Irish litter pollution figures drop

National cleanliness rates are improving, but cigarettes are the single biggest cause of litter and litter-related pollution in Ireland, according to a report produced by the Irish Litter Monitoring Body.

Half of Ireland's litter related pollution is caused by the careless disposal of cigarettes

Half of Ireland's litter related pollution is caused by the careless disposal of cigarettes

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Mr Pat the Cope Gallagher said that the report was an invaluable source of information on littering trends, providing crucial statistical information about the nature and extent of litter pollution in Ireland.

"The guiding principle of the system is if you can measure the litter problem, then you can manage it," Minister Gallagher said. "Proof of the principle is reflected in the fact that the data for 2003 shows significant and tangible improvements over results for 2002."

The statistics from the report showed that almost 50% of the areas that were surveyed were only slightly littered - a significant improvement of 7% from the previous year. The percentage of moderately and significantly polluted areas was also down on the 2002 results.

Showing that smoking was bad for the health of the countryside as well as its inhabitants, the two biggest causes of litter and litter-related pollution were identified as cigarette products, which represented 50% of litter constituents, and chewing gum, which accounted for 28% of all litter recorded. Rubbish from food and packaging also made a major contribution to littering and polluting the land.

The report, now in its second year, was helping to identify and tackle litter problems, but Minister Gallagher said that an effort needed to be made from the inside out in order to start resolving the issue:

"Our objective is to eradicate litter pollution, and the survey shows that we are far from meeting that goal. Nevertheless, progress is being made. I therefore urge local authorities to intensify their anti-litter activities, and call on individual citizens to offer active support on a local level to tackle the litter problem."

By Jane Kettle



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