Waitrose is to remove all plastic bags by next March in a move that will reportedly save around 500 tonnes of plastic a year.
Waitrose will remove 5p bags from six shops from 8 October to understand how to manage the changeover ahead of their complete removal next year.
The chain said the move will save 134 million plastic bags.
A home compostable alternative will be used for fruit and vegetable plastic bags.
Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Iceland are all either phasing out single-use plastic bags, or are in the process of doing so.
Waitrose’s move, announced Saturday, follows a pledge earlier this year to remove all disposable paper cups by this autumn, something the chain claims it is on target to achieve.
All our fruit and veg bags will be home compostable by spring 2019. Our 5p single-use carrier bags will also be removed from all shops by March 2019, saving 134 million plastic bags, that’s 500 tonnes of plastic a year. https://t.co/6wekBh9kyD#SingleUsePlastic#plasticpic.twitter.com/V6ai8k2N3m
— Waitrose & Partners (@waitrose) September 15, 2018
Waitrose has also committed to making it own-label packaging that will be recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2025.
Tor Harris, head of corporate social responsibility, health and agriculture for Waitrose, told Sky: “The removal of these bags will change the way our customers, many of whom have been asking us to do this, shop with us in the future.
“We know we still have a lot to do, but as with our commitment to removing takeaway disposable cups earlier this year, this represents another major step forward in reducing our use of plastics.”
Greenpeace UK applauded Waitrose’s decision, but said retailers must “focus on moving beyond packaging that’s designed to be used once then discarded, rather than swapping one disposable item for another”.
Elena Polisano, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace UK added: “We welcome their recognition that this is a small part of a much bigger issue – UK supermarkets generate over 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste each year.
“Much of it is unnecessary and all of it is a problem. We urgently need transparency on total plastic use, and annual targets to reduce that total. It’s going to happen, but we need it to happen swiftly, and supermarkets can still choose whether to be market leaders or laggards.”