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Monday, 24th June 2024

Drogheda rises four places to 20th out of 40 towns in IBAL litter survey

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Dog poo and weeds are a serious problem on our footpaths.

The first national litter survey of 2024 carried out by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) shows that Drogheda has once again been judged to be  ‘clean to European norms’ and has risen four places to 20th out of 40 towns and cities while Dundalk, previously littered, has improved to ‘moderately littered’ in 30th place.

This is some welcome good news for Drogheda, and everyone involved such as tidy towns and residents associations are to be congratulated, but there is no roonm for complacency, we are still only half way up the league and there is plenty of room for improvement.

To put it bluntly we need to declare war on the litter bugs who seem to think it is somehow okay to leave their household rubbish in public places for the Council or Tidy Towns volunteers to pick up after them.

Then of course there are the irresponsible dog owners who couldn’t be bothered to pick up the mess after their pet shits on the street. Yes it’s disgusting picking it up and bagging it, but it is so much worse for people in wheelchairs and pushing buggies to encounter. Cigarette butts and chewing gum are also perennial problems. 

In their report for Drogheda An Taisce stated:

It is great to see continued improvement in Drogheda compared for just a few years ago. This doesn’t just happen overnight - well done to all concerned. Six out of the ten sites surveyed got the top litter grade, with just one heavily littered site. 

“It was encouraging to note improvements at the N51 Approach – this time around it was very much deserving of the top litter grade, along with Trinity Street, Marley Lane and M1 Retail Park.  By far the most heavily littered site surveyed in Drogheda was Fair Street – it was let down by significant litter levels in a series of basements. 

The study, conducted by An Taisce on behalf of IBAL, showed a healthy rise in towns reaching the upper tier of cleanliness – ‘Cleaner than European Norms’ - and a fall of 35% in the number of towns branded ‘littered’. Naas regained the top position it lost last year, ahead of Monaghan and new entrant Blanchardstown. Ballybane in Galway slipped to bottom of the rankings.

“Our study paints a much better picture than a few years ago, with levels of cleanliness definitely rising,” says IBAL’s Conor Horgan. “Once again, no town was judged to be either a ‘litter blackspot’ or ‘heavily littered’ – that’s real progress.”     

City areas fared well, with notable improvements in Limerick City, Mahon in Cork, Tallaght and North Dublin Inner City. Limerick South (Galvone) recorded its best ever result. Dublin City Centre, however, showed a fall in cleanliness on last year.

Fewer cans, plastic bottles

There was a near-30% fall in the prevalence of can-related litter since the previous survey. While plastic bottles were also less common than in any past survey, they remain the third most prevalent form of litter on our streets.

“It’s early days and we’re still seeing too many plastic bottles on our streets, but we can expect further improvement as people become accustomed to the Deposit Return Scheme and the legacy non-returnable items are flushed out of the system. Ultimately, we should see can and plastic bottle litter disappear entirely.

“These initial results indicate that if there's a monetary incentive to do the right thing, people will respond. The same logic applies to a coffee cup levy. Tackling specific litter types with tailored measures is the most effective way of ridding our streets of litter. We concede that it's an inconvenience for people but that's a price we must pay.”

Coffee cups, while down, were present in 1 of every 5 sites surveyed. Unlike in some countries, the Return Scheme does not include beer bottles, which were found in 10% of sites. “Is there a good reason why we cannot go further and make these bottles returnable also?” asks Horgan.    

“It is disappointing that we see no progress in the development of degradable chewing gum. Across a swathe of industries, companies are adapting their products and packaging in the interests of the environment, but there seems to be no impetus for gum manufacturers to take such a step. As a result their products lie on our streets for decades and decades.”

Cigarette butt litter remains stubbornly high, present in 31% of the 500+ sites surveyed.

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