Sainsbury will be the first supermarket to take on a new range of biodegradable and compostible containers, designed by the radio frequency applications group Stanelco.

The containers - made from potato or corn starches - are intended for the food industry, although Stenelco hopes they will be used elsewhere.

Stenelco chief executive Ian Balchin said: “The worldwide market for foamed containers, such as food trays and fast food boxes is enormous, running into billions of units annually.

“We do not know at present what the commercial potential of this technology is, that will depend on the response and endeavours of the packaging industry.”