RECYCLING and waste tonnage in St Helens has soared throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the latest figures show.

With lockdowns and widespread home working leading to tonnes of extra waste collected almost every month, figures from July 2020 to February 2021 show that tonnage was up significantly over the same period in 2019/20.

Recycling was up 10.84 percent, green waste up 13.92 per cent, and residual waste up 11.22 percent.

This equates to more than 4,000 tonnes of additional waste and recycling.

The sheer volume of materials to be collected is causing delays to recycling collections, as vehicles must return to the waste recycling depot to offload waste more often.

The council is assuring residents that, when delays do occur, crews will always return the next day for missed collections.

It is also working with its recycling processing provider to find a solution that enables more efficient processing of the increased volumes, getting crews back on their routes as quickly as possible.

Like in the Christmas and New Year period when an increase in waste is expected, recycling will occasionally have to be collected separately in a rear-loading bin lorry in some areas to manage demand.

All recyclables collected in this manner go on to be separated and recycled.

Jonathan Edwards, St Helens Borough Council's Director of Operations for Place Services, said: “While it’s positive that residents are recycling more, the extra material this ‘new normal’ has generated has a direct impact on our waste and recycling services.

"The more people at home, the more waste is generated in the household and the more resources and time it takes to collect.

“We’ve been deploying every vehicle in our fleet to meet the demands, but until we can improve efficiency at local processing facilities, delays may continue in the short term.

"We are committed to delivering a quality waste and recycling service to our community and are doing everything possible to avoid any delays in collections.”