Belfast City Council is consulting on introducing a uniform weekly household recycling collection.
For historic reasons it operates four recycling systems across the city, with box colours varying between neighbourhoods.
The council said it had achieved a 44% recycling rate but this has plateaued, with recyclable items going into residual waste containers and contaminated ones into those for recycling. It has a target of recycling half of materials by 2020.
Kate Nicholl, chair of the people and communities committee, said: “We can’t shy away from change when the evidence is stacking up to show that we are not going to meet the required 50% recycling target by 2020.
“We are already spending more than £26m each year managing our waste. By collecting our recyclables more efficiently, we could have better quality recycling materials, create more jobs and the money spent on managing waste could be better spent on investment in the city and other council services.”
She said rationalising the recycling system could see a weekly recycling collection of a wider range of materials than at present, including food waste.
The consultation also covers the black residual waste bins and whether these should be reduced in size to 180 litres or have collection frequencies cut to either three or four weeks.