Carrickfergus Councillor Stewart Dickson said: “Clearly, Northern Ireland is falling behind in the environmental protection stakes.
“The Republic of Ireland led the way on the plastic bag levy – Wales are now introducing one, yet Northern Ireland is failing again on this issue.
“The Minister said he did not want to create this levy because he said it would affect people on low incomes. This is not the case at all. A levy would not have an impact of this nature because so many supermarkets already give away free recyclable bags. This appears just an excuse from Minister Edwin Poots not to legislate on this important environmental issue.
“You only have to look at hedgerows across Northern Ireland and see plastic bags flapping in the wind to realise the extent of this problem and why we need urgent action.. We need to minimise the use of plastic bags and we need to get people to re-use and re-recycle.”