Waitrose has announced plans to remove 5p single-use plastic carrier bags and loose fruit and vegetable plastic bags from all its stores by spring 2019.

The plans are expected to save 134 million plastic bags, the equivalent of 500 tonnes of plastic a year, and will be trialled in a small number of stores before a wider roll-out next year.

The retailer will become the first UK supermarket to remove fruit and vegetable plastic bags and introduce a home compostable alternative.

The new home compostable bags will look and feel similar to plastic and will feature printed text telling consumers that they can be put into a normal household bin, food waste caddy or home compost unit.

However, the chain is the last of the major supermarkets to announce plans to ditch 5p plastic bags, following announcements from Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons.

Waitrose will remove 5p bags from six stores from October 8 as part of phased programme launching later in the year, ahead of the bags complete removal in March next year.

Waitrose & Partners head of corporate Social Responsibility, health & agriculture 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.”

Waitrose also announced plans earlier this year to stop selling its own label food in black plastic beyond 2019 and to make all of its own label packaging widely recyclable, reusable, or home compostable by 2025.

In addition, the retailer announced that it would remove all takeaway disposable coffee cups from its stores by autumn this year, and has currently removed the cups from 300 of its 348 stores.