Environment Minister Edwin Poots has announced he has no plans at present to charge shoppers for plastic bags.
But greater effort is needed to cut plastic use, the minister said, promising to continue monitoring the situation.
Plastic bag use in Northern Ireland has dropped by nearly 40% in three years — a reduction of 7.6 million, he said.
Following a meeting with the British Retail Consortium Mr Poots urged retailers to reduce the amount of bags they hand out in shops and supermarkets.
“In Northern Ireland the usage of carrier bags has been cut from 19.8m in May 2006 to 12.2m by May 2009, a reduction in numbers of 7.6m — a 38% reduction,” Mr Poots said.
“This is great news for the environment and I am encouraged this cut has been achieved against a backdrop of a growing volume in supermarket sales.
“I am keen to build constructive working partnerships with our retailers so that, as well as helping to cut plastic bag numbers further, we can work together to tackle other important environmental issues such as food waste and packaging.”