Anchorage food vendors now exempt from plastic bag ban


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.

[Read: Assembly consider tweaks to bag ban]


  1. I know it’s only 10 cents a bag, but I reconsider how much I am buying on a quick trip since I know I’ll be holding it all in my arms when I leave the cash register. Unintended consequences. I would not like to be the grocery store person smiling weakly as they tack on more costs for something that is actually a renewable resource – paper!

  2. I, for one like the ban. I buy so much less since it went into effect. If I can’t carry it in one hand then I don’t buy it. Not sure about carving out some retailers while enforcing it on others, doesn’t seem equitable to me. Oh, and as the representative said, maybe this will annoy voters enough to change their behavior, maybe they won’t vote the same people back into office. (So I rant)

    • Exactly Kevin! That is the behavior change I for one am hoping for – a change in voting habits.

    • So you shop before every meal, or every day? Doubt it, but I don’t think that is even close to a reasonable solution for the average family shopper. Strikes me as more than a little elitist.

  3. Seems like grocery stores, deli’s, hot dog stands, all “food vendors” would qualify for the ‘exemption’. Little discrimination going on? Buddies, investment in the ‘exempted’ vendors? I’ll bet dim ‘food vendor’ operations get exempted at a slightly faster/easier rate than others. Aren’t the ‘hassles’ of charging extra for paper bags equal for all vendors and customers, ‘fast food’ or not? A tax for everyone but certain ones who don’t like hassle? What’s up with that, Anchorage? Where’s ACLU for this unfair treatment of targeted businesses? What, exactly, constitutes “fast food”? If you have quick cooks running to and fro and wait staff on roller skates in a restaurant, deli or diner, is that “fast food”? Is there a clock/timer that declares what food is fast and what food is too slow for the exemption? Who, exactly, decides? Lots of questions for the “taxers”. Wouldn’t it be better to scrap the bag tax altogether, instead of discriminating against certain businesses and establishments and creating liability for the city, “ass”embly and little mayor?

    • My hot dog stand is called “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”, my hotdogs come out really fast. They are HUUUGE. I wonder if I am on the exemption list? Did they time me? [i don’t have a hot dog stand, just a point]

  4. Dumb and dumber. If these bags are so damn terrible, then why does anyone get to use them? Why the double standard?

  5. The Anchorage Assembly members and Mayor that support this bag ban are authoritarians and haters of freedom. And never mind the huge hypocracy. Big Democrat donors own fast food restaurants in Anchorage. Berkowitz owns a restaurant that sends home left overs in paper boxes for no charge. Isn’t Weddleton just giving out thicker plastic bags at his comic book stores?

    • I’d like to know which businesses—so I can avoid those and reward fellow Conservatives with my hard-earned money. Thanks!

  6. Perhaps people should be charged ten cents for each plastic bag used and nothing for paper bags. That would provide incentive to reduce plastic waste without all the hard feelings generated by the new law.

  7. It is a completely ridiculous ban imposed upon us all. The reusable bag folks that are cheering the ban already used reusable bags. What they are cheering is the fact that now it is imposed on everyone and they have a ‘win’. The merchants need to get pissed enough to storm the assembly – like the socialists storm the supreme court on Kavanaugh. I know, reasonable minds don’t usually operate that way, but maybe they need a dose of their own medicine. I’m starting to feel like we are at the beginning of a Chinese detention camp – the ones that no one can seem to talk about – to re-educate our minds.
    At Fred Meyer the other day – and as others have commented, with what can fit in my purse or arms – I had some thoughts as shoppers were passing in and out of the store. First, (as I passed a young woman putting on fingernail polish from the rack, then returning the bottle to said rack), I noticed the extra employee at the checkout stands that is bagging groceries. Never had those before. Seems expensive. As I was leaving the store, people were walking out, lots of people, with cartloads of groceries and goods NOT in bags. I mean LOADS of goods in carts and just walking out of the store. My first thought was “did they pay for that?” There was a young man in a bright yellow coat standing nearby the door, perhaps some sort of security or greeter type, but he was mostly looking at his phone.
    The shoplifting must have gone up tremendously with this bag ban. There is no way the stores can keep up with what has been paid for and what hasn’t. No one is there checking for receipts. All of this is passed back on to us consumers – us HONEST PAYING consumers.
    These socialists on the assembly have got to go. Thank goodness Berkowitz is terming out but you know he has his eyes set on something. He and Begich have a political laboratory somewhere, where they have beakers of bad ideas boiling as I type this. They have no other life plan other than to suck the lifeblood out of other people and their money to stay in power.
    It is these dumb little wins – plastic bags – then what? Be careful what you wish for.

