Single-use plastic bags litter the side of Lake Street on Sept. 25, 2018, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Single-use plastic bags litter the side of Lake Street on Sept. 25, 2018, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Soldotna bag ban to take effect Thursday

The city of Soldotna is working to make sure shoppers aren’t left empty-handed come Thursday, when a ban on single-use plastic bags takes effect throughout the city.

Starting Nov. 1, commercial businesses in Soldotna can no longer provide customers with single-use, plastic disposable shopping bags. Grocery stores, pharmacies, retail stores and restaurants are all subject to the new regulations.

To help ease the transition for businesses and customers, the city will be providing 4,000 free reusable bags to residents over the course of the next week. The bags were purchased with more than $7,000 in donations from community nonprofits.

“We’re so thrilled with the generous response we received,” Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen said.

Kenny Watershed Forum, Cook Inletkeeper, Vision Soldotna, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling and the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District each donated to Soldotna. Central Peninsula Hospital also donated and purchased 800 bags to hand out.

The bags will be distributed at Fred Meyers, Safeway, Walgreens and Sportsmen Warehouse over the course of the next week before the ban comes into effect on Thursday.

“The first box came in yesterday,” Queen said. “…We’ll work with all these partners to make sure everyone gets the bags later this week.”

The ordinance banning plastic bags was passed in April and since then several local businesses have start the transition to paper or reusable bags.

Under the ordinance, stores may offer paper bags for free or for an additional price at the discretion of the business.

Not all plastic bags are banned, though. Bags used to purchase bulk or produce items, contain dampness or leaks, like with frozen foods or flowers, or used to protect prepared and baked goods are still allowed. Also newspaper, laundry, dry cleaning bags and garbage bags are still allowed.

Soldonta is joining several Alaskan communities in banning single-use plastic bags, including Wasilla, Palmer, Cordova and Bethel.

Seward recently passed legislation to ban plastic bags and Homer will place the bag ban question on the ballot in Oct. 2019.

Reach Kat Sorensen at ksorensen@peninsulaclarion.com

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