As Athlone strives to attain future city status, further positive news originated this week, the latest Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL ) survey noting that the evolving town continues to boast a ‘Clean to European norms’ status.
The revealed results complements recent developments within the town, most notably the realisation of university status for Athlone upon the unveiling of TUS:Midlands Midwest and the turning of the sod to signify the imminent start of construction on the cycleway bridge to cross the River Shannon in the heart of the town.
The first post-lockdown survey conducted by IBAL noted that a ‘very good result’ was achieved by Athlone with specific areas of the town praised for their cleanliness.
The An Taisce report for Athlone stated that over half of the sites surveyed received the top litter grade with just one seriously littered site.
‘A very good result for Athlone with over the half of the sites surveyed getting the top litter grade and just one seriously littered site.
‘The town centre sites were the ones which tended to get the top litter grade, namely Athlone Castle, the car park at Golden Island Shopping Centre, Sean Costello Street, Dublin Gate Street, Church Street and the Riverwalk from Athlone Castle to the White Bridge. In many instances the overall environment was enhanced by seating, planting and good visitor information notices.’
There was one negative aspect to the revealed results, the Athlone Municipal Recycle Facility was a source of heavy accumulations of a wide variety of litter at the base of the shrubbery around the perimeter.
“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 two years ago. However, this is still some way short of where they were in 2014,” IBAL’s Conor Horgan, commented.
Continued Rise in Covid-19 related litter
The study showed a near 30 percent increase in the prevalence of PPE masks on 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.
“We are consuming more outdoors and this is translating into more food and drink-related litter.
“Despite this, the survey showed a 20 percent drop in coffee cup litter. There was also a steep fall-off in cigarette butts,” Mr Horgan asserted.
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.