HOMER — Homer voters will consider repealing its ban on the use of plastic shopping bags during the city election on Oct. 1.
Resident and city council candidates Justin Arnold gathered enough signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, the Homer News reported.
The Homer City Council last year approved a ban on the onion skin-thin bags, even though thicker plastic bags were allowed. Plastic bags for produce, meat, spices, dry goods and medicine are still allowed.
The ban went into effect Jan. 1, and retailers were allowed to use up the remainder of their current supply. Safeway is now providing free paper bags to shoppers, and are selling both the thicker plastic bags and reusable bags.
Arnold argues that plastic bags require few resources for energy and water, they weigh less to ship and can be recycled. He also said reusable bags can cause disease when people don’t properly clean them.
But his overwhelming argument with the bags is that government is forcing shoppers to use them.
“I’m not balloting for the bags so much as I’m balloting against the government telling us not to use them,” Arnold said.
One of the original sponsors of the ban on plastic bags, council member Beau Burgess, counters that plastic bags are a significant waste and trash problem and particularly harm coastal areas.
He also said government should regulate activities which are harmful to human health and the environment.
“I think people underestimate the impact of plastic on food and the impact plastic has on the environment,” Burgess said.
Since the plastic bags are so thin, they catch in the wind easily and float away.
But Arnold said since the Homer Landfill is now a transfer site, this should not be as much of a problem since the trash is taken to the landfill in Soldotna.
“Great,” Burgess said. “So now there are not plastic bags blowing at our dump. It’s blowing at someone else’s dump.”
Arnold said communities can address the trash problem through community clean ups.