Lidl is to become the first main supermarket to ditch 5p plastic bags.

It will stop selling the single-use carrier bags in its stores from July 1.

After that, customers caught out at the checkout will need to buy reusable bags instead that cost between 9p and 59p.

The company says the move will save an estimated 63 million plastic bags annually and help to "strongly discourage consumers from a single-use, throw-away mind-set".

Lidl UK commercial director Ryan McDonnell said: "Our pledge to stop selling single-use carrier bags is all about promoting a more environmentally friendly alternative.

"It will directly encourage shoppers to think about sustainability, and the role they can play in reducing unnecessary plastic waste.

"The levy introduced by the government last year was an important start, and as a responsible retailer, we see it as our role to invest in a sustainable future and to bring our customers on that journey with us."

More than seven billion of the bags were handed out by seven main retailers in 2014, but this figure dropped to just over half a billion in the first six months after the 5p charge was introduced in October last year, according to the latest figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Retailers with 250 or more full-time equivalent employees have to charge a minimum of 5p for the bags they provide for shopping in stores and for deliveries, but smaller shops and paper bags are not included.