***UPDATE 10/8/19: Restaurants and vendors at temporary markets no longer have to charge for alternative bags. The plastic bag ban still applies to restaurants.***
Effective September 15, 2019, retailers will no longer be able to provide plastic bags to shoppers in Anchorage. Sellers shall provide non-plastic bags, such as paper, at a minimum cost of $0.10 per bag up to a maximum of $0.50 per transaction. Do your part to reduce waste and bring your own shopping bags!
Have questions about the new law? Email PlasticBagBan@anchorageak.gov or call (907) 343-7123.
Request a Presentation
If your business or community organization would like to request a presentation about the plastic bag ordinance, please fill out this form.
Plastic Bag Ordinance Frequently Asked Questions
When does the ordinance go into effect?
September 15, 2019
Are there any exceptions?
Yes. The prohibition doesn't apply to a plastic bag that is
Used by customers inside stores to contain a product that does not have other packaging, including bulk foods, fruits, nuts, vegetables, bakery goods, etc.;
Used to contain dampness or leaks from items such as frozen foods, meat or fish;
Used only to contain ice;
Used only to contain or wrap flowers or potted plants;
Provided by a pharmacist for the sole purpose of containing prescription drugs;
Used only to package an unconsumed portion of a bottle of wine;
Used only to contain a newspaper, laundry, or dry cleaning;
Sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for consumer use off the retail seller’s premises, such as for the collection and disposal of garbage, pet waste, or dog waste.
What counts as a reusable bag?
A bag counts as reusable if it “a. is designed and manufactured to withstand repeated use over time; b. is made from cloth, other machine washable fabric, or is made from other woven material that can be cleaned and disinfected regularly; and c. has handles.”
Where can I get a reusable bag?
Reusable bags are sold at most grocery stores in Anchorage. You may also repurpose items such as tote bags or book bags for shopping.
What counts as an alternative bag?
Generally, paper bags will be available as an 'alternative' bag. An alternative bag is defined as “any bag that is designed to carry customer purchases from the retail seller premises that is neither a disposable plastic shopping bag nor a reusable bag.”
What should my business do with the revenue from alternative bag charges?
Businesses may either keep or donate this revenue, but may not absorb or discount the fee. For example, if you sell something for $50 and the customer wants a paper bag, you must charge them $50.10 and the bag fee must show as a separate item on the invoice.
Do I need to charge $0.10 for small paper bags to protect postcards?
No. Bags used to protect postcards are exempt from the ordinance.
I have a large number of plastic bags that I won't be able to distribute to customers before September 15th. What should I do?
Please send an email to PlasticBagBan@anchorageak.gov or call 343-7123 with a description of your situation, and we will attempt to connect you with a community organization to either donate the
bags or dispose of them. Nonretailers, such as food distribution nonprofits, can still distribute plastic bags.
I want to use my own signs / communications strategy to tell my customers about this change. Is that allowed?
Yes. Businesses are welcome to use the materials provided by the municipality, but are not mandated to do so.
Does the alternative bag charge apply to reusable bags my business provides to its customers?
No. Businesses are encouraged to provide and/or sell reusable bags.
Are there any exceptions to the $0.10 bag fee?
Restaurants and vendors at temporary markets are now exempt from the fee requirement. They may charge, if they choose to.
The alternative bag fee is waived for any purchases made with state or federal supplemental nutrition assistance programs, commonly known as food stamps, food coupons or other type of allotment issued under 7 U.S.C. 2011-2036, or with food instruments, food vouchers, or other type of certificate issued under 42 U.S.C. 1786 (Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children), or other similar programs.
Also, a retail seller or other organization is not required to charge a fee when they distribute alternative bags at temporary events where the bags are provided for a general use without a clearly associated sale. For example, events like Kids Day or trade shows.
Can I use biodegradable plastic bags?
No. Currently, plastic bags labeled as biodegradable do not biodegrade well in our climate.
My business is a restaurant. Is it considered a retailer?
Yes. A retail seller is any commercial business located within the municipality that “sells goods or prepared food directly to final consumers.” If you currently provide bags for takeout food, you will no longer be able to use plastic bags.
How will this ordinance be enforced?
Anchorage Code Enforcement will be the primary enforcer.
The first offense for retailers is a warning. A second offense could carry a $250 fine and third and subsequent offenses are $500 each. See Anchorage Municipal Code section 14.60.030
for the fine schedule.