Tesco supermarkets have been asked to remove plastic bags from their T-Bars and cashiers have been ordered to only give out carrier bags from under the counter to customers who specifically ask for them.
A Tesco spokesman said: In some of our stores we have gone bag on demand. We are keen to break the environmental damage of a lifetime.
Terry Leahy [Tesco chief executive] has made a push on green issues, and this is one of our many issues that we are working on. It is important for the future of everyone.
The spokesman admitted that Tesco wanted to put fewer bags on the street but insisted that it will not impose a charge on customers.
Last month Environment Minister Joan Ruddock warned that unless retailers do more to reduce the number of plastic bags handed out, the Government would make them charge customers for bags.
Asda said it has seen a 30% reduction in bag use since it removed plastic bags from its checkouts.
Asda head of corporate policy for sustainability and ethics Julian Walker-Palin told MRW: I have noticed in peoples trolleys, that more and more customers are using reusable bags. The usage of plastic bags has gone down and the sales of reusable bags have gone up. If you put the two together more people are reusing bags they have previously purchased from us.
But we still need to help behavioural change and reinforce the message of reusing bags for shopping. Some people still forget bags at the back of their car boot. Next month we will be putting up signs in the car park to remind customers to bring their bags with them.
Walker-Palin explained that reducing the number of plastic bags in circulation would not come overnight and may take several months. He said Asda had introduced customer listening groups and compiled weekly reports on plastic bag usage in store.
Walker-Palin said he was confident Asda could achieve a 50% reduction in carrier bags by next Easter. But he warned: It is about taking people with you and not introducing punitive measures like charging.