Bags be gone? Alaska's largest city eyes plastic bag ban at tonight's Assembly meeting

Published: Jul. 17, 2018 at 11:49 AM AKDT
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Tuesday night the Anchorage Assembly will introduce an ordinance that would ban plastic bags.

One of the sponsors, Assembly member Dick Traini, says it's a sign of the times and important to protecting the environment.

"What we want to do is get rid of all the plastics that are in our oceans and in our streams and they are an ugly sight, not to mention what it does to the marine life," Traini said.

The ordinance is similar to one in Wasilla, although an amendment by Traini would alter it slightly for plastic bag thickness. Traini says if adopted, the ban would start in January of next year, which would allow companies to use up the supply of bags that have already been purchased.

At New Sagaya Midtown Market cashier Grace Dolores says about 50 percent of the customers she sees already use reusable bags.

Kay Fyfe, on her lunch break, said she has been stockpiling the plastic bags for weeks. She says she uses the bags to line her trash can and also to carry her lunch. Still, she says she understands the move to do away with plastic bags.

"I totally agree because you know when the wind blows in Palmer, you just drive through Palmer, and you can see plastic bags up in the trees," Fyfe said. "And I know it's really harmful to our water habitat."

Suzanna Caldwell, recycling coordinator at Solid Waste Services says plastic bags have huge impacts on the landfill. She says SWS isn't taking a position on the issue, but pointed out that daily staff has to walk around the landfill, daily, picking up plastic bags that blow around in the wind.

"Plastic bags are just one of those things that are remarkably challenging to deal with because they just catch wind and fly all around," Caldwell said.

Tuesday night is only the introduction and there will be two work sessions to iron out any problems with the proposal, Traini said.