Philip Hammond is set to announce that the Government will study proposals for new taxes and charges to crack down on the use of throwaway plastic in a new drive to protect the environment.
Coffee cups, polystyrene takeaway boxes and bubble-wrap are among the items that could be slapped with punitive charges.
The move follows growing concerns that disposal plastics are polluting the world’s oceans and killing marine wildlife.
But the Chancellor is also likely to face accusations that hard-pressed households will be squeezed if businesses pass on the cost of the taxes to consumers.
In his Budget next Wednesday, Mr Hammond will announce that the Government is to consult business and environmental groups on the new green crackdown.
Whitehall sources said the plan move forms part of the Government’s 25-year environment strategy and comes after the plastic carrier bag levy and a ban on microbeads.
Environmental scientists claim more than a million birds and 100,000 sea mammals and turtles die every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.
Officials point to the danger to wildlife highlighted most recently by Sir David Attenborough ahead of the BBC’s Blue Planet II series.
In one recent episode, the veteran broadcaster described the “heart-breaking” sight of an albatross feeding plastic to its young chick instead of fish.
An estimated 12 million tonnes of waste enter the world’s oceans every year – a rubbish truck every minute – and the problem is so bad vast floating areas of plastic have formed in the world’s seas, including one in the Pacific, the size of France.
The amount of single-use plastic wasted every year in the UK is estimated to be enough to fill the Albert Hall 1,000 times.
One in three fish caught in the English Channel containing pieces of plastic, the Government said.
Environmental campaigners welcomed the move last night.
Jeff Knott, head of nature policy at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: “A taxon single-use plastic is a positive step forward.”
Tisha Brown, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “Ocean plastic pollution is a global emergency, it is everywhere from the Arctic Ocean at top of the world, to the Marianas Trench at the bottom of the Pacific.
“It’s in whales, turtles and 90% of sea birds, and it’s been found in our salt, our tap water and even our beer.
“The Treasury’s announcement is only a statement of intent, but it recognises the significance of the problem and the urgent need for a solution.
“There is a long way to go, but hopefully this is the beginning of the end for single-use plastic.”
Dr Mike Barrett, WWF director of science and policy, said: “Too often birds, fish, turtles and whales are found dead having eaten plastic. Plastic is suffocating our seas.
“There is no greater example of the havoc we have on the natural world.
“Any action to tackle single-use plastic is a good thing, but we must ensure any action is truly ambitious if we want to make the real difference needed to help save the planet.”
And Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth chief executive, pointed to the popularity of the plastic bag charge and said moves to introduce something similar for throw-away plastic items would be good news.
“With our marine life choking on plastic, and our rivers and waterways polluted, the Government should also introduce measures to phase out these items entirely.”
He called for investment in scientific efforts to find alternatives, a timeline for banning single-use items and for government contracts to avoid polluting plastic.