09 Dec 2021

Huge improvement as Longford returns to top ten in post-lockdown IBAL litter rankings

Huge improvement as Longford returns to top ten in post-lockdown IBAL litter rankings

A spectacular aerial photo of Longford town Picture: Fiona Woods

The first post-lockdown survey by Irish Business Against Litter shows Longford reclaiming its ‘clean’ status and a top ten spot in the ranking of 40 areas nationwide.

Last January, having failed to attain clean status, there was disappointment for Longford town as it slipped to the 25th in the IBAL litter league rankings.

The An Taisce report for Longford town, a previous winner of the cleanest town accolade, stated: "A welcome bounce back for Longford after a period in the doldrums. Over half of the sites surveyed received the top litter grade and there were no seriously littered sites. All approach roads were top-ranking, as was New Street and the Bring Facility by Peplo / Dealz."

Portlaoise emerged as the cleanest town in this latest survey.

The study found no fall-off in PPE litter across the country.

The number of areas deemed clean by An Taisce, who carry out the survey on behalf of IBAL, rose from 17 to 23. In all, 68% of towns showed an improvement on last year. 

IBAL’s Conor Horgan commented: “With local authority cleaning schedules normalising again and volunteer groups re-engaged in clean-ups across the country, our towns are almost as clean as 2 years ago. This is still some way short of where they were in 2014, however.”    

By contrast, the majority of urban areas fared worse than in 2020, among them Dublin, Cork and Limerick City Centres, which were all deemed ‘littered’.

A bleak picture for cities

All but one of the bottom 10 places in the rankings were occupied by urban areas. “For cities, this survey paints a bleak picture,” comments Conor Horgan.  “Litter levels have worsened to a level we have not seen in the past ten years. Now that we have emerged from lockdown, we cannot use it as an excuse for high levels of litter.  

“As we invest in promotional drives and build city hotels in anticipation of more visitors, we need to be mindful of the littered environment we are presenting to them.”

For the first time since 2014, Dublin’s North Inner City was deemed a litter blackspot. Of the 25 sites in the area surveyed, only 2 were found to be clean, and 17 were ‘heavily littered’ or worse.

Continued Rise in Covid-related litter

The study showed a near-30% increase in the prevalence of PPE masks on our streets and an increase in alcohol-related litter such as cans and bottles. 

“The need for PPE has not abated – unfortunately we’re still using disposable masks, we’re still dropping them at an alarming rate and they are still not being picked up,“ says Conor Horgan. “We are consuming more outdoors and this is translating into more food- and drink-related litter.” Despite this, the survey showed a 20% drop in coffee cup litter. There was also a steep fall-off in cigarette butts.

IBAL was once again critical of the failure of local authorities to address sites which they have previously highlighted as heavily littered, especially in urban areas. Of the 103 such sites exposed last year, fewer than half have been cleaned up in 2021.  

2021 is the 19th year of the IBAL Anti-Litter League.

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