The final survey of 2021 by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) shows Ennis retaining 3rd spot in the ranking of 40 towns and cities.
According to the study, nationwide litter levels have risen slightly, with cities faring particularly badly. PPE litter was found to be at its highest level since the pandemic began.
Naas finished ahead of Portlaoise and Ennis to record its first win in the annual rankings. There was a slight fall in the number of clean towns nationwide, to 22.
The An Taisce report for Ennis stated: “It is only fitting that the 2021 Tidy Town winner should score so well in the IBAL litter league. It is particularly encouraging that a site which had been seriously littered over the last number of IBAL surveys was now deemed top-ranking – Gort Road Business Park.
Tim Smythe Park has been very much deserving of a the top litter grade for the last number of years and this time around the park environment has been further enhanced by the provision of newly unveiled ‘Dressing Rooms’.
Other top ranking sites included O’Connell Street, Ennis Courthouse and Ennis Recycle Facility – the latter is a ‘managed’ facility and certainly the staff deserve special mention as it was so well maintained. This is not always the case in other ‘managed’ facilities throughout the country.”
Cork and Limerick City Centres, both littered, showed a deterioration on the previous survey, while Dublin City Centre fell to heavily littered. Galway City lost its clean status, leaving Waterford as the country’s only clean city.
The report showed PPE litter at record levels, with an increase in the presence of both masks and gloves. “It would appear that this litter is accumulating as the pandemic continues, as there remains an understandable reticence to pick up other people’s PPE,” says IBAL’s Conor Horgan.
“The disposable blue face mask has become a ubiquitous part of the landscape up and down the country. People have not moved to reusable masks and people are not taking care of their masks.” International research* has found PPE litter accounting for as much as 5% of all litter, and likely to have “a devastating, lasting effect on the environment”. Mask use is forecast to remain high into 2022.
There was a significant rise in other pandemic-related litter, such as coffee cups, while alcohol-related litter remained at previous levels despite hospitality reopening and the survey being conducted in winter.
IBAL has frequently criticised the failure of local authorities to clean up sites identified in its surveys as heavily littered, and this was again the case. Of 89 such sites highlighted in summer last year, only 33% had been addressed by the time of this most recent survey.
2021 was the 19th year of the IBAL Anti-Litter League.