A PILOT for a revised weekly recycling service will start with an education programme this month, with a three-weekly brown bin collection trial to begin "later in the year".

St Helens Council has confirmed it will carry out a collection trial at approximately 1,000 properties in the Shires Estate and Fingerpost areas.

The initial phase of this will involve an education programme that will show people how to recycle more.

The controversial plans, which are estimated to save £1.4 million over seven years, aims to improve the borough’s recycling rate.

Derek Long, leader of St Helens Council, said the authority will now write to residents to provide details of the pilot.

Cllr Long said: “I can confirm that this pilot scheme will commence as planned at the end of February.

“The scheme will see just under 1,000 properties in total, in the Shires Estate and Fingerpost areas of the Town Centre ward, initially take part in an educational exercise to help residents understand how they can recycle better.

“We will be writing directly to all residents within the pilot areas and providing detailed information, together with advice and support from designated recycling support officers, who will work closely with residents to develop how the system will work and provide tips to help them recycle better.

"The introduction of a change to the collection pattern within the pilot areas will take place later in the year, once residents are fully aware of how the new system will work and how they can maximise the amount they recycle."

The pilot is part of a wider shake-up of waste services and comes shortly after a change to the amount of plastics that can be recycled in the borough.

The shake-up is being driven by a need to reach a national recycling target of 50% by 2010.

In 2016-17 the recycling rate in St Helens was 38.9%, but this is predicted to fall to 35% by 2018-19 if the council sticks with the current waste system.

The council fears that if the borough does not reach the 50% target by 2020, it could be penalised by central government as a result of EU fines.

Cllr Long said: “In addition to the targeted work we will be doing with residents in the pilot areas, we have already taken a number of steps to improve recycling right across the borough, including the recent announcement that we are the first Merseyside council to recycle most plastics, and the imminent launch of a brand new initiative to help residents increase the amount of food waste that they recycle.

“The recycling rate is currently below the target and falls well short of the national and local 50 per cent recycling target.

“Whilst we recycle the most on Merseyside, an improvement is needed to deliver a better environment and to protect ourselves as residents against the increased cost in the waste levy and from fines which would be a direct penalty for failing to improve recycling.”