The Co-op is the latest grocer to ban own-brand single-use plastics as part of a wider ethical scheme, unveiled later this week.

The move is part of a wider “hard-hitting” ethical scheme which the grocer will unveil later this week to tackle fair trade, healthy eating and food waste as well as plastics.

The grocer joins Lidl, Iceland and Morrisons in its bid to reduce the use of non-recyclable plastic, which adds to landfill and pollutes oceans.

As part of its plastics initiative, the Co-op will ban own-brand single-use plastics and reduce its overall use of plastic within the next five years. It will also stop using hard-to-recycle materials such as black plastic, which is often used in readymeal containers.

It will also replace carrier bags with compostable equivalents, which can then be used to line food waste caddies, initially in locations where the bags are accepted in food waste collections.

Co-op retail chief executive Jo Whitfield said: “The price of food wrapped in plastic has become too much to swallow and, from today, the Co-op will phase out any packaging which cannot be reused.

“The first step to remove single-use plastic will be to launch compostable carrier bags in our stores. They are a simple but ingenious way to provide an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic shopping bags.”

“Our ban on single-use plastic is central to our new ethical blueprint. The Co-op was founded on righting wrongs, and we first campaigned to stop food fraud.

“Now we face huge global challenges and have created a recipe for sustainability to source responsibly, treat people with fairness and produce products which have minimal impact on the planet.”