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Unalaskans Express Overwhelming Support For Drafted Ban On Plastic Bags

Berett Wilber/KUCB


City Councilors and community members expressed overwhelming support Tuesday night for an ordinance that would ban single-use plastic bags in Unalaska.

As it stands, the proposed ordinance would put the burden on retailers.


Starting Jan. 1, businesses would receive $100 fines for providing a customer with a disposable shopping bag. That does not include plastic bags used to package bulk items like fruit.


Vice Mayor Dennis Robinson first added the issue to a City Council agenda in April and said he fully supports the ban.


"I think we need to get away from plastics," said Robinson. "If you've eaten a fish out of the sea in the past 10 years, you have nanoplastics in your blood from that fish. It's a horrible thought."


Nearly a dozen Unalaskans voiced their support for the bag ban. But some, like Abi Woodbridge, said it doesn't go far enough.


"In the very near future, I highly recommend that straws be added, but also the industrial use of plastic on the docks," said Woodbridge. "When people shrink wrap pallets, that stuff gets lose. It ends up in the bay."


Earlier this month, Seattle became the first major U.S. city to ban drinking straws. Now, food packaging must be recyclable or compostable.


No one expressed opposition to Unalaska's ban, and councilors said they may add other plastic items.  


The push to reduce Unalaska's dependence on plastic bags began at a community meeting in February. The City Council took the first step towards a ban in April.


Councilors will continue discussing the proposed ordinance at their July 24 meeting.

Zoë Sobel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2019. She returned to KUCB after a year living in Nepal and Malaysia as a Luce Scholar. She then returned to KUCB as a ProPublica reporter August of 2020 through August of 2021.
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