Wicklow town shines in 2019 litter rankings

Wicklow is among the cleanest towns in the country, according to the final litter survey of 2019 by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL). The town is in 8th position in the ranking of 40 towns and cities, an improvement on last year’s summer survey. The survey showed overall litter levels in Ireland’s towns were up on a year ago.

The An Taisce report for Wicklow stated: “Again a strong performance from Wicklow Town, with six out of the ten sites getting the top litter grade and no heavily littered sites.  The Glen Beach Cliff Walk – a wonderful cliff walk, getting plenty of use was spotless throughout.  The ‘Viewing & Picnic’ Area on Dunbur Road was in much better shape than in the previous survey.  The residential area of Marlton Court was excellent in terms of presentation, maintenance and litter.  Other top ranking sites included the Main Street and Wicklow Town Council Car Park.  Cigarette butt litter was very pronounced at South Quay and responsible for a downgrading from the top litter grade, while food-related litter was scattered along some of Dunbur Approach Road.“

Kilkenny topped the IBAL litter rankings for a record 4th time, having last won in 2014. It finished ahead of Killarney, which was 3rd in 2018, and Swords at the top of the table. In all, 21 of the 27 towns inspected were deemed clean, a great result but down on previous years. Galway edged out Waterford to claim cleanest city as it enters its year as European City of Culture. The city areas of Galvone in Limerick, Ballymun in Dublin and Cork Northside were ‘littered’, with Dublin North Inner City at the foot of the rankings.

The past decade has brought a 13% reduction in litter levels in our city centres, while litter in towns has remained constant over the same period. “We’ve seen the fruits of the greater attention given to keeping our city centres clean,” explains Conor Horgan of IBAL, “to the point where they are now almost as clean as our towns. In 2019, for the first time, all were deemed clean.” IBAL has been surveying disadvantaged city areas over the past 5 years but has seen little reduction in litter over the period.

Sweet wrappers, chewing gum and cigarette butts remain the most common forms of litter on our streets. “Perhaps no one item illustrates the link between litter and the broader environment better than the cigarette butt,” contends Conor Horgan. “Cigarette filters are essentially single-use plastic which readily winds its way into our sewers and rivers, adding to the problem of plastic pollution, which threatens to see more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050.  Yet every day we see people nonchalantly flicking butts onto our pavements.”

From next year, an EU directive will force tobacco manufacturers to cover the cost of cigarette butt collection and processing in an effort to drastically reduce the numbers of cigarettes disposed of in the environment. “Alongside regulation, we would like to see active recycling of butts, which would encourage their proper disposal, as once a butt is littered on the ground, it cannot be recovered.” Irish start-up NoButts.ie is turning butts into cellulose acetate for re-use in sunglasses and other products and is looking to set up supply arrangements with local authorities.     

IBAL is offering to facilitate the setting up of a pilot programme to recycle butts in Kilkenny, as winner of the League. In addition, a number of trees will be planted courtesy of The Tree Centre in Fermoy.

2019 was the 17th year of the IBAL Anti-Litter League.


1KilkennyCleaner than European Norms
2KillarneyCleaner than European Norms
3SwordsCleaner than European Norms
4NewbridgeCleaner than European Norms
5LeixlipCleaner than European Norms
6TraleeCleaner than European Norms
7PortlaoiseCleaner than European Norms
T8EnnisCleaner than European Norms
T8WicklowCleaner than European Norms
10Galway City CentreCleaner than European Norms
11Waterford City CentreCleaner than European Norms
T12FermoyCleaner than European Norms
T12AthloneCleaner than European Norms
14SligoClean to European Norms
15MidletonClean to European Norms
16BallinaClean to European Norms
17NavanClean to European Norms
18LetterkennyClean to European Norms
19Dublin Airport EnvironsClean to European Norms
20Cork City CentreClean to European Norms
21RoscommonClean to European Norms
22Dun LaoghaireClean to European Norms
23Dublin City CentreClean to European Norms
24Limerick City CentreClean to European Norms
25CavanClean to European Norms
26BallinasloeClean to European Norms
27MonaghanClean to European Norms
28Galway Inner City – BallybaneModerately littered
29Tipperary townModerately littered
30GoreyModerately littered
31DroghedaModerately littered
32CarlowModerately littered
33Waterford City – BallybegModerately littered
34LongfordModerately littered
35TallaghtModerately littered
36Cork City – MahonModerately littered
37Limerick City South – GalvoneLittered
39Cork NorthsideLittered
40Dublin North Inner CitySeriously littered

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