gull-ible | 

Anti-seagull sacks unveiled by Dublin City Council in bid to foil pesky scavengers

The super-tough sacks are impenetrable to the beaks of the gulls and will thwart foxes’ efforts to rip apart bin bags to get at food.

Derek Murphy, from the council's street cleaning services, in Clarendon Street, Dublin city centre, yesterday with one of the gull-proof refuse sacks. Photo: Frank McGrath

Seagull. Stock image


Dublin City Council (DCC) has a new weapon in its fight against seagulls: super-strong rubbish sacks that cannot be torn apart by beaks.

Under a pilot scheme businesses and residents who still leave out plastic rubbish bags on bin day will instead drop the bags inside the protective anti-seagull refuse sack first before putting their waste out for collection.

Private collection crews will then empty the rubbish bag into their trucks and return the re-useable anti-seagull sack to the client.

The super-tough sacks are impenetrable to the beaks of the gulls and will thwart foxes’ efforts to rip apart bin bags to get at food.

The council is to test anti-seagull bags in the coming weeks.

Council waste management services co-ordinator Shay Brady is more than aware of the mess the gulls cause because he has to send cleaning crews out to tidy up the debris they leave behind.

“They’re a massive nuisance when they rip open bags, and we are trying different ways to solve the problem,” he says.

“We’re working with the private waste collectors to see what works best. This bag is one idea that could be promising and we’ll see how it works on a practical level.

“There are still some details we need to work on, such as how each client gets the bag returned to them, but we’ve been very pro-active in trying to problem-solve any challenges we face on a daily basis.”

Mr Brady runs the street cleaning depot on O’Rahilly Parade for the north inner-city district. His knowledge of bins and rubbish is vast.

“There are 3,362 street litter bins in Dublin; 612 are in the central area and 74 of them are solar powered. Sixty-five of them are recycle bins where 90pc of the waste put into them is designated waste that gets recycled,” he says.

Mr Brady also knows the dimensions and capacity of the vehicles the street sweepers use and where each one can and cannot be used.

Some carts are hand-pushed, others hand-pulled. Some have to be driven around. There are manual and battery operated vehicles and diesel ones too.

Nodding over to a corner of the yard where the cleaning crews are tooling-up with brooms and gloves, or unplugging machines from their chargers in preparation for another day’s work, he singles out one such vehicle: “That one over there is used for cycle lanes separated from the road space by bollards. The others are too wide for the job.”

Of the cleaning rota, he says: “There are three shifts each day. From 6am to 2pm; 2pm to 9pm; and 10pm to 6am. There’s 37 crew members in the first two shifts, and 30 in the night shift.”

Seagull. Stock image

The O’Rahilly Parade Depot, and a similar depot on Bow Lane on the south of the city, collect more than 100 tonnes of rubbish from the bins and streets of the capital’s commercial district each week.

Ninety percent of that rubbish is waste such as paper and plastic that is recycled.

“There are six depots altogether covering the whole DCC area, but these two in the city that cover Zone A are especially busy. Each bin in the district is emptied six times a day, and a lot of people don’t know that there is a QR code on the side of the bins that people can scan with their mobile phones to report if a bin is full, damaged, or defaced,” Mr Brady says.

“The main thoroughfares are also washed twice a week at night. Most people don’t see it all happening at all.

“They are great crews, and deserve a lot of praise for what they do.”

How Dublin's O'Connell Street and Grafton Street are kept clean

And as well as the bins and streets there is also the job of looking after all the poles that hold street lights, traffic lights and signs.

These often fall victim to people who plaster them with stickers, which then make the streets unsightly.

The council has recently contracted an outside company which uses an environmentally safe solvent to remove the stickers.

As summer recedes, Mr Brady’s mind is on autumn and how to deal with all the fallen leaves due to drop shortly.

“Now that autumn is coming we’ll soon have 800 tonnes of leaves to deal with too. That gets turned into compost,” he says.

“We recycle as much of the city’s waste as we can. It’s a never-ending battle to keep the streets clean. Sometimes its like trying to brush your teeth and eat a chocolate biscuit at the same time, but we keep at it.”

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