Sainsbury's has added to the UK supermarket anti-plastic push by vowing to replace its plastic packaging and bags with biodegradable material, saving 3,550 tonnes of plastic altogether.

The supermarket chain said that 150m plastic trays and bags on Sainsbury's ready meals and organic food will each year be replaced by 'compostable packaging'.

Instead of plastic, maize, sugar-cane or starch packaging will now be used by Sainsbury, meaning it can naturally break down in a garden compost heap.

Sainsbury's initiative follows similar environment drives from rivals Tesco, which introduced clubcard points for customers who are willing not to use its plastic carrier bags, and Asda, who last week (31 August) called for UK supermarket chains to hold a sustainability conference where they could share expertise on packaging and renewable energy.

Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King said: "Our customers tell us that food packaging is extremely important to them and can determine what they buy, so our packaging team has been looking at ways to address these concerns.

"We have already reduced excessive packaging on our Easter eggs, as well as making more things recyclable. We're now confident that putting 500 types of our food, from ready meals to organics, in compostable packaging will significantly help to reduce the packaging that most threatens the environment. It also creates an opportunity for customers to dispose of their own waste at home.

The retailer is also urging the UK government to ensure that every home in Britain has a compost bin.