More than 2,000 tonnes of waste in St Albans has been sent to landfill instead of recycling during the past year.
In a cabinet meeting on Thursday it was revealed St Albans District Council has failed to reach its 60 per cent recycling target, with the figures falling to 49 per cent between 2012 and 2013.
During discussions, environment portfolio holder for the council, Councillor Daniel Chichester Miles blamed the figures on 2,645 tonnes of waste being sent to landfill rather than being recycled.
The figures have fallen by one per cent in the last year. Officers said the problem may centre round contamination, such as shiny cardboard such as breakfast cereal boxes in green bins at the Agrivert recycling plant near London Colney.
Councillor Jacob Quagliozzi said: "Landfill is taxed at £80 per tonne, now perhaps we get a discount for being a good customer but at that rate we are looking at a cost to the taxpayer of £211,600, with St Albans’ share being in excess of £40,000.
"That is a scandalous lack of value for money for the taxpayer."
A new recycling scheme is now being rolled out across the district to increase the amount of waste recycled.
The collection scheme allows people to recycle a wider range of plastics and removes cardboard from the green waste.
The cabinet heard that if the success of the Redbourn trial was repeated across the district, it would produce a recycling rate of approximately 54 per cent based on figures to the end of January 2013.
Councillor Quagliozzi added: "To be fair to St Albans District Council, we’ve been more pro-active than almost anyone else on this and the action taken to implement a new scheme should prevent this happening again, but there are lessons to learn for all here."
The new scheme will offer residents a chance to recycle a wider range of plastics, including margarine tubs, fruit punnets and food trays.
There will also be a chance to remove all cardboard from green waste collection and recycle it with paper.
Residents are asked to remove all shiny cardboard from green waste otherwise it will be be rejected and sent to landfill.
Shiny cardboard includes printed cardboard such as cereal and washing powder boxes and cartons used to store frozen food, which should be placed in the black bin for the time being.
Councillor Daniel Chichester-Miles thanked residents in Redbourn and Harpenden for welcoming the new scheme.
He said: "It is one of the council’s priority projects to boost recycling beyond 60 per cent by 2015. "One key aspect of the new scheme is the removal of cardboard from the green waste. Currently, some green waste is being contaminated with shiny cardboard that cannot be composted and is being sent to landfill.
"This is more important than ever as the district’s household recycling and composting rate fell slightly to 49 per cent in the last year.
"This is partly due to contamination of green waste, but also due to a smaller amount of garden waste being collected as a result of poor weather."
Residents will receive a free food recycling caddy and a starter pack of compostable liners later this year.