SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - At the Lane County dump, there are plastic bags aplenty that have been thrown out.
Some environmentalists say paper or plastic should no longer be a choice at the checkout aisle, and they have support from some local politicians.
"There's actually an island of trash twice the size of Texas floating in the pacific," said Eva Birk with Environmental Oregon. "This heap of plastic bags and styrofoam is killing thousands of marine animals every year and over a million seabirds."
The garbage island begins with garbage closer to home.
"A very large percentage," Birk said, "of ocean pollution that is plastic bags comes from rivers, and so we're contributing in Eugene through that."
The bags also come with a cost for taxpayers, said Pete Sorenson, Lane County Commissioner from South Eugene.
"Plastic bags are bad for fish and wildlife," he said. "Because of the proliferation of plastic bags, they cost Lane County taxpayers over one million dollars per year. Paper bags and reusable cloth bags are a great alternative. I hope the county and state can work to eliminate the plastic bag waste."
Waste specialist Sarah Grimm agrees with banning the bags but said recycling the plastic pollution is the first step.
"They can become plastic lumber, they can become quite a wide variety of things," she said. "Their value is growing as the economy grows."
Her main concern is the plastic industry: she worries a lawsuit against the county could bag the battle against the ban.
The battle over plastic bags is playing out nationwide in different ways.
San Francisco outlawed bags that aren't biodegradable. Seattle tried to place a 20-cent tax on all bags - paper and plastic - but that went to a referendum, and voters rejected it.
Here in Oregon, a bill introduced by State Sen. Mark Haas to ban plastic bags statewide didn't make it out of committee.
Individual businesses are free to decide what bags they will offer. Eugene-based Market of Choice stopped offering plastic bags two years ago.