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'Massive issue at the moment': Councils ask public to bin responsibly after recent litter increase

Cork County Council said it anticipates an increase in waste from day trips and staycations this summer.

Local resident Juliana Hearty cleaning rubbish at Portobello in Dublin in April.
Local resident Juliana Hearty cleaning rubbish at Portobello in Dublin in April.
Image: Rollingnews.ie

AN INCREASED AMOUNT of litter has been spotted at public areas in recent weeks, with the improved weather and outdoor social meetings a possibility for many people. 

As a result, Dublin City Council (DCC) has called for people to “act responsibly” and either use bins to discard their litter, or bring their rubbish home if there’s no bin available.

This is a sentiment reflected by other councils, with the situation expected to continue during the summer months.

The council said Dublin is “experiencing unprecedented levels of littering”.

There are more than 3,200 bins in the city with an extra 70 barrel bins at “litter hotspots” and more bins due to be installed, DCC said. 

Barrel bins are used temporarily, usually for outdoor events. Street cleaners are working “around the clock” to deal with the increased litter, the council said. 

In Cork, the county council is similarly asking people to bin their rubbish or bring it home if they can’t dispose of it responsibly.

This is being encouraged in “anticipation of an increase in daytrips and staycations across the county this summer”, the council said. 

Cork county Mayor Mary Linehan Foley said: “When tackling the issue of litter, it is not just a case of putting out more bins and hoping that people will use them.

“We are asking people to treat their county like they would their own home. Plan your day and discuss what waste you are likely to generate.”

There are almost 1,000 bins in place across the county with most around areas like beaches and walkways. 

A statement from Galway City Council said there has been an increase in litter “associated with the gatherings of large crowds” recently.

The council said its staff “do not engage with gatherings of people in line with Health and Safety and Government advice to ensure safety of staff and to maintain social distancing”.

“Staff enter these areas once the crowds disperse and clean as required to return the city to its high standards,” the statement said. 

There are 20 large-capacity bins and more than 200 standard bins across the city.

The council added it will employ four extra temporary staff over the summer to “ensure that additional service demands are delivered efficiently” for the city’s bins.

Rubbish along the Royal Canal 

Images on social media last weekend showed large amounts of rubbish around areas like the banks of the Royal Canal in Dublin.

Cabra-Glasnevin councillor Colm O’Rourke said a lot of local residents have been in contact about the litter.

“It’s a massive issue at the moment, particularly along the Royal Canal,” he told The Journal. “This stretch is beautiful, but the litter isn’t such a pleasant site.”

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He said DCC and Waterways Ireland “need to up their game, especially for the summer months” to find a solution to the issues.

Waterways Ireland is responsible for maintaining this canal, and other navigable waterways across the country.

“With the warmer weather that we’ve seen and the lead up to the summer, it was obvious that more people would visit recreational areas such as canals, and therefore there’s going to be more litter,” O’Rourke said. 

He said additional plans should be brought in to keep public areas litter-free beyond the pandemic so that “people can continue to enjoy time with friends outdoors”. 

Senator John McGahon last Monday called for increased funding to local authorities and the Office of Public Works (OPW) to allow for volunteer community responses to help tackle growing litter problems in public areas. 

“Over the weekend, we have once again seen images of overflowing bins and our public parks covered in litter,” McGahon said in a statement, in relation to last weekend. 

“This is a growing problem that will only get worse if the theme of our summer is rightfully to be outdoors.”

Earlier this week, a number of OPW sites reopened again in line with government guidance. 

The OPW said there has been a “notable increase in littering” across the country last weekend, including at heritage sites. 

Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan, said the public need to cooperate with staff to keep parks, gardens and heritage grounds “litter-free”. 

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