SDLP Climate Change Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has called for progress on a single-use plastics ban in the North.
He was speaking after an announcement that a ban would be progressed in England before the end of the year.
The products were banned in Scotland earlier this year, with Wales set to follow suit and Mr Durkan said it was time for the North to act.
A pledge to end plastic pollution in the North was included in the New Decade, New Approach agreement.
Foyle MLA Mr Durkan said:
“We cannot continue to stand still when it comes to the important issue of banning single-use plastics, every other part of these islands is making significant progress on this issue and it’s time that we took action to progress a ban, particularly given the commitment to end plastic pollution contained in the New Decade, New Approach agreement.
“The SDLP’s introduction of the carrier bag levy has shown the positive impact that policies like this can have on our environment. Since this policy was introduced, we have seen nearly 2 billion bags taken out of circulation, with well over £30m raised to go towards environmental projects which will make a real difference in our efforts to combat the climate emergency. I have also been pushing for a deposit return scheme with a financial incentive for some time which would aid recycling efforts and build on the success of the carrier bag levy. Banning single-use plastics is another important measure that will stop these unnecessary items being sent to landfills where they can take hundreds of years to decompose.
“The deadlock and division that dominates our politics has repeatedly hampered our efforts to take robust action to combat climate change, with legislation only introduced at the end of the last mandate. It has taken us far too long to get serious about climate action here and interventions like a single-use plastics ban will be key if we’re to tackle this issue going forward and protect our planet for future generations.”