Last week the Homer City Council passed a measure that will bar stores from packaging goods in plastic bags. While Homer is the first town on Alaska’s road system to do so, the halibut capitol of the world joins a growing list of U.S. cities to ditch the plastic bag for more eco-friendly options.
As a coastal community, much of the argument in favor of the bag ban referenced the growing amount of plastics marine debris that can cause harm to marine mammals and birds.
Here in Kodiak, where many residents’ lives revolve around the health of our waters, a plastic bag ban has yet to come before the city council. KMXT’s Brianna Gibbs caught up with City Mayor Pat Branson to discuss the recent bag ban in Homer and whether or not Kodiak could follow suite.
— (Plastic Bag Ban 1 2:39 “Two-way: So Homer City Council passed…we’ll see what happens.”)
Ken Reinke is the executive director for Threshold Recycling Services. He said individual plastic items can have a decent value when recycled, but stretchable plastics aren’t separated in Kodiak.
— (Plastic Bag Ban 2 : 22 “But in the way that we’re able to do it in Kodiak, you combine them all together because you just can’t afford to separate them, and they’re almost valueless. And so it doesn’t even cover the cost of shipping them. But we’re a non profit organization and we get help, and that helps to get that stuff off the island.”)
Despite the low value of those plastics, Reinke said there are other things to consider.
— (Plastic Bag Ban 3 : 26 “But we have the landfill issue and there’s a value in keeping as much out of the landfill as we can. And we cash in on that down the road a ways. But, no, it’s a wash for us. We will still continue to bail plastic film at that low value rate, and it’s just part of what we do as part of our recycling, certainly no one else is going to do it. ”)
Homer’s bag ban will go into effect on January 1, but whether or not Kodiak is next on the list remains to be seen. As Mayor Pat Branson said, it’s up the community. Until someone comes forward to suggest a ban, plastic bag use remains a personal decision, not a law.