Marks & Spencer has launched more than 90 lines of loose fruit and vegetables that are free of plastic packaging in a trial at its Tolworth store.

The range includes hard fruit and vegetables, as well as more perishable items such as soft fruits and berries, which will be instead packaged in compostable punnets.

M&S has introduced trained greengrocers to help customers as they select from two aisles of fruit and vegetables free of plastic packaging.

The greengrocers will also provide advice to customers about how to preserve fresh produce and prevent food waste at home. M&S has removed “best before” date labels from fresh fruit and veg as part of the store trial. 

Alongside the initiatives at Tolworth, M&S has committed to launching additional lines of loose produce and more sustainable alternatives to plastic in every UK store, which it claims could save 580 tonnes of plastic waste over two years.

The plan will involve replacing plastic produce bags with paper ones and phasing out plastic barcode stickers in favour of eco-friendly alternatives.

Louise Nicholls, Head of Food Sustainability, said: “We’re proud to launch a series of market-leading initiatives to help our customers take home less plastic.

”We know our customers want to play their part in cutting out plastic, while as a business our goal is to become zero-waste by 2025. That’s why we’re working hard to reduce the amount of plastic packaging we use without compromising on food quality and contributing to waste.

“Our trial at Tolworth is an important milestone in our plastic reduction journey and bringing back the traditional greengrocer will play a key part in educating our customers. Our plan is to create long-term impact in the future using tangible insights from the Tolworth store trial.”

The three-month trial at Tolworth will be the springboard for M&S’s long-term plastic reduction strategy, providing insights and customer feedback for an effective approach across all stores.

The initiative supports M&S’s target of becoming a zero-waste business by 2025. The retailer has already phased out 75 million pieces of plastic cutlery given out in its stores each year and replaced two million straws with paper alternatives as part of its plastics plan, which aims to remove 1,000 tonnes of plastic packaging by Spring 2019.

All of M&S’s packaging will be “widely recycled” by 2022 in a bid to help customers to recycle more.