The Prime Minister described plastic waste as "one of the great environmental scourges of our time" as she launched a 25-year strategy to tackle the issue.
The government will also pledge to eliminate all "avoidable plastic waste" by 2042 - bringing forward by eight years a 2050 target laid out in its Clean Growth Strategy for all avoidable waste.
Two-thirds of all plastic packaging in Britain ends up being landfilled or burned, according to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. She outlined plans for a tax or charge on single use packaging and urged retailers to introduce plastic-free aisles. WRAP commented that the initiative aims to eliminate "unnecessary and problematic single-use packaging" as well as ensuring plastics packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable.
"In 2015, we introduced the 5 pence charge on plastic carrier bags, we now see 9 billion fewer bags being used", said the premier, who signalled the move last week.
Earlier this week, a ban on plastic microbeads used in cosmetics and personal care products came into force across Britain.
"We look back in horror at some of the damage done to our environment in the past and wonder how anyone could have thought that, for example, dumping toxic chemicals untreated into rivers was ever the right thing to do. We must reduce the demand for plastic, reduce the number of plastics in circulation and improve our recycling rates", she will say.
"What we need is serious action immediately".
Environment groups said the most glaring omission in May's scheme was the lack of support for deposit return schemes that pay consumers to return plastic bottles after use and are common in many parts of the world including Denmark, Germany and Australia.
Greenpeace UK's executive director John Sauven said that the UK "needs a 25-month emergency plan more than it needs a 25-year vision" and that much more robust measures are needed to meaningfully tackle plastic and air pollution. Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman called the plant "insubstantial" and "weak" and said the government has "missed a critical opportunity" to make progress in protecting the environment.
"As it stands, the government's plan is little more than a kneejerk reaction which works as a placeholder prior to the looming policy changes ahead in our post-Brexit landscape", said Carvell.