Cigarette butts remain the most prominent form of litter on Ireland’s streets: that’s the major funding revealed in the 2017 National Litter Front, which has just been published by Environment Minister Denis Naughten. The Report by the Department’s Litter Monitoring Body reveals the extent, causes and composition of litter across the country.
However, Waterford is welcomingly not one of the worst affected areas and the Purple Flag initiative in the city, thanks to the vigilance of the local business community, is clearly having the desired impact. As we note elsewhere in this week’s edition, Monday night’s ‘RTE Investigates’ programme revealed that the level of investment in waste regulation – and enforcement – varies quite considerably depending on which county you live in. Among the 30 local authorities surveyed by RTE over a three-year period, Waterford was ranked second in terms of the most active Councils in relation to regulating and enforcing waste services as per the number of waste permits held by each Council.
During 2015 and 2016 Wicklow County Council spent €19.67 per person on waste services – €2.45 more than the national average, while conducting 6,174 non-routine inspections between 2014 and 2016 – 4.5 times the national average of 1,371.In the same period, Waterford City & County Council pent €9.07 per person on waste services – €8.15 less than the national average of €17.22 while completing 4,597 non-routine inspections between 2014 and 2016 which is more than three times the national average.In addition. Waterford has an enforcement rate of 26 which compares favourably with the national average of 5.4. While the story in Waterford city is overwhelmingly positive, anecdotal evidence would suggest that rural dumping remains a significant problem in Waterford and Kilkenny and across the wider region, primarily due to household rubbish discarded by motorists. “Each of us has personal responsibility and a role to play in keeping the towns, villages and cities we live in litter free,” said Minister Naughten. “Smokers in particular can bring about a significant improvement in the litter situation through relatively minor behavioural changes. Everyone must accept that, ultimately, it is their own actions that will ensure whether or not we live in a litter free environment.”He added: “While I am pleased with some of the results, which are very encouraging, there is more work to be done to ensure that the environment is protected from litter. We need to focus our efforts to maintain the improving standards being achieved across the country. A combination of awareness, education and enforcement is required in order to successfully combat our litter challenges.”
The 2017 Litter Pollution Monitoring System Report reveals that:
• 15.6% of areas surveyed were litter free, the second highest level ever achieved and an increase of 2.4% when compared to 2016 results while
• 63.9% of areas surveyed were slightly littered.
• The main constituent elements of litter pollution nationwide were cigarette-related litter (56.3%), packaging litter (17.6%), food-related litter (9.0%), and sweet-related litter (7.9%)
• The main causative factors of litter pollution nationally were identified as follows: passing pedestrians (42.1%) passing motorists (19.7%), retail outlets (10.3%), gathering points (7.0%), places of leisure/entertainment (5.3%), fast food outlets (4.1%), and schools/schools children (3.6%).
Education on waste/litter has clearly had a beneficial impact across all age demographs, but sadly it would appear that some will continue to illegally discard their rubbish in more isolated areas.