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Rise in litter Ireland’s cleanest and dirtiest towns revealed as PPE litter scourge rises across country

Naas finished ahead of Portlaoise and Ennis to record its first win in the yearly rankings

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Naas in Co Kildare has been named Ireland’s cleanest town in a survey of 40 towns and cities.

The latest Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) survey found nationally litter rose slightly in 2020, particularly cities.

And litter from personal protective equipment (PPE) related to the pandemic, such as face masks and disposable gloves was at its highest level since the pandemic began.

Naas finished ahead of Portlaoise and Ennis to record its first win in the yearly rankings.

An Taisce, which carries out the surveys for IBAL, found every location it visited in the Kildare town to be “virtually free of litter”.

However, there was a slight drop in the number of clean towns nationwide in 2021, to 22.

Dublin’s North Inner City had improved somewhat but was still branded a litter blackspot in the IBAL litter league.

‘Fencing, old bicycles and discarded domestic items’ were among the litter in the water at the canal at Spencer Dock.

It was among the worst areas found, along with 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’.

Both Cork and Limerick city centres fell back this year, while Dublin city centre dropped into the heavily littered category.

“Frankly, there are few positives to draw from this survey when it comes to our main cities," said Conor Horgan of IBAL.

“Other than Limerick’s Galvone and Ballybeg in Waterford, the An Taisce reports make for grim reading. Covid is certainly a factor but it alone cannot explain a negative underlying trend of recent years in the cleanliness of our urban areas.”

In relation to PPE litter, Mr Horgan said: “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.

"The disposable blue face mask has become a ubiquitous part of the landscape up and down the country. People have not moved to reusable masks and people are not taking care of their masks.”

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IBAL said it is believed PPE accounts for up to 5pc of all litter, and it can have a “devastating, lasting effect on the environment”.

IBAL again criticised the failure of local authorities to clean up sites identified in its surveys as heavily littered.

It said that of 89 such sites highlighted last summer, only 33pc had been addressed by the time of this most recent survey.

“In our last study we flagged litter in our cities as having reached levels not seen in 10 years. Unfortunately, recent months have only brought further deterioration.

"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,” said Mr Horgan.

2021 IBAL league

1 Naas – Cleaner than European Norms

2 Portlaoise – Cleaner than European Norms

3 Ennis – Cleaner than European Norms

4 Leixlip - Cleaner than European Norms

5 Arklow – Cleaner than European Norms

6 Dun Laoghaire – Cleaner than European Norms

7 Fermoy – Cleaner than European Norms

8 Longford – Cleaner than European Norms

9 Kilkenny - Cleaner than European Norms

10 Buncrana – Clean to European Norms

11 Waterford City Centre – Clean to European Norms

12 Monaghan – Clean to European Norms

13 Killarney – Clean to European Norms

14 Tralee – Clean to European Norms

15 Wexford – Clean to European Norms

16 Clonmel – Clean to European Norms

17 Cavan – Clean to European Norms

18 Athlone – Clean to European Norms

19 Ballina – Clean to European Norms

20 Tullamore – Clean to European Norms

21 Sligo – Clean to European Norms

22 Mullingar – Clean to European Norms

23 Carlow – Moderately littered

24 Galway City Centre – Moderately littered

25 Tipperary – Moderately littered

26 Navan – Moderately littered

27 Tallaght – Moderately littered

28 Dundalk – Moderately littered

29 Roscommon – Littered

30 Waterford City - Ballybeg – Littered

31 Mahon - Cork City – Littered

32 Cork City Centre – Littered

33 Limerick City South - Galvone – Littered

34 Galway Inner City - Ballybane – Littered

35 Limerick City Centre - Littered

36 Ballymun – Littered

37 Cork Northside – Heavily littered

38 Dublin City Centre - Heavily littered

39 Drogheda - Heavily littered

40 Dublin North Inner City – Litter blackspot

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