Wasilla bans plastic bags, and Rep. Josephson wants to tax the rest


The Wasilla City Council on Monday voted to ban single-use plastic bags. That is, the council banned them from being issued by stores inside the city limits. Stores outside the city, and there are many, may continue to use them.

The lone dissenting vote on the council was from Tim Burney, who said on Facebook that he recently chose to not use plastic bags himself, “But does that give me the right as a council member to dictate to you that you can’t? This has not as much to do with the bag itself, but more of another nibble at our liberty. Frustrated is an understatement.”

Proponents of the ban said that a large number of valley residents support the ban on plastic bags because of the risk they pose to wildlife and their non biodegradable nature is a blight on the landscape.

Homer, Bethel, Cordova, and Hooper Bay have all banned single-use plastic bags. (Homer overturned its bag ban, however.)

In November, 2016, California became the first state to enact a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at large retail stores, but the state law had to battle it out first with a voter referendum, Prop. 67. The legislation also required a 10 cent minimum charge for recycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags, and compostable bags at some establishments.

Hawaii’s most populous counties all prohibit non-biodegradable plastic bags at checkout, as well as paper bags containing less than 40 percent recycled material. Each county has some variation on it and legislation is pending to make the laws all uniform.

In 2009, the District of Columbia enacted a law to ban plastic bags. Massachusetts’ ban will go into effect in August.

Some of the major cities around the country that have plastic bag bans include Austin, Tex; Cambridge, Mass.; Chicago; Los Angeles; Seattle; San Francisco; Boulder, Colo.; and New York City.


Meanwhile, at the legislative level, Rep. Andy Josephson, an Anchorage Democrat, has introduced HB 264 to tax disposable shopping bags. Calling it a fee, the legislation would cost shoppers 20 cents for every single-use bag — plastic or paper — used to take their purchases from stores. According to the legislation, the State would take 15 cents and leave 5 cents for the store owner for his or her trouble.

The bill has no companion bill on the Senate side but will likely earn co-sponsors from House Democrats.

[Read HB 264 here]



  1. So sad, but true with one correction. The progressive city of Homer repealed their ban after they observed all of the unintended consequences.

      • Increased costs for bags passed on to consumers. Increased garbage going into the landfill because of the amount of paper bags. Loss of inventory space for stores because it takes up a lot more space to store paper bags than plastic ones. Increased costs for local, small businesses because paper bags cost 10 – 20 times what plastic bag cost when they are buying low numbers of them. There are more, such as the polarizing nature of a ban and the loss of convenience for both the businesses and consumers. There are many reasons why Homer voters repealed the ban. Hopefully, some in Wasilla will start the repeal process soon.

      • The bag ban was overturned by voter initiative (56%/44%) and the reason most cited was the coercive nature of the ban.

  2. The Homer bag ban was predicated on a situation that didn’t really exist. It was claimed that the bass were blowing around and hanging in the trees. That wasn’t true. The whole town and area recycles everything. It was just a ploy by the City Council.

  3. It always says “single-use” bags. Well, I use plastic grocery bags over and over. For the litter box, to carry my lunch in, to line small trashcans, wrap up a leaky diaper, etc. So what will I use now for those things? Am I supposed to buy expensive trash bags in a box for that? Also, what about small non-profits like thrift stores? Everything has a footprint. If we are required to purchase the small totebags to carry things in, those have a cost too. They are either made out of cotton or polyester, each having a cost to the environment. It’s not just about plastic bags flying around or going into the oceans, streams, etc., it also has to do with the footprint of the making of any product.

    • Excellent point! It is estimated that depending on how the “multi-use” bag is made, one must use it 150-300 times to avoid the same environment impact as the “single-use” bag.

    • Yes, everything has a footprint but I do try to limit my household impact for the sake of the environment for generations to come.
      While I once reused plastic bags and recycle them, after first knoting them in the hopes they would be less likely to get caught up by the wind, I no longer believe these are the best options.
      Our household has changed to alternative options. I have bought sturdy canvas bags through thrift stores, spending no more than a dollar on each.
      These bags, being second hand already, now have a second life in our household and are used for all our shopping. These bags have lasted us for years. I haven’t had to buy any in over three years now.
      While grocery shopping one bag is used for meats, others solely for produce, and others for prepackaged items. Once emptied, the bags go directly into the laundry bin for the next full wash. We’ve plenty next to the front door or in the automobiles for our next shopping trip.
      On the off chance we forget a bag while shopping, we simply carry the items out by hand or load them back into the cart to deliver them to our car.
      I no longer line my smaller trash bins or my litter boxes with bags. These are containers in and of themselves and can easily be rinsed, cleaned, and/or sterilised on a regular basis. Weekly our garbage goes into the one large trash can we keep lined before going out. And if anything is especially messy, as in our children’s slim, it simply goes directly into this lined bin.
      No more adding little plastic bags of garbage to a larger plastic bag of garbage that will only end up in an even larger plastic lined cell at the local dump.
      I still recylce any plastic bags that come into our household, along with any recyclable items I am able. This not a very convenient thing to do around here in particular but I hope well worth the effort as our landfill can only hold so much and China, which once took so much of the world’s garbage has changed it’s laws. This bag ban is just one tiny step towards reducing unnecessary and unsightly litter but I believe it is a step worth taking and I hope others will be open to trying it.

      • I agree with everything you wrote here J. Johnson except for the last sentence. You “…hope others will be open to trying it.” except that it doesn’t matter if they are open or not. They are now forced to try it. Do you see that this isn’t really about bags, it is about tyranny.

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