In an adjustment to the Anchorage plastic bag ban ordinance, the Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday night added to the types of businesses that are exempt from the ban.
Those carve-out exemptions are for restaurants and temporary vendors, such as farmers market or craft bazaar vendors. They are completely exempt from the plastic bag ban and do not need to charge for bags, unlike other retailers.
For the rest of merchants, however, they are still required to charge for paper bags, in spite of opposition from some store owners on Tuesday, who said it’s not the government’s role to require merchants to charge for anything and it’s causing customers to have bad feelings toward the stores, which have no choice but to charge.
The rationale given by Assembly member Chris Constant for the fast-food-and-vendor exemption is that it’s a hassle for those temporary merchants to have to charge separately for bags.
The bag ban was passed by the Assembly in 2018, but implementation was delayed until Sept. 15, 2019. The liberal majority on the Assembly is trying to change the public’s behavior by encouraging people to take their own bags into stores with them.
The ban seems to have changed behavior, but not just in the ways expected: Merchants and consumers report to Must Read Alaska that since the bag ban was implemented, buying habits have changed. Sales are down and shoplifting is up.