Durham County Council has seen its recycling rate soar over the last year, as a result of its successful bid for a £1.6 million grant from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The money was used to improve facilities at 10 of its 15 civic amenity sites, resulting in recycling rates soaring to an average of over 50% in the past year.
Improvements included extending the range and quantity of waste that the county's sites could recycle.
Council cabinet member for waste minimisation and management, Councillor Brian Myers said: "There's no doubt that the improvements have paid handsome dividends and have helped make real and rapid progress in meeting the Government's recycling targets."
But he warned that there had also been "a price to pay". Due to lack of local markets and an increased quantity of recycled material, waste recovery and recycling was more expensive than landfill in the North East, he said.