AN INVESTIGATION is being launched to see if one massive rubbish collection and recycling service can be launched for the whole of Worcestershire.

The cash-strapped county council says it intends to look seriously at suggestions town halls could unite to save money.

It follows a plea from County Hall's Liberal Democrat and Green parties, which believe huge amounts of cash could be saved from it.

At the moment Worcestershire's five district councils operate their own refuse collection systems, which cost taxpayers multi-millions and result in different levels of service.

It has also led to completely different results for recycling, with 43 per cent of household waste in Wychavon being re-used but just 31 per cent in Malvern.

The idea of operating one gigantic collection system has never been looked into seriously in the past.

The county council has now agreed to set up an in-house panel of politicians to review it, under an agreement that the investigation must finish by October.

It comes during a time of major service cuts across Worcestershire's councils which will see at least £110 million slashed off spending by 2019.

A motion to set up the investigation was voted through unanimously during a full council meeting.

Councillor Liz Tucker, Lib Dem group leader at the county council, said: "All we want to do is look at this to see if its feasible."

Councillor Fran Oborski, a Liberal, who also signed a motion backing the investigation, said: "At a time when local government is facing huge cuts, this may be a way to lower the costs of refuse disposal.

"We may investigate this and find there's nothing in it, but at a time when we're making serious reductions in spending it's worth looking at."

Councillor Anthony Blagg, cabinet member for the environment, said: "I agree wholeheartedly we need to scrutinise this.

"It's been mooted in the past many times but never looked at seriously and nobody knows whether there's savings to be made or not."

Costly landfill taxes have risen 102 per cent since 2008, and last year it cost Worcestershire and Herefordshire taxpayers a combined £9.8 million.

At the same time, crippling reductions in central Government funding have led to food waste collections being scrapped in Wychavon and abandoned in Worcester before any prospective launch could take place.

The review comes at a time when plans for a massive rubbish-burning incinerator at Hartlebury are kicking into gear, with the plant due to open in 2017.