PURE winning the war against waste crime

In 2021 the Pure Project removed over 800 individual dumping sites, with the collection of over 144,000kg (144 tonnes) of illegally dumped waste from the remote, beautiful, and scenic Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.

The Pure Project has made huge progress in reducing illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.  If you compare the amount of dumping collected by Pure in 2021, which was 144 tonnes of waste, to 2008 which was their busiest year, when they removed 440 tonnes, the project has seen a 67% reduction in illegal dumping in Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.  However, the project has stressed the importance of not becoming complacent, which they believe would lead to an increase of dumping in the uplands.

The Pure Truck is on the road every day, and since the project was established, Pure has collected over 3,690,000kg (3,690 tonnes) of rubbish from over 13,200 illegal dumping sites in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands with the project processing over 14,500 reports.  If you were to put all the rubbish that Pure has removed from the uplands into standard household rubbish bags, they would fill over 400,000 bags.   If you lined up all these bags on the road, they would stretch all the way from Dublin to Dingle.  

Ian Davis, Pure Manager, commented,

‘Illegal dumping is not unique to the Wicklow/Dublin uplands, however, while most regions in Ireland are currently reporting an increase in illegal dumping, the Pure Project is seeing a decrease.  We’re the first project of its kind in Ireland and the success of Pure is based on a multi-stakeholder approach, with a strong emphasis on collaboration and cooperation between all of the organisations involved in the project.  However, it is extremely important that we do not become complacent, because if we do, it won’t take long before illegal dumping will be on the increase.’

The environmental project has been recording and mapping every location and incident of illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands since 2007 and have built up a base-line-data of all illegal dumping activity in this region, the location of dumping, type of dumping, landowner, and amount of dumping, and for a number of years now they have been recording an annual reduction. The data that Pure collect is valuable information providing indicators into the nature and extent of illegal dumping in Wicklow/Dublin Uplands, and statistical evidence for all illegal dumping incidents in this region.

Pure utilises a multi-disciplined approach in combating illegal dumping, incorporating a number of educational initiatives, environment/community projects – The Pure Mile, public awareness campaigns, regional/national media campaigns, enforcement and preventative measures, GPS/GIS data-base to record all illegal dumping sites, covert CCTV operations, and a dedicated vehicle – The Pure Truck, that removes all illegal dumping from the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands. 

The Pure Project Partnership approach, incorporating statutory, non-statutory organisations, and members of the public, has proven extremely successful in combating illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands and over the past five years they have recorded an annual reduction in illegal dumping activity.  This reduction in dumping coincides with the huge increase of Pure Mile groups and areas, with hundreds of miles of roads, mountains, woodlands, valleys, forestries, upland amenities, car parks, and beaches, currently being adopted.

The Pure Mile Project is an environmental, community, heritage initiative, that encourages communities and groups living in rural areas of Wicklow, South Dublin, and Dun-Laoghaire, to adopt a mile of road, or miles of road, in their local area, or in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands and organise litter picks, clean-ups, anti-dumping campaigns, research information about their local wildflowers, plants, trees, animals, and the built, cultural, and social heritage of an area.  Thousands of Pure Mile volunteers, ranging from individuals, family groups, community groups, walking groups, cycling groups, running groups, scouts, beavers, businesses, and organisations, removed hundreds of tonnes of illegally dumped waste and thousands of bags of litter and rubbish from the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.  Pure provide all groups with Pure Mile signage, Pure Mile bags, gloves, litter pickers and Pure Mile high-vis vests, and they also remove all of the rubbish collected by the groups.  In 2021, Pure Mile groups organised clean ups and litter picks of the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands, which resulted in a visible decrease of litter and rubbish in upland areas.  These clean-up events carried out by Pure Mile Groups resulted in the removal of over 4,000 bags of litter and rubbish, and it further demonstrates the necessity and importance of The Pure Mile Project, and the need for continued collaboration and engagement to protect the Wicklow/Dublin upland environment.  

2021 also saw a large increase of visitors to the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands, with day-trippers attracted to remote, secluded, scenic, mountainous, and woodland areas.  Unfortunately, abandoned campaign sites were prevalent and the material removed by Pure, included, hundreds of tents, sleeping bags, blankets, chairs, tables, food items, bottles, cans, and barbeques, all discarded on the landscape.  In an attempt to tackle the issue of abandoned camping sites, Pure collaborated with a number of agencies with each stakeholder providing resources to alleviate the problem, including, Pure Mile Groups, Wicklow County Council, Coillte and An Garda Siochana, which resulted in a decrease of abandoned material left on the landscape in the Garden County.  

Another initiative attributed to the decline in illegal dumping is the success of the Pure Covert CCTV Operations, which involved the deployment and installation of a number of covert CCTV units at several problematic upland dumping sites which were continually affected by illegal dumping.  A 2021 successful court conviction of an illegal dumper caught on covert CCTV in county Wicklow was a joint collaboration involving Pure, Wicklow County Council, Coillte, and the Gardai, demonstrating the success of the multi-stakeholder approach in tackling illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.  The individual was fined €4,000 and costs of €550 with a two-year driving disqualification.  All of the local authorities involved in Pure are continually investigating illegal dumping incidents and the conviction sends out a clear message to all dumpers, illegal dumping will not be tolerated in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands.

Pure would also like to remind the public of the change to its lo-call number to report illegal dumping in Wicklow/Dublin Uplands and all reports can be made to 1800 365 123.

Pure is the first project of its kind in Ireland incorporating statutory and non-statutory organisations and stakeholders, including, The Department of Environment, Climate, and Communications, Wicklow County Council, South Dublin County Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Coillte, National Parks & Wildlife Service, and the Wicklow Uplands Council.  This unique partnership project was established to combat illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands and was officially launched in September 2006.

Pure would also like to inform the public that the lo-call phone number for reporting illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands has changed from 1850 365 121 to 1800 365 123.  


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