Wicklow town loses top 10 spot as national litter levels fall in 2022

Wicklow-Harbour

The final litter survey of 2022 by business group Irish Business Against Litter shows Wicklow town deemed ‘clean’ in 15th spot in the ranking of 40 towns and cities nationwide – down from 7th position in mid-2022. Three quarters of Ireland’s cities and towns were deemed ‘clean’ in 2022, compared to just over half in the previous year. Naas was again top of the rankings.

An Taisce conducted the survey on behalf of IBAL. Its report for Wicklow town stated:

With so many top ranking sites within Wicklow town, there are a few which deserve special mention – the large expanse of parkland at BlackCastle was not only excellent with regard to litter but a lovely space which has been very well presented and maintained; Abbey Street / Main Street was looking very well, further enhanced by ornamental trees / large planter boxes; the ‘managed Murrough Recycle Facility was spotless, a credit to the staff working there.  The one blot on the landscaped was Murrough Industrial Estate – it wasn’t just littered but subject to dumping of larger items. 

Cleanliness levels nationwide improved by 6% in 2022, with Naas pipping Kilkenny and Maynooth in the rankings. For the third year in succession, Waterford was the cleanest city, ahead of Galway. Urban areas improved by 12%, yet they continue to occupy the lower positions in the IBAL rankings.

“The results reflect a pattern of improvement since the peak of the Covid pandemic, when litter levels soared, especially in cities,” said IBAL’s Conor Horgan. “In particular we are seeing local authorities concentrate their efforts on ridding areas of heavily littered sites. We have no reason to believe this improvement will not be sustained. Cleanliness is a virtuous circle: clean streets beget clean streets, inspiring a pride and consciousness of the environment among people.”  

A strong case for Government schemes

Plastic bottle and cans continue to be a major source of litter, second only to sweet wrappers and present in one in three of the 500-plus sites surveyed. IBAL believes the findings bolster the case for a deposit return scheme, which is due to be introduced this year, and which will see consumers pay a deposit which they can reclaim on returning their containers to a retailer or other collection point. “Based on this data the scheme is sorely needed and stands to rid our streets of a significant amount of litter. The same applies to the proposed coffee cup levy,” commented Conor Horgan. While there was a fall in the prevalence of coffee cups, they were still found in 25% of sites surveyed. 

The survey showed cigarette butts remain a persistent form of litter. “We welcome the announcement that cigarette manufacturers will now be contributing to the cost of clean-up, but we really need to see preventative measures such as widespread butt disposal facilities alongside innovative packaging which can store butts,” said Conor Horgan.

The Mayor of Naas Municipal District, Cllr Evie Sammon, will be presented at noon today with the inaugural Dr Tom Cavanagh Memorial Trophy, in honour of IBAL’s founder and Chairman, who passed away in September. 2022 marked the 20th anniversary of the IBAL Anti-Litter League.

2022 IBAL ANTI-LITTER LEAGUE – FINAL STANDINGS

 AreaClassification
1NaasCleaner than European Norms
T2KilkennyCleaner than European Norms
T2MaynoothCleaner than European Norms
4CastlebarCleaner than European Norms
5EnnisCleaner than European Norms
6LetterkennyCleaner than European Norms
7CavanCleaner than European Norms
8MonaghanCleaner than European Norms
9MullingarCleaner than European Norms
T10GoreyCleaner than European Norms
T10MidletonCleaner than European Norms
12Waterford City CentreClean to European Norms
T13BallinasloeClean to European Norms
T13Dublin Airport EnvironsClean to European Norms
15WicklowClean to European Norms
16AthloneClean to European Norms
17SligoClean to European Norms
18CrumlinClean to European Norms
19Galway City CentreClean to European Norms
20PortlaoiseClean to European Norms
T21NavanClean to European Norms
T21TraleeClean to European Norms
23TipperaryClean to European Norms
24Waterford City – BallybegClean to European Norms
25CarlowClean to European Norms
26RoscommonClean to European Norms
27LongfordClean to European Norms
28KillarneyClean to European Norms
29Cork NorthsideModerately littered
30TallaghtModerately littered
31Dublin City CentreModerately littered
32DroghedaModerately littered
33Limerick City South – GalvoneModerately littered
34DundalkLittered
35Galway Inner City – BallybaneLittered
36BallymunLittered
37Limerick City CentreLittered
38Cork City CentreLittered
39Dublin North Inner CityLittered
40Mahon – Cork CitySeriously littered

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