Dublin’s litter spring clean biggest yet

Ireland's largest ever anti-litter initiative was kicked off this week at Dublin Zoo by Environment Minister Batt O'Keeffe and representatives from two major retailers.

National Spring Clean 2005 is set to be the biggest yet, with over 1,000 groups across all age groups and from all around the country already registered to take part, according to Mr O’Keeffe.

“This level of participation indicates that more and more people recognise the importance of cleaning up litter and protecting the environment,” he said.

The campaign’s primary sponsors this year are Coca-Cola and Wrigley, who hope to encourage consumers to take responsibility for their own litter and to dispose of it in the appropriate way rather than throwing it on the ground.

After cigarette-related litter, chewing gum and packaging from fast food and drinks are the second highest source of litter pollution in Ireland (see related story).

Recycling company Repak are also supporting the campaign, providing coloured refuse sacks for recycling waste collected and highlighting the importance of segregating rubbish so that it can be recycled or reused.

Event chairperson Patricia Oliver said that litter continued to be a serious problem in Ireland, but that the National Spring Clean campaign was still helping to raise awareness of litter issues year on year.

“In order to seriously address our litter issues we must act responsibly,” she said. “This involves not only collecting our litter but also going one step further and recycling it. Solving Ireland’s litter problem require a mindset change among the Irish public – everyone must realise that it’s our collective responsibility to succeed.”

Mr O’Keeffe said that raising public awareness about litter was vital to solving the problem, and educating the younger generation was particularly important.

“People create litter; it is an exclusively human activity,” he pointed out. “And yet litter pollution is one of the easiest environmental problems to solve. If people took more responsibility for their actions, there simply wouldn’t be a litter problem.”

Last year, around 25% of the litter collected at the National Spring Clean was recycled, but Mr O’Keeffe said that he would strive to ensure that all recyclable waste products were disposed of properly for 2005.

By Jane Kettle

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