UPDATE: Anchorage Assembly makes small changes to plastic bag prohibition

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Update 10:15 p.m.:

The Anchorage Assembly made small changes to the city’s plastic bag prohibition at Tuesday’s regular meeting, providing more clarity on the difference between "plastic" and "reusable".

The adopted amendment uses the following language for clarification:

"Plastic shopping bag means a single-use carryout bag made exclusively or primarily of soft plastic (including plastics marked or labedled as 'biodegradable' or 'compostable') that is designed to carry customer purchases from the retail seller's premises and is not a reusable bag.

Reusable bag means a bag that is designed and manufactured to withstand repeated use over time ... and can be cleaned and disinfected regularly."

Consumers should be aware that vendors will still charge fees for reusable bags. Assembly Member Crystal Kennedy's amendment would have done away with that fee.

Food vendors can cover spillable items with plastic bags. Kennedy's amendment would have allowed broader use of plastic bags for carryout foods, but that change did not pass.

For further clarification on changes to the plastic bag ban, contact the assembly member for your district.

Original Story:

The Anchorage Assembly is considering changes to the city’s plastic bag prohibition at Tuesday’s regular meeting.

Assembly member Crystal Kennedy’s amendment would allow restaurants and other establishments serving prepared food to use plastic bags, and do away with the requirement for retailers to charge a fee for alternative bags.

"Retailers are confused and customers are frustrated,” Kennedy said. “So I just think it's time to fix some of the things that probably are the unintended consequences."

The assembly passed the prohibition Aug. 2018, and delayed the start date to Sept. 2019. That was meant to give all businesses time to transition.

However, Kennedy says certain businesses have struggled to implement the change given the nature of their services.

"There's already a great deal of exemptions in the ordinance currently that allow people to use plastic: drugstores, dry cleaners,” Kennedy said. “This would just make sure that restaurants have that capability, too, because there's been a lot of people that are tired of having their food fall through that paper bag."

Some assembly members argue Kennedy’s changes would roll back significant progress the city made when it passed the original ban.

"We have been successful, and I'm hopeful that my peers will agree that we're going to keep going -- that most of these changes that are proposed in the ordinance just go too far," member Christopher Constant said.

Kennedy’s amendment is the first item listed for public testimony at Tuesday’s meeting, which is scheduled to begin around 6 p.m.

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