The final litter survey for 2019 from business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) has shown Dublin North Inner City to be ‘seriously littered’, recording its worst scores in years, while the City Centre was deemed clean. Swords was among the cleanest of the 40 towns and cities surveyed, but Tallaght tumbled down the rankings and was rated ‘moderately littered’ while Ballymun improved but was ‘littered’. According to IBAL, there is significantly less litter on our cities’ streets compared to a decade ago.
The past decade has brought a 13% reduction in litter levels in our city centres, while litter in towns has remained constant over the same period. “We’ve seen the fruits of the greater attention given to keeping our city centres clean,” explains Conor Horgan of IBAL, “to the point where they are now almost as clean as our towns. In 2019, for the first time, all were deemed clean.” IBAL has been surveying disadvantaged city areas over the past 5 years but has seen little reduction in litter over the period. “Unfortunately, the gap in cleanliness between these neglected areas and the high-profile city centres is not closing.”
An Taisce, who conduct the surveys on behalf of IBAL, made the following comments in relation to the Tallaght areas; “After making big strides over the last number of years in the League it was disappointing to see two litter blackspots and one seriously littered site take Tallaght down the rankings. Pedestrian Access to Cheeverstown Road, from Kilmartin Drive has suffered from prolonged and serious abuse and neglect. Courthouse Square Car Park wasn’t just casually littered but a variety of items had been discarded, including pallets and bags of rubbish. However, half of the sites surveyed did get the top litter grade – some worth noting were the Tallaght Luas Stop, Tallaght Village and Sean Walsh Memorial Park.” In the survey Tallaght was classified as moderately littered.
Sweet wrappers, chewing gum and cigarette butts remain the most common forms of litter on our streets. “Perhaps no one item illustrates the link between litter and the broader environment better than the cigarette butt,” contends Conor Horgan. “Cigarette filters are essentially single-use plastic which readily winds its way into our sewers and rivers, adding to the problem of plastic pollution, which threatens to see more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050. Yet every day we see people nonchalantly flicking butts onto our pavements.” From next year, an EU directive will force tobacco manufacturers to cover the cost of cigarette butt collection and processing in an effort to drastically reduce the numbers of cigarettes disposed of in the environment. “Alongside regulation, we would like to see active recycling of butts, which would encourage their proper disposal, as once a butt is littered on the ground, it cannot be recovered.” Irish start-up NoButts.ie is turning butts into cellulose acetate for re-use in sunglasses and other products and is looking to set up supply arrangements with local authorities.
Set up in 1996, Irish Business Against Litter is an alliance of companies sharing a belief that continued economic prosperity – notably in the areas of tourism, food and direct foreign investment – is contingent on a clean, litter-free environment. As part of the IBAL Anti-Litter League, An Taisce monitors towns independently and in accordance with international grading standards.