The Environment Agency (EA) chairman is expected to call on councils to "hold their nerve" on recycling, during a speech this evening.
Lord Chris Smith will highlight the need to maintain public confidence and support for recycling along with quality material outputs.
In an address to the Aldersgate Group, a group of environmentally-aware businesses and non-governmental organisations, Smith plans to challenge councils that have discontinued recycling services to take a longer-term view. He will call on them to identify new domestic markets for recycled materials and prevent a drop in residents support for recycling.
Smiths speech preview revealed he will say: Local authorities have a duty both legally and morally to reduce waste going to landfill sites and must do the right thing for the environment, despite the economic crisis.
Local authorities in England and Wales must hold their nerve. The collection, treatment and reprocessing capacity for recyclable waste in England and Wales must be retained and expanded if we are to meet our legal targets on landfill waste.
It's vital that this economic slowdown does not jeopardise public confidence in recycling.
He will also say that there is clear and compelling evidence of the publics desire to recycle, and that local authorities that withdraw recycling schemes risk reducing public confidence and support, which has taken years to build.
Smith will call for quality counts and standards to be maintained and say: Those operators that can maintain well-sorted, top-quality recyclable materials are more likely to find a market going forward.
Lord Smiths three point plan to protect recycling:
* In the short-term - well-sorted, top-quality recyclable materials will be more likely to maintain a market.
* In the medium-term there is the need to identify and invest in new or innovative uses for our materials to divert even more waste from landfill.
* In the long-term - we need to look at investing in more infrastructure to treat recyclable materials here in the UK, to avoid dependency on the export market.