The demise of the single-use plastic carrier bag has come a step closer with Tesco, Asda and the East of England Co-op all revealing plans to limit their distribution of free bags.

With the Government keen to force retailers to charge for carrier bags if they do not implement their own reduction schemes, Asda has put bags under the counter at all of its 355 stores, and Tesco is trialling a similar scheme at its large format Extra supermarkets.

The East of England Co-operative Society, with 135 stores across East Anglia, is to stop issuing free plastic bags from next month. It will continue to offer degradable bags at the cost of a penny each.

Chief executive Richard Samson said: “We would encourage our competitors to follow our lead and take more decisive action now to help resolve this national problem.”

At Asda and the Tesco Extra stores where bags have been hidden from view, they are still available free upon request.