Kilkenny, view of the Castle, Source: Kilkenny. Photo: Jimmy joe jazz on Wikipedia, (CC BY SA-4.0 International)

Littering in Ireland on the rise due to the pandemic

Littering in Ireland on the rise due to the pandemic

This year's IBAL survey found Kilkenny to be the country’s cleanest city, with Dublin North Inner City at the opposite pole

In line with a worrisome worldwide trend caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, litter in Ireland is on the rise, a new nationwide survey has revealed. The survey by the Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) alliance of companies, now in its 18th year, shows a dramatic fall in the number of towns and cities enjoying the "clean" label.

Only 23 towns deemed to be clean

In accordance with international grading standards, An Taisce - The National Trust for Ireland, an environmentally-focused NGO which is part of the IBAL league, assessed litter levels in 40 towns and cities across the country and found 23 of them to be clean to European norms or cleaner. This represents a drop of over 20 percent on last year and the lowest level of Ireland’s litter-free environment since 2007.  

The survey found Personal Protective Equipment litter to be widespread, with a fivefold prevalence of masks over gloves.

“Understandably, people are reluctant to pick up these items for fear of contracting Covid, so they tend to stay on the ground. We need to see a rapid rise in the use of reusable masks," IBAL's Conor Horgan told public broadcaster RTÉ.

There was also an increase in the presence of cans and glass bottles. Summing it up, Hogan said: "The Covid crisis has seen more dumping, more outdoor socialising, especially drinking, and PPE litter, but less cleaning by local authorities and less activity by volunteers like Tidy Towns. It is a perfect storm, in many ways, which has brought us to the worst position we’ve been in in over 10 years.”

Of 61 sites described as either seriously littered or “litter blackspots” in 2019, fewer than 40 percent were declared clean in this latest survey. While no area was branded a "litter blackspot" this year, the North Inner City area of Dublin once again hit rock bottom, preceded by Galvone in Limerick city, which fared better last year. To be fair, Dublin's Ballymun was among the few areas to improve on 2019, and the survey lauded its Main Street as "very well presented, with a virtual absence of litter throughout".

Kilkenny leads the pack of clean cities

Kilkenny regained its position of Ireland's cleanest city, followed by Athlone, Killarney, Portlaoise and Maynooth, Ennis, Roscommon, Fermoy, and Waterford City Centre, all of which surpassed European norms. An Taisce complimented Kilkenny on "returning to a place it has been many times - the top of the IBAL table and advised that the entire area was pristine."



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