A decision on introducing controversial "pay as you throw" charges for rubbish has been delayed, the BBC understands.
The plan was aimed at boosting recycling
Defra was expected to announce as early as Thursday it would go ahead with bin charges - a document outlining the plans has been seen by the BBC.
But Defra said no final decisions had been made on the charges, aimed at boosting recycling rates in England.
The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg said sources had suggested Downing Street had "put a stop" to the idea.
She said Defra had been all set to go ahead with the announcement and had prepared the text, but it appeared there was a split between opinion in Defra and Downing Street.
Our correspondent added that a source close to Gordon Brown had said "he may dump the whole idea".
The document stated that the government was committed to changing the law to enable councils to charge people for their waste as an incentive to encourage them to recycle.
But on Wednesday Defra said there would be no announcement and that it had reached no final decisions.
A spokeswoman said: "This is a complex issue and we need to strike the right balance.
"Of course the driver is that we must reduce waste and recycle more but we have to make sure we have the right mechanisms in place to allow this to happen.
"We will bring forwards our proposals shortly."
A Downing Street spokesman would not comment on the timing of ministerial announcements.
The Conservatives say the charging scheme would lead to a huge increase in fly-tipping and backyard burning.
Shadow local government secretary Eric Pickles said: "I'm afraid this was doomed from the very beginning, so all those councils that put chips into their bins must be wondering why Mr Brown made them waste all that money."
In May the then environment secretary David Miliband announced proposals that English local authorities be allowed to bring in charges, to make householders who were not recycling pay more than those who did.
It was suggested that "green" homes could get £30 a year back from their council, while non-recyclers pay an extra £30.
The European Union Landfill Directive requires member states to cut the amount of biodegradable municipal waste being sent to landfill sites.
It requires a 25% reduction on 1995 levels by 2010, and a 65% cut by 2020.