Homer goes plastic bagless: new law now enforced

• Store manager says ‘consumers will be left holding the bag.’
By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

Consumers in the habit of grabbing bags from home to fill up at the grocery store won’t feel much of a change, but folks expecting their plastic bags in the months ahead could be disappointed.
The new City of Homer bag ordinance fell into place the first day of the new year. It outlaws plastic bags, the white ones with handles on them, at local retail shops and grocery stores. Plastic produce bags are not part of the ban.
In the meantime, any plastic retail bag left in the supply closets can be used up. This means customers won’t see the handy – and environmentally unfriendly – carriers disappear altogether.
Safeway is handing out reminders placed as memos to the public in their grocery bags. It tells them of the Jan. 1 changeover, contending they will want to remember their reusable bags when heading out to shop.
At Kachemak Wholesale, Manager Aaron Challans said they have a supply on hand to meet the needs at the present time and when those are gone, they’re gone.
“I don’t have a date in mind for when the present supply of bags will run out,” Challans said. “What’s happening here is it’s the consumer who will be left holding the bag.”
The reason why the plastic bag grew in popularity at stores across the country was because they replaced the heavy, more costly paper sacks. The difference was significant, said Challans, who has worked at grocery stores for 25 years, in a price at 6 cents for paper and 1 cent or less per plastic bag.
“I understand it from both sides. I’m a consumer like everyone else, but I also manage a business that uses plastic bags. If that’s what the community so wants, I am for it,” he added. “When the current supply runs out we will see what we can utilize after that.”
Homer people generally use cloth bags more and more anyway, said Save-U-More’s Hope Otero.
“I see a lot of people bring in their own bags. They’re already in the habit,” she said.
Save-U-More provides cardboard boxes and will run through the last of its plastic bags, but is also considering options for when those plastic bags are gone.
The Homer City Council voted in the bag ordinance Aug. 27 after a lengthy and loud public discussion at the city hall testimony table.
As the council debated what to put in the ordinance and what to leave out, enforcement became an issue. How would the city “police” stores that don’t comply? What should be the penalty for not following the ban?
The penalty for each violation is a fine of $50.00.
Homer Mayor Beth Wythe feels like there is more work to be done on the ordinance. She voted against it on the grounds that it was forcing people to make a change.
“I do not feel it was fully shaped. I recall that (Councilmembers Beau Burgess and Dave Lewis) expressed they both intended to bring more amendments before it went in on Jan. 1, and that didn’t happen,” Wythe said. “Hopefully we can get those updates in there so it will be easier to comply with.”
That could be handled through amendments to the ordinance, she said.
At this point, the ordinance states all bags need to be 2.25 millimeters thick. This is a weight class that distinguishes grocery bags from produce bags.
The ordinance spells out what bags are allowed:
“Bags used by customers inside stores to package bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, or small hardware items, such as nails and bolts; bags used to contain dampness or leaks from items such as frozen foods, meat or fish, flowers or potted plants; bags used to protect prepared foods or bakery goods; bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs; newspaper bags, laundry or dry cleaning bags; or bags sold for consumer use off the seller’s premises for such purposes as the collection and disposal of garbage, pet waste, or yard waste.”
Towns and states across the country began banning the lower weight bags from their areas because they choke wildlife and don’t break down in landfills. They also add to America’s demand for oil.
Coastal North Carolina and San Francisco were some of the first to institute a ban. In Alaska, the Prifloff Islands ban them and now Homer, which remains one of the few Alaska towns to do so.

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Posted by on Jan 2nd, 2013 and filed under Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

7 Responses for “Homer goes plastic bagless: new law now enforced”

  1. franks says:

    Please remember the names Beau Burgess and Dave Lewis when the elections come around. Dave Lewis has done more to destroy this town than all of those crooks in city council put together. Whats next on your agenda Dave? How about cigarettes because all of YOU smokers throw your butts on the ground when they finish. Nothing like going out fishing and seeing cigarette butts floating around the boat harbor. I bet YOUR cigarette butts are causing more pollution than my plastic bags. How about it Dave.

