Environment Secretary Michael Gove says he wants the Government to introduce a plastic bottle deposit scheme “as soon as possible”.
Mr Gove told Sky News that “change needs to come” as plastic pollution is “killing whales, choking dolphins and degrading our oceans and seas”.
Describing a plastic bottle deposit scheme as a “great idea”, he said it was vital to devise a programme “that others can buy into”.
However, he said it was important “to make sure it will work properly before guaranteeing we will implement it”.
“There’s a real challenge for people like me in Government to step up to the plate and reduce the amount of plastic going into our oceans,” the Environment Secretary added.
“It is simply not good enough to carry on as we have done so before.”
Video: Plastic ‘washing in on every tide’ along Jurassic coast
Citing the success of the 5p charge for plastic bags, Mr Gove added that a bottle return scheme would require the “enthusiastic embrace” of retailers.
He said: “It is the case that some of the big drinks companies have acknowledged more needs to be done.
“So I want to make sure we work with them like we worked with the cosmetics industry to ban microbeads.”
Scientists say more than eight billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s and most of it now lies buried in landfills or litters the oceans and countryside.
Writing in Science Advances journal, a team of US researchers predicted that if current trends continue roughly 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste will be discarded in landfills or polluting the Earth’s surface by 2050.
Video: Documentary: A Plastic Whale
Speaking to Sky News, WWF UK chief executive Tanya Steele said a bottle deposit scheme would be a “first good step” to address the issue in Britain.
She said: “I think it is good that Mr Gove wants to review it to ensure he can put something forward that we can use. Ultimately we need something that works.
“It is critical we put in place pragmatic things that deal with the scale of the issue.”
Earlier this year, Sky launched its Ocean Rescue campaign which is aimed at reducing the amount of plastic waste that ends up in the world’s seas.
:: You can find out more about the Sky Ocean Rescue campaign and how to get involved here.