Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A worthwhile proposal

Nadine Winters introduced this ordinance on the 20th of August. It would provide for a voluntary program by retailers (of large size) in the borough to charge a small amount for "disposable" plastic bags which would then be used to support borough recycling programs. Just in case you didn't know, those plastic shopping bags are the source of a serious and deadly type of pollution/litter. Plastic refuse of all types is a big big problem these days--ever hear of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Los Angeles has enacted a ban on the bags which will take effect in 2010. Cities around the world--entire provinces and countries, even--are banning or penalizing the use of disposable bags.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough should follow through with this mild ordinance. It's a step in the right direction, and, while voluntary, will raise money to reduce litter and borough landfill expenses. PUblic commentary (and I think the vote on it) is on September 10. Contact the borough assembly to support it!
ORDINANCE NO. 2009 - 40

AN ORDINANCE AMENDING TITLE 8 OF THE FNSB CODE OF ORDINANCES TO ESTABLISH A VOLUNTARY PROGRAM DESIGNED TO REDUCE THE USE OF PLASTIC BAGS, IMPOSE A FEE FOR CERTAIN PLASTIC BAGS PROVIDED TO CUSTOMERS BY LARGE RETAILERS AND ESTABLISH A LOCAL RECYCLING PROGRAM SPECIAL REVENUE FUND

WHEREAS, Fairbanks North Star Borough voters approved in 1993 a policy to encourage recycling, reuse and reduction of solid wastes generated in the Borough; and

WHEREAS, Americans use over 14 billion plastic bags a year; and

WHEREAS, Plastic bags do not biodegrade in landfills and reducing their use would provide available space at the landfill; and

WHEREAS; Collection and disposal have been estimated in some municipalities to cost up to 17 cents per plastic bag; and

WHEREAS, the Borough expends over $30,000 annually in litter pickup efforts, a third of which is estimated to be plastic bags; and

WHEREAS, regulation that discourages and decreases the use of disposable plastic bags in the Borough is in the best interests of the Borough; and

WHEREAS, the successful reduction of the number of disposable plastic bags entering the Borough’s solid waste stream, along with the integration of reusable bags and the increase in recycling of plastic bags, will help the Borough achieve the policy goal approved by voters.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE FAIRBANKS NORTH STAR BOROUGH ASSEMBLY;

Section 1. This ordinance is of a general and permanent nature and shall be codified.

Section 2. Chapter 8.12 of the FNSB Code of Ordinances is amended to add the following chapters:

8.12.037 Voluntary Program for Participating Retailers

A. Sellers using disposable plastic bags, that fall outside the definition of retail sellers, may on a voluntary basis, charge the disposable plastic bag fee imposed in this chapter. If the seller chooses to participate then the seller is subject to the requirements of this chapter.

B. Sellers of goods using disposable plastic bags who choose not to participate in charging the disposable plastic bag fee may also participate in the program by:

1. Making available recycling bins/canisters for plastic shopping bags.
2. Developing messages placed in highly visible areas that encourages and reminds shoppers to use reusable bags.
3. Making reusable bags available at a reasonable price.

8.12.038 Disposable plastic Bag Fee

A. Effective January 1, 2010, all retail sellers, as defined in this chapter, shall charge and collect a five cent ($0.05) fee for each disposable plastic bag provided to customers. The amount of the fee shall be stated separately on a sales receipt, invoice, or other record of sale. It shall be a violation of this section for any store subject to the requirements of this section to pay or otherwise reimburse a customer for any portion of this fee.

B. The retail store shall keep a record of the number of disposable plastic bags the retail seller has purchased, been provided with, or otherwise acquired, and a record of the amount paid for disposable bags subject to this section that are provided to, or sold to, retail consumers on a monthly basis.

C. The purpose of the fee established in this chapter is to regulate the generation of waste from disposable plastic bags by creating an economic incentive for customers to use reusable shopping bags.

D. On a monthly basis and as otherwise may be required by the Chief Financial Officer, all retail sellers required to collect the disposable plastic bag fee shall report and remit the total fees due to the Borough. Payments and receipts shall be reported on forms prescribed by the Borough’s Chief Financial Officer. The Chief Financial Officer is authorized to adopt rules for the administration, payment, collection and enforcement of the fee imposed in this chapter.

E. If a report or payment of any amounts due under this section are not received by the Chief Financial Officer on or before the due date, the Chief Financial Officer shall add a penalty calculated in the same manner as the penalty imposed under FNSB 3.58.090 as it now exists or as it may be amended except that it shall be calculated on the amount of fees due. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to deem any fees required under this chapter to be a tax.

8.12.039 Local recycling program special revenue fund

The local recycling program special revenue fund is hereby established. All funds received from the payment of the plastic bag fee shall be deposited into the local recycling program special revenue fund. Money in this account may be appropriated only to support Borough recycling efforts. Authorized expenditures from this fund, which may be expended by the Borough Mayor without further appropriation, are amounts used to support the voluntary program to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags and funds to make available to the public, for a reduced fee or free-of-charge, reusable shopping bags to the extent the Mayor determines that such programs will significantly reduce the costs associated with the recycling and disposal of plastic bags.

Section 3. Section 8.12. 021 Definitions is amended to add the following definitions (which shall be added by the clerk in alphabetical order).

“Retail seller” means any person or entity engaged in the business of offering and/or selling goods directly to a customer and that has annual gross sales of one million dollars or more in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

“Disposable plastic bag” means a bag made of plastic to carry customer purchases from a store. It does not include: a compostable plastic bag; a bag used only to contain ice; bags used by customers inside stores to package bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, candy or small hardware items; bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish or flowers, or other items where dampness may be a problem; bags used to protect prepared foods or bakery goods; bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs; newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry-dry cleaning bags, or bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage, pet waste, or yard waste bags.

“Chief Financial Officer” means the Finance Director or any officer, agent or employee of the Borough designated to act on the Chief Financial Officer’s behalf.

Section 4. Effective Date. This ordinance shall be effective at 5:00 p.m. of the first Borough business day following its adoption.

1 comment:

Sudsy said...

A tax by any other name... Another kick while we are down (those of us who work as clerks and might lose our jobs since sales are already down). Not to mention government exercising social engineering experiments.

I find those plastic bags quite handy for dirty diapers and urine soaked clothes when I'm out and about with my toddlers, along with not having to buy trash bags for my small trash cans when I go to the grocery store.

This will just grow our government further allowing for further intrusion into our private lives by our lovely Borough.