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'Really disappointing', 'it's not right': Dumping in Dublin has increased during the Covid-19 shutdown

Local authorities in the cities of Dublin, Galway, and Waterford have reported increases in illegal dumping in the past three weeks.

DUBLIN CITY COUNCILLORS have asked people to stop dumping items on the street, and instead to use some of the recycling centres that are still open, or else leave the rubbish at home until normal waste services resume.

Waterford City and County Council has seen a 20% increase in the number of complaints about illegal dumping compared to last year, while Galway City Council has also experienced a significant increase in dumped items. 

“This type of waste did not just accumulate over the lockdown period,” a tweet from the Dublin City Council account said. “It’s been building up in someone’s home over a sustained period and now they have taken this opportunity to dump it. To those who are doing this, STOP.” 

Green Party councillor Claire Byrne said that she has had “a number of representations” made to her about an increase of illegal dumping in the area, and it’s “really disappointing to see”.

She said that this is happening because more people “are doing some DIY work at home – hence the bath [in the above photo] – and more people are at home, so there’s more household waste”.

Some recycling centres had closed, the South East Inner City councillor said, but others like the Ringsend Recycling Centre were still open.

The bulk waste collection service that Dublin City Council and other local authorities offer, which collects big items like sofas for a fee, has been temporarily suspended in Dublin so that the Council can direct its resources to essential services.

Although acknowledging that the council does have a responsibility to provide essential services like waste collection, Byrne said that there was a collective responsibility in this time of crisis, too.

“Let’s not drag the city down at this terrible time. We’re putting pressure on already limited resources [by illegal dumping].”

Michael Pidgeon, a Green Party councillor who is based in the South West Inner City, said that illegal dumping is a perennial issue and “not a new problem”, but that the scale of the problem has “definitely increased” in the past three and a half weeks.

“I’ve seen Dublin City Council officials have described as a huge increase, but even just travelling around the 2km around my area in Kilmainham, or going to the shops, you can see on a lot of corners that people are dumping stuff.”

When asked if this is people who would illegally dump items anyway doing it all in one go because of the lockdown, or whether it wasn’t made clear to the public that ‘bring centres’ and recycling centres are still open, Pidgeon said that was “really tough to say”.

“I’ve noticed is that there’s a recycling centre that’s near me, for example, and seen people dumped stuff that has never been intended for that facility. It’s a bottle bank, and people are dumping large tranches of clothes and furniture outside.

He said that Dublin City bottle banks and textile depots are still running fully, but added that if people who intended to use a recycling centre but realised it wasn’t open, he doesn’t think they’d dump them on the street.

“If there isn’t a way to safely dispose of your rubbish, that doesn’t mean you just dump it in front of someone else’s house, or in a green shared space, and particularly at a time when waste services are like operating at reduced capacity.

It’s just not right. It feels like the opposite of the kind of social solidarity we should be seeing in the middle of a crisis like this.
[Don't] just dump waste on the street, even if it means that there might be a time where you have to put up with some of the stuff in your house for a bit longer until normal services resume. That is surely better than dumping stuff in parks, on corners, or in front of people’s houses.

A spokesperson for Waterford City and County Council said that “There is evidence of disposable gloves and masks being discarded on the streets instead of being placed in litter bins or the users domestic refuse.”

There has been a noticeable increase in the amount of illegal dumping and the number of complaints received has increased by 20% over the same period last year.
As waste management has been deemed by the Government to be an essential service bring banks are operating as normal as are both of our Civic Amenity Sites. Our Environmental Enforcement Team is also operational.

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A spokesperson for Galway City Council said that “dumping of waste is a blight on our environment and in recent days, we have encountered increased illegal dumping within the city boundaries”.

“This poses a threat to our water quality and public health.

“We know that some households are doing some spring cleaning, and we urge you to use the services of local authorised waste collectors who continue to provide collection and skip services, or store your old furniture and waste until this crisis is over.” 

Do not use ‘Man in the Van’ type services to dispose of your waste without checking that they have a valid Waste Collection permit. Otherwise, your old furniture may end up in a public park or beach, and you may be prosecuted.

Members of the public are asked to report illegal dumping or illegal operators in the Galway City area to environment@galwaycity.ie

Galway City Council also said they would restore the Bulky Goods Collection Service, and have a bulky goods collection day before the end of 2020 (after the restrictions are lifted), similar to 2019.

City councils in Cork and Limerick were also asked for comment.

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