Councils in England and Wales have urged the government not to force them to adopt a "pay-as-you-throw" charging scheme on household rubbish.
The UK dumps more than 27m tonnes of waste each year
The Local Government Association says decisions on whether to charge people for the amount of rubbish they generate should be left to each authority.
The environment department, Defra, said no decision had been made on whether to allow variable charges.
If allowed, councils would decide what worked best for each area, it said.
Charges based on the amount of rubbish left by households are common in other parts of Europe and are proven to encourage more recycling.
BBC correspondent John Andrew said that, with the soaring cost, both financially and environmentally, of dumping waste, the arrival of pay-as-you-throw in the UK looked increasingly more likely.
Such a move would need a change in the law and councils are worried the government may impose a blanket system across the country.
The LGA - which represents more than 400 councils in England and Wales - says councils should decide whether to bring in charges.
It is also seeking a guarantee that, while those who recycle more could save money, no-one will end up paying more local tax overall.
A Defra spokeswoman said the government had yet to decide on whether to allow variable rubbish charges.
She denied any such scheme would be imposed, saying councils would be allowed to decide what worked best for each area.