables, meat, frozen foods, and similar items are exempt.
  • Bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage bags or to contain pet waste, or yard waste bags are exempt.

Additional information

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