Two litter blackspots in town have resulted in Dundalk slipping down the nationwide litter league rankings.
There was disappointment for Dundalk with it deemed ‘moderately littered’ by the second litter survey by Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) since the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
The town dropped to 21st place in the rankings of 37 towns and cities with the report saying that the overall position of Dundalk was brought down by two locations in the area.
The IBAL said the pandemic is a factor in the increased littering across the with restrictions in cleaning services and an increase in masks being dropped on our streets.
The An Taisce report for Dundalk stated: “While there were six top ranking sites in Dundalk, it was the presence of the two litter blackspots which very much brought down the overall ranking.
“The Recycle Centre at Tesco Extra had been subject to dumping and the roundabout and environs at Dundalk Retail Park had extraordinarily high levels of food related litter and industrial litter.
“Top-ranking sites included the IDA Industrial estate, Earl Street, An Tain Arts Centre and Market Square – the latter few sites were exceptionally freshly presented and maintained.”
Litter levels rose in 24 of the 37 towns and cities inspected by An Taisce at the end of 2020, resulting in only 17 being judged to be clean – a fall of over 25% on last summer and in sharp contrast to just three years ago, when 80% were clean.
Drogheda has slipped to 21st position in the rankings, while Navan has fallen to 34th place.
Kilkenny is the cleanest city in the country followed by Killarney, Ennis and Tullamore.
While Ballymun in Dublin is bottom of the league deemed “seriously littered” along with Dublin North Inner City.
IBAL spokesperson Conor Horgan said: “Covid is clearly a factor here, but we should never accept litter as inevitable.
“While council workers have not been on the streets as much as normal, the general public has been spending more time than ever out of doors.
“There was a sharp rise in the amounts of litter on approach roads to towns, reflecting the fact that the benign winter has seen masses of people out walking.
“Ironically, too many of them are showing a shameful disregard for the environment they are enjoying.”
Coffee cups were among the most prevalent litter types found, while there was another rise in glass bottles and cans, suggesting that outdoor drinking has not waned over the winter months, accord to the IBAL.
The survey also showed that the second half of 2020 brought a further increase in PPE-related litter, mostly masks.
“Eight months into the pandemic, we would have hoped people would have moved to reusable masks with a resulting fall in mask-related litter.
“In fact, we are seeing more and more of them ending up our streets,” said Mr Horgan.
He continued: “While people have certainly become more attuned to their natural surroundings and more conscious of how litter can spoil those surroundings, this is offset by an understandable unwillingness to pick up waste for fear of contamination.
“As the pandemic endures, and with it the sensitivity around touching items, people may simply get out of the habit of picking up other people’s litter.
“We risk losing a civic behaviour which is vital in keeping our country clean.”