Mayo’s two largest towns are now litter free according to the final 2008 survey of towns and cities in Ireland by business group Irish Business Against Litter.
Ballina and Castlebar have both finished “clean to European norms” in 31st and 29th places respectfully. Howth was deemed Ireland’s cleanest town. The study revealed that two-thirds of Ireland’s 55 largest towns are now classed as “clean to European norms”. Cobh, Tullamore, and Bray, however, are branded “seriously littered”. IBAL is calling for the Government agreement with the chewing gum industry to be replaced this year with a levy that will pave the way towards a biodegradable gum.
Ballina has maintained its “clean to European norms’’ status from the final round in 2007, finishing in 31st position in this round, and has also moved up from 37th place as “moderately littered’’ since the second round in October this year. Castlebar has also held onto its “clean to European norms’’ status from 2007, a good result for both towns.
An Taisce comment that this was a satisfactory result for Ballina but added: “The disappointing first survey pulled Ballina down the table. People sometimes forget what things were like — Ballina was judged a litter blackspot in our first survey seven years ago. The improvement since has been considerable.”
In relation to the county town An Taisce has said this is another satisfactory result for Castlebar. However, the organisation has asked why the law is not being enforced at the shopping centre and Davitt College.
IBAL continues to highlight chewing gum as a particularly obstinate and unique source of litter, given the heavy cost of removing it. “With the agreement with the gum industry up for review in the next few months, it is finally time for the Government to bite the bullet on a gum levy,” commented IBAL head Dr Tom Cavanagh. “We should ask ourselves why we even allow the marketing of a product that is destined to end up stuck to our streets, furniture, bins, school desks, and many other places. Chewing gum costs millions to remove and at the very least the industry should be made pay for that.”
Citing the example of the Government raising the tax on cars with high carbon emissions which has successfully encouraged the consumer to switch to carbon friendly models, IBAL believes a gum tax would incentivise manufacturers to introduce a biodegradable chewing gum that is kinder to the landscape.