  8. With the exception of Duluth, I don’t shop in Anchorage anymore. The valley or the base is where I can get all the bags I want. To hell with those Pinko Commies in Los Anchorage!

  9. Plastic bags compress far greater in a land fill and although they don’t decompose as quickly as paper, they ain’t going anywhere. The amount of carbon it takes to make paper bags is several times greater and more expensive than plastic bags and, oh, what about all the tree killing. Ridiculous!

      • Yes, but the mature tree harvested for the production of paper products absorbs much more CO2 than the sapling planted to replace it. And again, the production costs and carbon expenditure used in making the product is significantly greater than what it takes to make a little plastic bag. Before plastic bags, stores used paper bags without a charge, now the government is mandating they charge – ridiculous!

  10. I get the idea behind the ban but I don’t think it’s actually going to be effective. Some of the ban supporters here say they only buy what they can carry out of the store. Doesn’t that just mean more trips to the store overall? In the end, you still need to buy the same amount of groceries but now your using more gas. We’re just trading plastic pollution for air pollution. I don’t mind using paper bags, I just don’t get the rationale for charging 10 cents per bag. I personally don’t mind because it doesn’t exactly break the bank but clearly a lot of people actively avoid it.

  11. Alaska’s unemployment rate is at 6.2%, while nationally it is at 3.7 percent. With BP leaving state, uncertainty in public sector jobs, the end of the fishing/construction season, and the growth of online shopping it is not a stretch to assume sales numbers at Anchorage retailers would be down. The poor economy, cuts in welfare programs, and opioid crisis are likely contributing factors to the increase in shop lifting.

    But of course “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.” This is a spurious correlation.

    Does Must Read Alaska actually expect people to believe that a $.10 charge for bags, easily avoided by brining your own basket, box, or bag, is the reason for a downturn in sales and an upswing in shoplifting?!!! That is asinine.

    • I watched a gal fill up her bag in the store, go through the self-check-out, and ring up half the items and walk right out of the store. I mentioned it to the manager who said he sees it all the time now, can hardly keep up. As for me, I put items back today when the clerk informed me it would be $.15 for the paper bag. So maybe I’m asinine, Jeremy, but I’m one of those who are now saving a lot of money because I just make more careful choices about what I need, if I don’t happen to have a bag with me.

      • They did that move before the ban. It’s cartloads of non-bagged items that don’t go through any checkpoint that really is the issue. Just load the cart up and walk out the door. No bags allowed so none expected to be seen around the goods in the cart, right? It’s frigging ridiculous.

  12. I like the ban and I’m glad it’s in place. I’ve already seen such a positive impact…. this time of last year trees were littered with blow away plastic bags. There haven’t been nearly as many, and that’s a good thing!

  13. Someone mentioned a lot of Democrat donors own fast food restaurants in ANC. I’d like to know which business—so my family and friends can avoid those and reward fellow Conservatives with our hard-earned money. Thanks!

  14. There exists no legal ability for any government agency to require any business to charge a fee for any product or service. The businesses can tell the assembly to go pound sand and no court would even take up the case should the city try to enforce it. Patently unconstitutional.

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