Australian supermarket chain Coles has announced plans to remove single-use plastic fresh produce bags from its Australian Capital Territories (ACT) supermarkets as part of a new trial.

From 14 September, the plastic fresh produce bags, also known as barrier bags, will be taken out of all 12 of Coles’ supermarkets across the ACT.

Customers will be encouraged to bring their own reusable bags for their fruits and vegetables or buy reusable mesh fresh produce bags in-store.

Ahead of the trial, Coles will give a free three-pack of reusable mesh fresh produce bags, which are made using 90% recycled materials, to customers who spend $5 on fruit and vegetables in-store between 31 August and 13 September.

Coles chief operations and sustainability officer Matt Swindells said that the new initiative is estimated to reduce around 11t of plastic a year.

Swindells said: “Under our Together to Zero waste ambition, we are always looking for ways to reduce reliance on unnecessary and problematic single-use plastics packaging and provide sustainable solutions to our customers.

“This will be the first time a major Australian supermarket will trial a completely reusable method of helping customers purchase their fresh fruit and veggies.

“We will be looking closely at how our ACT customers respond. These insights will inform our consideration for potentially rolling this out to our customers nationally.”

Coles recently launched a new range of fresh produce bags across Australia as part of its efforts to cut down on plastic in its stores.

The bags are made with 50% recycled plastic and can be returned to REDcycle bins at any of the retailer’s stores for recycling.

Plastic barrier bags will continue to be used at Coles’ delis and for Coles Online orders, while paper bags will be offered at its stores’ fresh produce sections for packing mushrooms.