There are "shocking" discrepancies in the number of bins that councils ask resident to use, according to a report from the Taxpayer's Alliance.
The organisation surveyed councils across the country and found that on average households sort their rubbish into four different bins.
The survey found 12 councils collect seven or more bins, 58 councils collect six or more, 126 councils collect five or more, 161 councils collect three or fewer, 17 collect two bins and only two councils collect one bin per household.
Newcastle-under-Lyme was named as the council requiring the most sorting, providing residents with nine separate containers for their rubbish. Dumfries and Galloway and the Isles of Scilly collect their waste in just one.
Chris Daniel, policy analyst at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said the disparities were "ridiculous" and due to pressure from the European Union.
"Having to sort rubbish into numerous bins often frustrates taxpayers, even if they want to recycle," he said.
"It's ridiculous that some councils ask for waste to be sorted into seven bins or more; this places needless pressure on households and isn't a good way of encouraging recycling.
"Meddling EU rules mean that councils can't send too much to landfill, but plenty of local authorities cope with three bins, so there's no reason others can't too. We need to reject EU rules like this when they go too far and aren't in the interests of ordinary families."
The EU landfill directive set legally binding targets on member states to reduce the amount of waste headed to landfill sites. Financial penalties are imposed if those targets are not met.
Cllr Gary Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association Environment Board, said the various recycling requirements reflect the different areas of the UK.
"There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to bins," he said.
"The infrastructure for dealing with waste differs across the country, so do the types of homes people live in. What works in inner-city London won't necessarily work in rural areas."
Cllr Porter said councils could not afford EU fines in the current economic climate, giving them an incentive to recycle.
"We cannot escape the fact that we can no longer throw away our rubbish without worrying about the environmental or financial consequences," he said.