BRADFORD-based Morrisons has removed expanded polystyrene packaging from all of its own brand groceries.

The firm is making the move because polystyrene is not recyclable through kerbside collections and lasts for hundreds of years.

The move will prevent 600 tonnes of the material being disposed of every year.

Morrisons used polystyrene on its fresh food counters - for meat and fish trays - and as a base for in-store-made pizzas. It has also been used to package some delicate frozen desserts and cakes.

Approximately 90 million meat trays, fish trays and pizza bases were used in Morrisons last year.

The supermarket will instead introduce cardboard bases for pizzas and frozen goods. At its butchers and fishmongers clear recyclable plastic trays will be used, which are made from recycled plastic bottles and can also be recycled.

Morrisons new more environmentally-friendly packaging will also tell customers how it can be recycled, with the clear trays featuring the wording "rinse and recycle" on the bottom.

Natasha Cook, packaging manager at Morrisons, said: “Polystyrene is a particularly difficult material to recycle – so we wanted to take it out of our products quickly.

"Taking plastic out of the environment remains one of our customers’ most pressing concerns so we continue to remove unnecessary plastic packaging or make it more recyclable.”

Expanded polystyrene is a packaging material incorporating plastic which has been injected with air - to make it lightweight. However, as the plastic content is low, the material has little value to recyclers - and therefore has to date been incinerated or sent to landfill.

Morrisons has already committed to all of its own-branc plastic packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by no later than 2025.

It is also one of the original signatories to WRAP’s UK Plastics PACT, an industry initiative which aims to transform the way businesses use plastic and prevent plastics polluting the environment.

Other initiatives the firm has already taken to reduce plastic pollution include:

removing 5p plastic carrier bags from all stores and offering customers a range of re-useable bags;

trialling the option of using large 20p paper carrier bags in eight of its stores;

allowing customers to use their own containers for meat and fish at butcher and fishmonger counters;

removing small plastic fruit and vegetable bags from greengrocery aisles, and replacing them with paper bags;

identifying, reducing and removing any unnecessary plastic packaging in own brand products; and

making more packaging recyclable.