Midlands Town Loses Its Top Ten Spot In Irish Business Against Litter Survey

Portlaoise and Athlone are considered to be 'Clean to European Norms'.

The Irish Business Against Litter Award for 2022 has gone to Naas in Kildare for the second year running.

Mullingar and Portlaoise have moved up since the last league table was published, going from 16th and 26th to 9th and 20th respectively.

Meanwhile, Athlone slipped from fourth to 16th.

Portlaoise and Athlone are considered to be 'Clean to European Norms', while Mullingar is rated as 'Cleaner than European Norms'.

Kilkenny and Maynooth took second and third place respectively while Mahon in Cork was voted the most untidy of 40 surveyed.

Conor Horgan of Irish Business Against Litter says Naas has set a high standard for others to reach:

An Taisce conducted the survey on behalf of IBAL. Its report for Mullingar stated:

Another very strong result for Mullingar with eight out of the ten sites surveyed getting the top litter grade and there were no seriously littered sites. There was a notable improvement at the Canal Bank which had previous been a seriously littered site – but, clearly a careful eye is required as it could quickly deteriorate to previous status.  The Bring Facility at Blackhall Car Park was moderately littered – the level was such that if not addressed this could slide to a seriously littered site. Blackhall Car Park was very much deserving of the top litter grade, there was a complete absence of litter throughout. 

The An Taisce report for Athlone stated:

Athlone recorded fewer grade A sites than last time round in what was nonetheless a strong performance. Top-ranking sites included Arcadia Retail Park (an exceptionally clean and well-presented environment) and Athlone Civic Centre / Library (attractively presented with lovely paving, visitor information signage, bicycle parking, 1916 memorial etc.) and a couple of the approach routes.  By far the most heavily littered site was Shannon Bank Nature Trail -  (between Talbot Avenue and College Park):  some parts were fine with regard to litter but there was evidence of burnt items and dumping.  The Golden Island / Civic Amenity Recycle Centre was certainly better than in previous IBAL surveys. 

The An Taisce report for Portlaoise stated:

Portlaoise has cleaned up after a slight dip in mid-2022. Significant improvement was noted at the Entrance to the Ghost Estate beside Mountain View – this had been a heavily littered site in previous IBAL surveys.  Top ranking sites included Dunnes Stores, the Main Street and Hind’s Square – the latter is an attractively presented town centre environment which looked very well. By far the most heavily littered site in Portlaoise was a vacant site on Harpurs Lane.

Cleanliness levels nationwide improved by 6% in 2022, with Naas pipping Kilkenny and Maynooth in the rankings. For the third year in succession, Waterford was the cleanest city, ahead of Galway. Urban areas improved by 12%, yet they continue to occupy the lower positions in the IBAL rankings.

“The results reflect a pattern of improvement since the peak of the Covid pandemic, when litter levels soared, especially in cities,” said IBAL’s Conor Horgan. “In particular we are seeing local authorities concentrate their efforts on ridding areas of heavily littered sites. We have no reason to believe this improvement will not be sustained. Cleanliness is a virtuous circle: clean streets beget clean streets, inspiring a pride and consciousness of the environment among people.”  

Plastic bottle and cans continue to be a major source of litter, second only to sweet wrappers and present in one in three of the 500-plus sites surveyed. IBAL believes the findings bolster the case for a deposit return scheme, which is due to be introduced this year, and which will see consumers pay a deposit which they can reclaim on returning their containers to a retailer or other collection point. “Based on this data the scheme is sorely needed and stands to rid our streets of a significant amount of litter. The same applies to the proposed coffee cup levy,” commented Conor Horgan. While there was a fall in the prevalence of coffee cups, they were still found in 25% of sites surveyed. 

The survey showed cigarette butts remain a persistent form of litter. "We welcome the announcement that cigarette manufacturers will now be contributing to the cost of clean-up, but we really need to see preventative measures such as widespread butt disposal facilities alongside innovative packaging which can store butts," said Conor Horgan.

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