A scheme aimed at reducing the number of one and two cent coins in circulation in Ireland is under way.

From today, customers will have their change rounded to the nearest five cents.

The Central Bank says that rounding will only be used in cash transactions.

It will be conducted on a voluntary basis, meaning customers can opt out and ask for the exact change.

One and two cent coins will remain legal tender.

Since the euro was introduced in 2001, Ireland has spent €37m issuing one and two cent coins.

A one cent coin costs 1.65 cent to produce, and a two cent coin costs 1.94 cent.

The introduction of the rounding scheme follows a trial in Wexford in 2013 and similar measures in The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Hungary and Belgium.

The Central Bank says it expects the initiative to be quickly supported.

Charities have called on people to donate their one and two cent coins to good causes.

Retail Ireland says businesses across the country are ready for the rounding initiative scheme.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said they had been working over the last number of months and years to prepare for the voluntary policy initiative led by the Department of Finance and the Central Bank.

Mr Burke said it was not cost free for retailers - regarding software development and staff training especially large retailers.

He said there was no evidence from the Wexford trial initiative that rounding 'up' would take place and that broadly the feedback there had been very positive.