  2. Stan White says:

    Homer. I’m proud to live here. Good work, city council. Especially Lewis and Burgess. We will all adjust and be just fine without those terrible (but, yeah, handy) bags.

    • Frank S says:

      I’m sure glad you like the government telling you how to live. I believe Nazi Germany ran the same way! Hey Dave I see that Concord Mass just banned 16 ounce plastic bottles.

  3. deb says:

    STUPID STUPID STUPID will the swat team bein the grocery store parking lot? please advise… Shop in Soldotna?

  4. oh please says:

    Seriously, this is THE most important issue in Homer? Our city council is on the ball, Nevermind Buccaneer leaving their piece of crap destroying our dock, excess profits coming in but they still want raise our food tax, corrupt natural gas companies lying about running out while shipping it all to Asia…

    This city council is seriously corrupt, and this stupid bag issue is just a distraction to pretend they are doing something. Then they will undo it, and we will all go ‘wow, the city council works for us’ They think we are stupid Homerites.

  5. stupidity abounds says:

    Anyone else been to save u more lately? Everyone is grabbing the boxes because there are no plastic bags, and now we have to pay 10 cents per paper bag which (this is Alaska people!) fall apart with the slightest bit of water. Paper bags are not practical in Alaska duh! The trip from the store to the car is all it takes to get water on the paper bags and that is all it takes to rip to shreds. Came home with two bags of groceries falling all over out of two broken bags…thanks city council! Looking out for us!@^^#&

    We need to recall this entire city council, fire Walt Wrede and take a new look at our finances. This is our town, not their town. This city gets all kinds of money, from the cruise ship fees to the docking fees to the absurd amount they collect in sales tax….we could have such an awesome town with all that money, community center, community garden/heated winter greenhouse, city center with lighted ice skating like Anchorage…seriously there is a lot of money going through the city’s hands right now, and we the people aren’t getting any of it. Chamber of Commerce wants to double their money, no problem. But when citizens went to the council to discuss a community center for teenagers to use, they immediately said
    ‘no we don’t have the money for that!’ So they take all our sales tax money, all the money from dock fees and cruise ships, to give back to business, but we can’t use any for the people that live here? They gave $15,000 to someone(did it really cost that much?) to determine the HERC building isn’t worth fixing. We could have had a volunteer do that, just as we could have volunteers in the community fix up the entire building, but the city council figured throwing money at one person to tell us ‘no way’ was good enough, They suck. and we shouldn’t put up with this BS!

  6. concerned sourdough says:

    Dependency on oil is unacceptable for human existence. Starting with the elimination of the plastic bags is merely one teeny tiny step in the right direction, but plastic bags sure aren’t quite as critical as the Endeavor sitting in our bay with no safety precautions for disaster.

    When we can completely stop gouging and stealing un-renewable resources from the planet, then we might be on the right path to share the ‘sustainable’ nature with it all. But for GREED, we would already be there with Tesla’s free energy for all. It takes oil to make plastic. Get rid of oil dependency … get rid of plastic garbage altogether. Lever soap puts plastic granules in the bar soap to scrub your skin better, and now the ocean floor is filled with plastic granules that bring death to the eco-system. We have scrubbed ourselves to death people. http://www.takepart.com/oceans/plastic-pollution

    You’re right Frank … cigarette butts are disgusting all over the ground, and in the water, smelling the smoke and sick stale ashtrays, a smoker is most inconsiderate wherever he/she decides to flick his/her butt, but, cigarette smoking is a one on one killer (unless its second hand), whereas plastic kills the environment we depend on to survive.

    The city council, whether they realize it or not are signed into the UN’s Agenda 21. Thank you Mr. Hornaday for making Homer a “real” test site for easy pickings. You put us on the “test pilot” list. “In March, Homer joined the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), as one of more than 700 local governments participating in the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign. Later, Homer accepted an invitation to participate in the pilot phase of ICLEI’s Climate Resilient Communities program, which focuses on adaptation to climate change” Read it for yourself.

    Did you take money for doing this deed to the rest of us … without public understanding or vote? Plastic bags are just the first deployment for control … but I think we all know, no matter how much money we spend on a “task force” no one can control Mother Nature, right?

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