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Littering in Irish urban centres increased during 2021 - here are the cleanest towns and cities

PPE litter has also increased in the past year, according to the survey by a business group.

LITTER LEVELS IN Irish cities and towns have risen slightly in the past year, a survey by the group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) has indicated.

Its latest survey of 40 towns and cities – which is carried out by the environment NGO An Taisce on behalf of IBAL – showed that PPE litter was found to be at its highest level since the pandemic began, and that cities were particularly dirty.

The IBAL survey indicated an increase in both masks and gloves in cities and towns, with the IBAL’s Conor Horgan saying that the disposable blue surgical masks have become a common sight on streets up and down the country.

“It would appear that this litter is accumulating as the pandemic continues, as there remains an understandable reticence to pick up other people’s PPE,” he said.

A report published in the science publication Nature and based on crowd-sourced data uploaded to the site Litterati found that there had been an increase in PPE litter since the pandemic began – particularly masks, gloves and wipes.

All nations that legislated the use of masks saw an increase in the occurrence of mask littering, the report found, but the levels of littering different greatly among that group.

There was an 80-fold increase in mask litter between March and October 2020 to 0.8% of all litter. Gloves and wipes were at around 0.2% of litter before the pandemic and rose to around 0.4% of litter by October.

The survey also found a “significant” rise in other litter such as coffee cups, while alcohol-related litter remained at previous levels despite hospitality reopening and the survey being conducted in winter.

“Our towns are much cleaner than they were say 15 years ago, but it seems our cities have reverted to the bad old days of the noughties, with litter the norm rather than the exception,” Horgan concluded.

2021-december-indd IBAL IBAL

Dublin’s North Inner City showed some improvement but was branded a litter blackspot.

The worst areas included the Canal at Spencer Dock, with “fencing, old bicycles and discarded domestic items” among the litter in the water; Crinian Strand, where “huge swathes of all manner of litter were strewn along the pavement, along with bags of rubbish”; and Aldborough Place, where “bags of rubbish dominated”.

Naas was named Ireland’s cleanest town for 2021, while Galvone in Limerick city improved significantly, rising six places in the rankings.

The top nine places in Ireland that were deemed ‘cleaner than European norms’ are as follows, and in this order: Naas, Portlaoise, Ennis, Leixlip, Arklow, Dún Laoghaire, Fermoy, Longford, and Kilkenny.

The urban areas of Ballymun, Tallaght and Cork Northside all fell back in the rankings.

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