Ballina is again Clean to European Norms according to the final litter survey of 2019 by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL ).
The north Mayo town has fallen to 16th spot in the ranking of 40 towns and cities, a drop on last summer’s best-ever 6th spot. The survey showed overall litter levels in Ireland’s towns were up on a year ago.
The An Taisce report for Ballina stated: "Despite a number of littered sites, Ballina has performed very well on its return to the League in 2019. Very good top ranking sites in Ballina included St Nicholas’ and St. Dymphna’s Schools (a very clean and well presented environment with colourful paint feature ); Mercy Park / Playground (very well presented and maintained ) and Jackie Clarke Collection – Museum ( a beautiful red brick building and grounds in excellent order ). By far the most heavily littered site surveyed in Ballina was the Recycle Facility at Dunnes Stores where it wasn’t just casually littered but dumping had occurred.“
The past decade has brought a 13 per cent reduction in litter levels in our city centres, while litter in towns has remained constant over the same period. “We’ve seen the fruits of the greater attention given to keeping our city centres clean,” explains Conor Horgan of IBAL, “to the point where they are now almost as clean as our towns. In 2019, for the first time, all were deemed clean.” IBAL has been surveying disadvantaged city areas over the past 5 years but has seen little reduction in litter over the period.
Sweet wrappers, chewing gum and cigarette butts remain the most common forms of litter on our streets. “Perhaps no one item illustrates the link between litter and the broader environment better than the cigarette butt,” contends Conor Horgan. “Cigarette filters are essentially single-use plastic which readily winds its way into our sewers and rivers, adding to the problem of plastic pollution, which threatens to see more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050. Yet every day we see people nonchalantly flicking butts onto our pavements.”
From next year, an EU directive will force tobacco manufacturers to cover the cost of cigarette butt collection and processing in an effort to drastically reduce the numbers of cigarettes disposed of in the environment. “Alongside regulation, we would like to see active recycling of butts, which would encourage their proper disposal, as once a butt is littered on the ground, it cannot be recovered.” Irish start-up NoButts.ie is turning butts into cellulose acetate for re-use in sunglasses and other products and is looking to set up supply arrangements with local authorities.