Homer's ban on disposable plastic shopping bags in Homer went into effect Tuesday and the city is gearing up to enforce it.
The issue was one of the more highly contested of the past year. Ordinance 12-36(a), which outlines the plan for enforcing the ban, passed through the Homer City Council with a vote of 4-2 on Aug. 27th. It was vetoed on Sept. 10th by then Mayor Jim Hornaday, but that veto was later overridden by the City Council on Sept. 24th by a vote of 4-2.
According to Homer City Manager Walt Wrede, the ban only applies to store owners supplying a certain type of plastic bag and will not affect citizens who happen to have bags in their possession.
"It's a ban on stores passing them out ... it's mostly the grocery-type bags that you would see at Safeway or Save-U-More," said Wrede.
While the ordinance states that local businesses cannot replenish their stocks of plastic shopping bags once the ban takes effect, Wrede says that this will not require local businesses to immediately dispose of any bags they currently possess after the ban is imposed.
"So I don't think you'll see them disappear right away," he said. "Hopefully, there will be voluntary compliance."
One of the more prominent suppliers of disposable shopping bags in Homer is Safeway. When asked for comment on the ban, Sarah Osbourne, the director of Public and Government Affairs for Safeway’s Northwestern Division stated that while Safeway is not opposed to the idea of a ban on plastic bags, if the ban is to be effective than there should be a fine imposed on paper bags, which she says would potentially encourage shoppers to use reusable cloth bags instead.
"Paper is not necessarily the solution ... it's just another environmental problem," said Osbourne.
The ban on disposable plastic shopping bags in Homer went into effect Tuesday, Jan. 1st.