The Northern Ireland Executive is considering similar measures on single-use plastic bags which saw an increase in charges in England.

The fee there will be doubled to 10p and extended to all shops from April next year.

Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) officials briefed their Stormont scrutiny committee today.

Anthony Courtney, of the DAERA, said: "There are separate strands of work ongoing around plastics.

"Officials are looking at whether it would be appropriate to try to introduce measures on single-use plastics in Northern Ireland similar to those being implemented in the UK.

"At a broader level in the UK, there are legislative measures being introduced that will have a significant impact on plastics.

"They may result in benefits that go beyond some of the stuff coming in from Europe."

Twenty-four environmental projects in Northern Ireland will receive €2.2 million raised by the plastic bag tax over the past year.

Five pence is levied on every carrier bag at present.

The charge was introduced in 2013 and has seen the number of bags used cut by more than two-thirds.