Backbench city councillors have slammed as "totally lacking in ambition" a pledge to recycle 40 per cent of household waste in Birmingham by 2026.
The figure, which appears in the newly published Municipal Waste Strategy, was bitterly criticised by a scrutiny committee yesterday.
Members of all political parties feared the target would leave Birmingham lagging behind major European cities, where recycling rates already top 35 per cent and are expected to hit 75 per cent within 20 years.
The cross-party condemnation will prove embarrassing for the council's Conservative- Liberal Democrat cabinet, which on Monday endorsed the waste strategy describing it as a "fantastic" response to environmental challenges.
Coun Bedser (Lab Longbridge) added: "We should be setting a standard for Birmingham to be a world class sustainable city. I would have hoped by 2026 that we could achieve 60 to 75 per cent recycling and be telling other cities how we achieved it."
He said he would be astounded if the Government accepted a 40 per cent target.
Robert Alden urged Birmingham to be a leader in sustainability. Coun Alden (Con Erdington) added: "I would like to see us being far more ambitious. If we don't aim for the sky, we won't reach the top of the mountain."
Ian Coghill, director of environmental services for Birmingham, said: "Any idea that the council has low ambitions with regard to recycling is profoundly misplaced."