David Beckham was worth £25 million to Manchester when he was sold to Real Madrid - now recycling has brought the city four times that amount.
Greater Manchester has been awarded a record £100m from the Government for an audacious attempt to raise its recycling rate from 10% in 2003 to a projected figure of 50% in 2020.
Environment Minister Elliot Morley allocated the money for a private finance initiative (PFI) to halt waste growth and improve treatment facilities.
Morley said: "I am pleased to be able to provide substantial support to Greater Manchester's plans to transform local waste services.
"Greater Manchester's proposals cover a population of 2.2m, and 1.5m tonnes of municipal waste.
"Greater Manchester has put forward a well thought out proposal that offers good prospects for successfully combining the best that the private and public sectors have to offer."
Elsewhere, Cambridgeshire has been awarded £35m towards a PFI project to double its recycling rate to 54% by 2011.
And the London Borough of Southwark has been promised £34.5m for a 25-year waste PFI project.
These three awards bring the total number of authorities that have benefited from cash injections towards waste PFIs to 21. Nine of these are in full operation.