British supermarket chain Waitrose & Partners has decided to phase out single-use plastic bags from its loose fruit and vegetable aisles by March 2019.

These steps will enable the company to save the waste of approximately 134 million bags, the equivalent of 500t of plastic per annum.

The grocer is also planning to remove all single-use plastic carrier bags by March next year, beginning the process from 8 October to ensure a smooth transition.

“This represents another major step forward in reducing our use of plastics.”

In addition, Waitrose & Partners will introduce new home-compostable bags by next year. These bags will be launched initially on a trial basis at a small number of its branches.

Waitrose’s health and agriculture corporate social responsibility (CSR) head Tor Harris said: “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.”

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Earlier this year, Waitrose & Partners announced that it will stop using takeaway disposable coffee cups in its shops.