Value grocer Lidl will become the first supermarket group in the UK to remove black plastic packaging from fruit and vegetables later this month.

The initiative, the latest as retailers scramble to reduce use of plastic, will eliminate 50 tonnes of black plastic waste per year as more produce is sold loose.

Black plastic, often used by retailers for aesthetic reasons, is not recyclable in the UK and has been thrown into the sustainability spotlight as a result.

Lidl also pledged to remove black plastic from its fresh meat, fish and poultry.

The change is one of a variety of initiatives in Lidl’s wider plastic reduction strategy.

Lidl aims to cut plastic packaging by 20% across its own-label products and to ensure all its own-label packaging is easily recyclable, reusable or refillable.

Commercial board director Ryan McDonnell said: “We recognise the current challenge that black plastic presents to the recycling industry, which is why we have made it our priority to remove it from our fresh ranges.

“As part of our commitment to achieving our ambitious targets, we are continually exploring opportunities to cut our packaging.”

Lidl said it was one of the first retailers in the UK to encourage customers to reuse their shopping bags and has charged for plastic carrier bags for the last 24 years.

Last year, Lidl removed single-use bags from its stores. It has also committed to only selling paper, rather than plastic, straws.