Marks and Spencer is to begin charging its food shoppers for carrier bags.
Customers will have to pay 5p for plastic bags, with the money raised going to an environmental charity.
Chief executive Sir Stuart Rose said the company wanted to "make it easy for our customers to do their bit to help the environment".
Campaigners say plastic bags damage the environment. Some 13bn are given free to UK shoppers every year, and they take an estimated 1,000 years to decay.
The move by Marks and Spencer follows a trial at 50 of its stores in Northern Ireland and the South West of England, which resulted in demand for polythene bags falling by more than 70%.
Not only will this scheme reduce the amount of food carrier bags sent to landfill sites but it will also help improve the quality of life in towns and cities across the country
-Tony Hawkhead, Groundwork
Sir Stuart said that if that figure was replicated across the country, the move could reduce the number of bags used by 280m each year.
"On top of this, our customers will be raising valuable funds to go to our partner charity, Groundwork, to invest in much-needed green spaces in our neighbourhoods."
Groundwork is an environmental regeneration charity, and its chief executive Tony Hawkhead said: "We all want our neighbourhoods to be cleaner and greener, and our experience shows that when a major household name takes the initiative, it can encourage millions of people to change their behaviour.
"Not only will this scheme reduce the amount of food carrier bags sent to landfill sites, but it will also help improve the quality of life in towns and cities across the country."
Ireland introduced a tax on plastic bags in 2002, which currently stands at 15p and led to a reduction in their use - but, according to the British Retail Consortium, sales of bin liners across the country subsequently rose.
Supermarket Tesco used 3bn plastic bags last year. It does not charge for them, instead offering bonuses such as extra clubcard points if they re-use bags.
All food customers at Marks and Spencer will get free long-lasting bags from early April for one month. The 5p charge will then begin on 6 May.
© British Broadcasting Corporation