Bag tax proposed to fight Fairbanks garbage

Posted: Sunday, August 23, 2009

FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks officials are taking a carrot-and-stick approach to boost recycling in the city.

On the carrot side, Mayor Jim Whitaker and Borough Assembly member Mike Musick have put forth a plan to pay people or groups who recycle paper, plastics, glass and other materials before it reaches the landfill.

As for the stick, assembly member Nadine Winters wants to charge large chain stores a nickel for each disposable plastic bag given to customers. The money would fund recycling programs.

"At the end of the day, recycling programs have never penciled out up here," Winter said, noting the city's remote location and relatively small population.

Companies would need to submit reports showing that they are indeed charging for throw-away plastic bags. They would also be required to list disposable plastic bags as a separate line item on receipts.

Musick and Whitaker's program would revive a dormant borough recycling commission. The panel would screen recycling plans forwarded by both people and groups. Those that clear the review and sign a contract with the mayor would get paid.

Whitaker said money available to pay recyclers would be from whatever the borough saved by hauling less material to the landfill. The ordinance would set aside $65,000 to help the commission get the program started.

"We want to go into this slowly and give it a chance to evolve appropriately," Whitaker said.

The two plans were drafted separately but are being advanced side by side. The Borough Assembly has scheduled public hearings on the plans for Sept. 10.

"We'll go for the recycling whether the plastic bag (fee) passes or not," Musick said.

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