Environment Oregon
Jessica Debbas

EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene's city council could vote soon to ban the use of plastic bags.

More than 60 local businesses support this ban on plastic.

In their work session, councilors will look over a proposal put together by Councilor Alan Zelenka.

Mayor Kitty Piercy said she's seen little resistance to this idea.

"Oregonians use on average about 500 plastic bags a year," said Environment Oregon Director Sarah Higginbotham.

Activists say because Eugene is the second largest city in Oregon, banning the use of plastic carry-out bags could make a significant difference to the environment.

"We lose over 100,000 mammals every year sea turtles, whales, seabirds to this problem," Higginbotham said.

Piercy supports the movement and says the removal of plastic would greatly affect some of the region's biggest resources.

"We have two great rivers here that experience the effect of plastics, and the animals that live in them experience the effects of plastics," Piercy said.

It's not just a litter issue. Recycling managers say recycling plastic is not cost efficient and that the durable plastic pouches wind around machines and frequently slow down operations.

"Plastic bags are about one percent of the recycables that come through, but they're 40 percent of the labor cost," said BRING Recycling Executive Director Julie Daniel.

Many businesses in town already decided on their own not to offer a plastic option.

Piercy says with the large support from those retailers and other residents, she doesn't see much of a resistance against making this ban reality.

"(I) haven't heard anyone being against this. I think it's more about they will have questions and they'll need to have those answered. We'll figure out if any adjustments need to be made and we'll move forward," Piercy said.

KEZI has been told if councilors ever vote to implement a ban, it could take six months to a year for people to actually see plastic out of the stores.

It took Portland about six months to put the ban into action.