The Northern Ireland Executive has outlined proposals to extend the current carrier bag levy to a wider variety of bags.

Under the new Carrier Bags Bill, environment minister Alex Attwood is seeking to apply the levy to low cost reusable bags in a bid to stop them becoming ‘throw-away bags’.

The minister also intends to increase the levy on both single use and multi-use low cost carrier bags from 5p to 10p next April.

“I intend to use the powers - once passed - conferred by the Bill to extend the levy to the lower cost versions of reusable bags,” he said. “At the moment, these bags can be bought for as little as five pence. If they were to remain excluded from the levy many consumers may treat them as ‘throw-away bags’.

He said the existing 5p levy gave consumers time to get used to bringing their own bags when they shop.

“However my department’s modelling suggests that a 10 pence levy is the amount which will maintain the downward trend in carrier bag consumption,” he added.

The 5p levy on single use carrier bags was introduced on April 8 2013.