The Anchorage Assembly’s ban on plastic bags will undergo changes if the assembly approves them at its Oct. 8 regular meeting.
The bag ban, which affects retailers and shoppers, prohibits single-use plastic bags, but allows retailers to offer paper bags — but they are required to charge a fee for them.
The problem with the government-mandated fee became apparent on the first day the ban was implemented — Sept. 15. As people began to frequent fast-food restaurants, they found they were being charged for the paper bag they had always received to hold their French fries, burgers and ketchup packages. And they were mad at having to pay an extra 10 cents for the bag.
The Assembly is looking to make adjustments with “Ordinance No. AO 2019-121, amending Anchorage Municipal Code Section 15.95.020, Prohibition on providing or distributing plastic shopping bags; fees for alternative bags; exceptions.”
The Assembly is likely to clarify that retail sellers are not required to provide alternative bags, but must charge a fee when they do. And the law will likely exempt some businesses like fast-food restaurants.
Sit-down restaurants are facing their own problems, as they try to package diners’ leftovers. Will they also receive an exemption or simply move to bigger cardboard boxes for diners to take home their meals? Are bakers still going to have to charge for the bag they provide to their customers for donuts and pastries?
A public hearing on the changes to the bag ban will be the subject of a public hearing on Oct. 8. The Assembly meeting begins at 6 pm, at the Loussac Library Assembly Chambers, 3600 Denali Street.