US city starts plastic-bag ban following half-year postponement

Anchorage City in the US state of Alaska began to enforce a stringent ban on plastic bags, including biodegradable ones, according to an announcement on the city”s official website.

The ban applies to almost all retail stores across the city, including single-use plastic bags used by restaurants for take-out foods.

A guideline issued by the Municipality of Anchorage on Sunday said biodegradable or compostable plastic bags are also prohibited in commercial activities because they “do not biodegrade well in our climate”, Xinhua news agency reported.

The new measure encourages businesses and customers to provide or bring their own reusable bags for shopping as the ban aims to reduce waster or litter. Only paper bags or other alternatives can be legally provided at shops or grocery stores, and a minimum 10 US cents may be charged for each bag.

Under the ban, retailers who violate the city code for the first time will receive a warning, and a second offence could carry a fine of $250, with the third and subsequent offences each facing $500 in penalty.

The prohibition provides for a few exceptions including plastic bags used for produce, vegetables, bakery goods, meat, fish or frozen foods.

The Anchorage Assembly voted for the ban on August 28, 2018, which was originally set to take effect on March 1, this year. The ban was postponed to September 15 after some business owners reported a large stockpile of plastic bags.

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