Cash-strapped councils could save £54 million each year if householders disposed of recyclable waste properly, according to a new report.

A study suggests that the average Scottish household throws away ten full wheelie bins worth of recyclable waste every year.

It comes amid calls for the one billion Christmas cards sold last year in the UK to be recycled.

With councils in Scotland claiming to face the prospect of £500m in cuts as a result of the recent Scottish budget, costs related to inefficient recycling add an unnecessary pressure, according to new figures compiled by Zero Waste Scotland.

They show nearly two-thirds of all the waste that ends up in non-recyclable waste bins in Scotland could actually have been recycled. An estimated 670,000 tonnes of recyclables ends up in general waste bins, and most of it ends up in landfill, costing councils millions in landfill fines.

The majority is food waste, with only 27 per cent of food waste collected by local authorities ending up in kerbside recycling services.

The report says huge progress has been made on recycling, with reductions in the volume of almost all recyclable waste types being disposed of in landfill bins–- from paper and cared to glass, textiles and food waste – since 2009.

But overall 60 per cent of what ends up in ‘landfill’ general waste bins could have been recycled using existing kerbside recycling services. Now Scottish householders are being urged to resolve to do better in the new year, to help the public finances as well as the environment.

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland said: “This report highlights a huge opportunity for all of us to continue to make the right choices when it comes to our waste.

“Recycling is the right thing to do for our environment and our economy – I would urge everyone to resolve to recycle more in 2018. It’s an easy thing to do and something you can rightly feel good about.”

There is a particular need to recycle more food waste, as when it rots in landfill, it emits greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change, Mr Gulland said. “Our research shows food waste alone accounts for 17 per cent of all carbon impacts from Scotland’s waste. If food waste is recycled instead, those harmful gases can be collected and turned into energy.”

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet secretary for the environment said recycling rates were growing and had topped 60 per cent in some council areas. “I support Zero Waste Scotland’s call for us all to recycle even more in 2018,” she said.

Meanwhile SNP MP John McNally, the party’s Westminster environment spokesman, called for people to seek advice on how to best dispose of Christmas cards, wrapping paper and Christmas trees. “The environmental impact of the festive season is big – but we can all play our part,” he said.