Recycling in Nottinghamshire needs to increase to 70%, council bosses have said.
The county council said landfill sites across the county were "rapidly running out of space".
Both city and county councils have come together to draw up a strategy for dealing with waste up until 2025.
Currently just under 50% of commercial, industrial and household waste is recycled.
Latest estimates suggest between four and five million tonnes of waste could be produced in Nottinghamshire every year over the next 20 years, said the council.
Nottinghamshire County Council's cabinet member for environment and sustainability Richard Butler said: "Doing nothing is simply not an option.
"Landfill sites across Nottinghamshire are rapidly running out of space, the costs of disposal are increasing and above all we have to meet stringent national targets for recycling.
"We know that this is a very ambitious target, and one that everyone will find very difficult to meet in the current economic climate. However, circumstances could change well before 2020 and we have to take a long term view."
Other options include the creation of resource recovery parks where a combination of new recycling, energy recovery and other types of waste facilities could be located on a single site.
Councillor Jane Urquhart, of Nottingham City Council, said: "Recycling more will depend on the ability to process a wider range of materials from businesses and households."
The draft proposals will be discussed by both councils next week.