This is, in a nutshell, the conclusion of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the Green Alliance in a report they published this week, ahead of the Local Government White Paper and the new Waste Strategy.

The report says that Britain has one of the worst recycling rates in Europe, along with Greece and Portugal, and suggests that monitoring household rubbish with microchip-fitted bins might be the answer to the country’s waste woes.

According to the IPPR England is only just going to meet the 2005 household waste recycling target of 25% originally set in 2000.

Germany, on the other hand, has achieved rates of around 65% for collection of recyclable materials in areas where local authorities charge around 18p per kilo of waste.

Such a ‘pay as you throw’ system will encourage people to think about their habits and to ensure fairness local authorities should drop blanket charges for waste collection, instead implementing the waster pays regime.

Nick Pearce, director of the IPPR, said: “The UK is bottom of the heap in Europe when it comes to recycling. The Government should give local authorities powers to charge for collecting non-recyclable waste.

“Our European neighbours have shown that where charges are common place, recycling rates will rise. But to make sure any new charging scheme for rubbish collection is fair, it needs be accompanied by a reduction in council tax and an improvement in recycling facilities.”

Julie Hill, Green Alliance Associate, added: “There are few better routes to higher recycling than through giving householders financial incentives. They are a proven, positive and logical way of changing our throwaway society.”

Chipped bins would link the bins to an address and refuse collection vehicles would need to be fitted with equipment to weight the rubbish as they loaded.

While such systems have been shown to work in other European countries, the idea has already found opposition from pro-privacy groups in the UK, with the BBC quoting Simon Davies, founder of Privacy International, as saying: “Residents need to be aware that once they accept this there is no turning back,” he added. “This just takes it to a new level.”

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie