Families in Birmingham could face charges of up to £25 a month if new 'waste taxes' being considered by the Government are introduced.

Ministers are considering plans to charge households by the kilo for the amount of non-recyclable waste they leave out.

The proposals would see binmen weighing bags or wheelie bins of domestic rubbish to calculate charges for collection. Recyclable waste will be collected for free.

The average weight of non-recyclable waste for families in Birmingham is about 12.5 kilos a week or 650 kilos a year, according to official council statistics on an individual week at the end of July.

If charging was similar to comparable schemes on the Continent, fees could be between 25p and 50p per kilo. This would see each of the 408,000 households in Birmingham paying up to £25 a month.

A senior Midland Conservative MP has heavily criticised the proposals, which are being considered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as part of a shake-up of local government.

Caroline Spelman (Meriden), the Conservative frontbench spokesman on communities and local government, described it as "yet another stealth tax". "The council tax is already very high for most people and this would mean people are in effect paying twice," she said.

However, a body representing local councils and environmental campaigners welcomed the plans, which Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw claims will introduce a "polluter pays" principle.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: "This is an idea we have long supported which would mean people who produce the most waste should pay the most and those that produce less would pay less.

"We are also looking at ways of getting the producers of single-use items, such as plastic bags and nappies, to act against increases in waste."

On the Continent, identification chips are put on wheelie bins which are then weighed to calculate the charge.

Critics have expressed concern the plans could encourage people to dump rubbish in neighbour's gardens or elsewhere. However, the Government says this has not happened in other schemes.

Anna Watson, waste campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "This is one of the measures that will help to reduce the amount of waste sent to incinerators or landfill.

"It has shown a real impact on the amount of black bags or wheelie bins that are put out for collection in Western Europe.

"It would ensure that people thought about what they are buying and it would also affect retailers and producers further up the chain as there would be little demand for badlypackaged products."