Anchorage’s plastic bag ban is back

(Alaska Public Media file photo)

Anchorage’s ban on single-use plastic bags is back in place.

The city had temporarily suspended its plastic bag ban last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

At the time, it said, many businesses wanted to limit in-person interactions between employees and customers, and were not permitting the use of reusable bags or containers. Also, many businesses were switching to curbside pick-up or delivery.

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Also, Anchorage Assembly member Felix Rivera said the suspension made sense because of a shortage of paper bags in 2020 and fears about the coronavirus spreading on surfaces. But now, he said, the supply chain issues for paper bags have eased, and more is known about the virus.

“I think we’ve learned a lot,” he said. “And now we know there isn’t really much of a difference between transmissibility of the virus on plastic vs. paper vs. reusable bag. So I don’t think that’s really a reason to keep the plastic bag ban lifted.”

The suspension of the bag ban expired on Tuesday.

That means, starting Wednesday, retailers can no longer provide plastic shopping bags. Also, businesses can offer a paper bag but must charge 10 cents per bag, to a maximum 50 cents per transaction.

The city’s ban on single-use plastic bags first took effect in September 2019.

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Tegan Hanlon is the deputy digital editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at thanlon@alaskapublic.org.

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