Heart of England Co-operative Society has joined the many co-ops that have taken action to reduce carrier bag use.

The society, which has 33 food stores in Coventry, Warwickshire and Leicestershire, has removed free plastic carrier bags from its checkouts and will encourage shoppers to buy bags for life. Carrier bags will still be given away if asked for.

"The message we are trying to get across is that a bag is for life and not just one shopping trip," said Peter Fletcher, deputy general manager of the co-op's food division. "Shoppers can use a bag for life at least 35 times more than an ordinary carrier bag."

East of England Co-op introduced a charge for its carrier bags last year, and Plymouth & South West Co-op has removed bags from tills. The Co-op Group has agreed to cut bag use by 50% by May this year.