The analysis, which was produced by Eunomia Research and Consulting, was based on a sample of 58 authorities across England.
It showed that across the sample authorities over a seven-year period, the average recycling rate for contracted-out services was 50%, compared to 44% for in-house.
It also revealed that contracted services achieved lower rates of missed collection, and had a 10% lower cost per percentage point of recycling than in-house services.
Researchers compared authorities on a like-for-like basis, taking into account factors such as geographical area, dry recycling provision, and how consistent provision had been over the previous seven years.
Jacob Hayler, executive director of the ESA, said: “This independent, rigorous research clearly demonstrates that competition for municipal recycling and waste collection services drives higher recycling performance and better value for money for the public purse.
“The results speak for themselves and arrive when the stakes have never been higher, since the government’s new resources and waste strategy will ultimately require local authorities to collectively increase their recycling rates by over 20 percentage points during the next decade.
“Furthermore, as producers of packaging take a greater share of the financial responsibility for waste management under this new strategy, policy-makers and service-commissioners must be responsive to their understandable desire to ensure the contributions they make are spent effectively.
“Industry practitioners, policy-makers, and service-commissioners must make a renewed case for the benefits of competition and challenge, both at a national level in public procurement policy, and at a local level reaching their own commissioning decisions.”