Bronson asks Anchorage Assembly to suspend plastic bag ban again

(File photo)

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson is asking the Assembly to again suspend the city’s ban on single-use plastic bags.

The city’s bag ban just resumed on Wednesday, after it was on pause for about a year and a half due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bronson’s office issued a statement Thursday saying the bag ban should be suspended until May 1, 2022. It said the mayor has heard from a variety of Anchorage residents and businesses who support the suspension due to supply chain shortages, rising COVID-19 case counts and the expansion of curbside pick-up and delivery.

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“This suspension would also allow retailers to use their existing stock of plastic bags, provide time for businesses to restock their supplies of reusable or paper bags, and continue to limit contact between employees and customers for those wishing to do so,” Bronson said in the statement. “While I generally disagree with the underlying policy banning the distribution of plastic bags, I think we can all agree that a temporary moratorium on this policy is the right approach.”

An ordinance to suspend the bag ban until May will be introduced at the Assembly’s Sept. 14 meeting, said Bronson’s office. The Assembly will have to vote on whether to approve a suspension.

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

Under the policy, retailers can’t provide plastic shopping bags. Businesses can offer customers a paper bag but must charge 10 cents per bag, to a maximum 50 cents per transaction.

Assembly member Felix Rivera said on Wednesday that he supported putting the bag ban back in place this week, saying paper bags are more widely available now than a year ago, and more is known about how the coronavirus spreads.

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