SAINSBURY’S has become the first UK supermarket to remove plastic bags for loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items from all stores.

Shops will instead be offered paper and re-usable bags made from recycled materials.

It is estimated the move will cut a further 1,284 tonnes of plastic this year including removing 489 tonnes’ worth of plastic bags, which are currently found in the fruit and veg and bakery aisle.

By September, paper bags will be available to customers for loose bakery items and customers buying loose fruit and vegetables will either be able to bring their own bags or buy a re-usable bag made from recycled materials.

The supermarket has previously implemented measures that are already leading to a reduction of 8,101 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic and 'virgin plastic' every year.

The latest efforts brings this total to more than 10,000 tonnes.

Sainsbury’s will also remove plastic cutlery from stores as well as:

  • plastic trays for asparagus and sweetcorn (144 tonnes)
  • plastic lids from cream pots (114 tonnes)
  • plastic trays for tomatoes (102 tonnes)
  • plastic trays for carrots (38 tonnes)
  • plastic sleeves from herb pots (18 tonnes

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The company has also committed to replace:

  • black plastic trays with recyclable alternatives (6000 tonnes)
  • plastic film on fruit and vegetables with a recyclable alternative (2518 tonnes)
  • PVC and polystyrene trays with recyclable alternatives (1213 tonnes)
  • plastic trays for eggs with a fibre alternative (341 tonnes)
  • plastic cutlery for takeaway food with wooden alternatives (38 tonnes)

Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s CEO, said: “We are absolutely committed to reducing unnecessary plastic packaging in Sainsbury’s stores.

"Our customers expect us to be leading the way on major issues like this, so I am determined to remove and replace plastic packaging where we can and offer alternatives to plastic where packaging is still required to protect a product.”

The store has also pledged to end the use of dark coloured plastics (which are difficult to recycle) across fresh foods by the end of 2019 and entirely by March 2020.

Black plastic trays will also be replaced with recyclable alternatives by the end of the year with black ready-meal trays replaced within the next two months.

Morrisons announced a similar move last month rolling out plastic free fruit and veg areas in 60 stores this year. 

The supermarket has also given shoppers the option to take their own containers to the Morrisons Market Street Butcher and Fishmonger counters in stores.