Controversial plans to trial three-weekly brown bin collections in St Helens have been put on hold, it can be revealed.
A weekly recycling and three-weekly brown bin collection trial was originally slated to take place across two areas within the town centre in February.
However, the revised collections were delayed due to issues sourcing recycling containers.
The council has now sourced new recycling containers and confirmed they will be piloted in the town centre later this year.
But in a surprise move, new council leader David Baines has revealed the planned three-weekly brown bin collections will be “paused” and will not form part of the pilot.
Cllr Baines said: “The decisions the council makes about recycling are based on what works for residents and what works for the environment.
“Three-weekly landfill bin collections with the current recycling containers are clearly not going to work for a large number of residents, so Labour is now committed to keeping a fortnightly landfill bin collection while we pilot new containers.
“We have also tasked council officers with providing better information to help residents recycle.
“As a society we simply have to increase recycling, but we have to give residents the tools in order to do it.”
The pilot is part of a wider shake-up of waste services, which is being driven by a need to reach a national recycling target of 50 per cent by 2020.
If the council does not reach this target by 2020, it risks the government passing on European Union fines of £750,000.
In 2016-17 the recycling rate in St Helens was 38.9 per cent, although the current rate is 41.5 per cent.
Since January 2019, the council has extended the range of plastics it collects for recycling.
Cllr Lynn Clarke, cabinet member for environmental services, said this has already had an impact on recycling levels.
The Town Centre ward councillor said the council hope to see recycling rates increase “significantly” in the areas set to take part in the pilot.
If recycling rates do improve, the council will also save vital funds on landfill charges, which are 2.5 times as expensive as recycling, as well as help towards tackling climate change.
Cllr Clarke said: “The Labour Party is committed to protecting the environment and tackling climate change, and we believe that most residents of St Helens are too.
“Recycling more of our waste is one of the most important things we can all do to protect our planet for future generations.
“Yet as we’ve sought to increase recycling rates and reduce the amount of rubbish we send to landfill, we’ve listened to feedback from residents that the current recycling containers aren’t as good as they could be.
“The containers were also cited by the council’s own scrutiny report as a barrier to improving our recycling rates.
“We’ve therefore sourced innovative new containers through a local company, Coral in Haydock, and we will be the first local authority in the UK to use them.”
Cllr Clarke said the new containers will be piloted later this year in the Town Centre ward, on the current cycle of weekly recycling and fortnightly landfill collections.
She said the council will also provide advice and support for residents.