Scotland will be the first country in the world to measure its waste not just by waste but by its carbon footprint.
Instead of simply weighing what is recycled and what ends up in the tip the new carbon metric will factor in how much carbon was used in producing the rubbish and how much will be saved by recycling it.
Zero Waste Scotland says this is the first attempt to measure impact on climate change as part of waste management.
Scotland aims to recycle 70% of its waste by 2025 but currently lags behind its English neighbours where the most recent figures show that around 40% of waste is currently recycled. Scotland aims eventually to become a zero waste country.
Under the new system some rubbish will be more equal than other rubbish, with so-called closed loop materials like glass given a higher green rating because they can be recycled back into glass rather than simpler products like insulation.
Scottish Environment Minister Richard Lochhead said: ''I'm delighted to announce today another huge and world-leading step the Scottish Government is taking to monitor Scotland's recycling successes. The new way of measuring performance will focus on the carbon savings of each item, rather than its weight.
''This demonstrates the Scottish Government's Zero Waste Plan in action and another huge step towards our vision of a zero waste Scotland.''
Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland said: ''Closed loop thinking is central to achieving zero waste - because it means less resources are used in the first place, but also because it can give the best economic advantage by ensuring higher value markets for the materials in the economy.
''Zero Waste Scotland fully supports the carbon metric and we will work with councils and others to apply it and to develop the collections and sorting infrastructure we need to meet our ambitious zero waste targets.''
Meanwhile, a new report by WWF Scotland and the recycling group Wrap found that Scots threw out 570,000 tonnes of food and drink waste every year, 3% of the country's CO2 emissions and the equivalent of 600,000 cars' emissions.