Recycling schemes are being used worldwide to reduce the impact of municipal waste. Those using public funds are usually obliged to set performance indicators by which the standards of such schemes can be measured. In the UK, a set of statutory Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPI) must be reported annually, such as the Quality of Fair Access, which monitors the public’s access to recycling facilities within 1000 m (known as BVPI 91). This work shows that BVPI 91, and performance indicators like it, quantify only very basic recycling services. A much more sensitive performance indicator is developed in this paper, labelled as the Maximum Practicable Recycling Rate Provision (MPRRP) achievable by a local authority. It indicates the percentage of local waste that could be reasonably recycled using the services provided, calculated on the basis of the average composition of the local waste, the local population coverage for collection of any materials, and nationally provided information stating how much of each material stream is generally suitable (practical) for recycling. Evidence for the usefulness of this new quantity is presented. Although this paper refers a particular performance indicator in the UK, its findings are applicable to all urban areas worldwide needing to monitor recycling service. Furthermore, the MPRRP could be used for planning purposes, and for determining the level of performance of an existing service, by comparing its predicted recycling rate to that actually obtained. Further work is now being carried out on this.