PLASTIC-free fruit and veg areas will be introduced at Morrisons branches in a bid to cut non-recyclable waste.

The chain claims it is the first British supermarket to roll out the sale of loose produce, with up to 127 varieties of fruit and veg available.

It will, however, continue to sell packaged produce in a neighbouring area if customers do not want to 'buy bagless'.

The new fruit and veg shelves are expected to save an estimated three tonnes of plastic a week, equating to 156 tonnes a year, the supermarket said.

More than one million people have signed a Greenpeace petition, urging supermarkets to scrap throwaway plastic packaging.

Morrisons said the initiative will be introduced at 60 branches during 2019.

They will then continue to be introduced as part of the supermarket’s ongoing store refurbishment programme nationwide – saving even more plastic over time.

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Customers can either buy fresh produce as it is, or place it into recyclable paper bags.

The move follows a 10-month trial in three Morrisons stores in Skipton (North Yorkshire), Guiseley (West Yorkshire) and St Ives, where the amount of loose fruit and veg bought by customers increased by an average of 40 per cent. 

Drew Kirk, fruit and veg director at Morrisons, said: "Many of our customers would like the option of buying their fruit and veg loose.

"We’re creating an area of our greengrocery with no plastic where they can pick as much or as little as they like.

"We’re going back to using traditional greengrocery and we hope customers appreciate the choice."

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The loose veg range includes everyday essentials such as carrots, potatoes and onions as well as more unusual seasonal varieties such as celeriac.

Fruit will include apples, pears and oranges, plus figs, persmimons and pomegranates.

For the first time, customers will also be able to buy loose cauliflower, white cabbage and chestnut mushrooms.