Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) visited a variety of sites across the country and concluded that, supermarket car parks and their immediate environs were twice as likely to be seriously littered as other locations.

The investigation found that standards varied dramatically even at different supermarket in the same town.

The survey said Tesco and Dunnes Stores were the worst offenders, with more ‘seriously littered’ sites than their competitors while Lidl had the most sites that were ‘clean to European norms’.

IBAL is calling on councils to get tough with enforcement, saying that it is the legal responsibility of the occupier of a property to keep the visible areas surrounding the property, including

footpaths and car parks, free of litter, irrespective of the source of that litter.

“The local authority’s job is not to clean these areas, but to ensure the job is done, by enforcing the law where necessary,” said Dr Tom Cavanagh, chairman of IBAL.

“Authorities plead that resources are scarce, but it costs little to send a fine in the post, and the monies collected are retained by those authorities. The benefit in improved cleanliness is immediate.”

“The survey exposes a crucial shortcoming in how we tackle the litter problem, local authorities are simply turning a blind eye to commercial litter offenders. They happily on occasion fine an individual for dropping a sweet wrapper.

“However, getting tough with an employer in a town, who ignores the litter laws, is quite another matter. Supermarkets, pubs and fast-food outlets will continue to blot our landscape until councillors and council staff choose to issue fines instead of mere warnings.

“All litter offenders need to be pursued, not just those who illegally dump their waste.”

Schools and train stations around the country have shown significant improvement since IBAL began its litter surveys in 2002.

Over 90% of schools, and 65% of train stations, were found to be free of litter this year, with not a single school, and just one train station, graded as ‘seriously littered’.

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie