Tesco has backed the WI - despite members dumping bags of packaging waste at its stores in a protest over excessive packaging.

The women pulled the stunt at dozens of supermarkets nationwide in a bid to raise awareness of the impact that unnecessary supermarket packaging has on the environment.

"The WI are right to identify this issue," said a Tesco spokeswoman. "We take it very seriously and share their ambition to reduce waste and carrier bag usage and increase recycling.

"Although some packaging is essential to maintain freshness or keep a product safe and clean, we are committed to making sure our packaging is not excessive."

The National Federation of Women's Institutes wants stores to offer incentives to reduce the use of plastic carrier bags, adopt more environmentally friendly practices, extend the use of biodegradable packaging that can be composted and investigate other ways of improving packaging processes.

It particularly criticises fruit and veg that are put into trays before being wrapped in plastic.

NFWI chair Fay Mansell said: "I urge the public to join our campaign and return unnecessary and excessive packaging to supermarkets. Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing our world today. Supermarkets must take action now to reduce the packaging which, as landfill waste, releases greenhouse gases."

The women are also writing to supermarket managers warning that they will lose custom if the chains do not change their approach to packaging.