Iceland and Co-op are the first UK supermarkets to back a plastic bottle deposit scheme aimed at reducing pollution.

The grocers told Sky News that, while the idea will impact production costs, it will benefit the long-term sustainability of the planet.

The deposit scheme means that Co-op and Iceland customers will be given their money back when they return empty plastic bottles, which campaigners believe will help reduce the waste reaching UK beaches and the ocean.

Iceland Foods director for sustainability Richard Walker said: “Every minute, a truckload of plastic waste enters our oceans. 

”Deposit return schemes work. In Norway theirs has led to 96% of all bottles being returned, with similar results in other countries that have adopted a deposit return scheme. Britain urgently needs to do the same.”

Co-op retail chief executive Jo Whitfield described the retailer as a “firm supporter” of initiatives designed to boost recycling levels.

“The Co-op is in favour of creating a deposit return scheme which increases the overall recycling of packaging and significantly reduces litter and, importantly, helps tackle marine pollution,” she said. 

The move comes as campaigners warn that the amount of rubbish on UK beaches has increased 10% in the past year.

A similar strategy has already boosted recycling rates in other countries and the Scottish Government has committed to introducing one.