Cllr Alan Lawther said: “Bag charges should be levied by the government to ensure that the cash goes into funding environmental projects, instead of potentially going into the coffers of the shops.
“I call on the Environment Minister Arlene Foster to act quickly to ensure that the government controls this area so that the cash can be spent in the best possible way for local people and our environment.
“It really is all in the bag for the new Environment Minister, if she chooses to open her eyes and recognize the undoubted potential of this move.
“Any cash made on such a scheme must be ploughed back into protecting the environment.
“Why should the bag charges line the pockets of big shop chains, when the cash would be far better spent providing local people with better public transport links or alternative energy sources in their homes?
“The Republic of Ireland’s plastic bag levy cut bag usage by 90% and helped provide more than £93 million for environmental initiatives. These findings illustrate that the creation of such a levy by the Assembly would have an extremely positive impact on the environment. Its time for the Minister to act on this issue.”