Cork city centre is clean to European norms and Fermoy is cleaner than European norms, while Cork's northside is littered, Mahon is moderately littered.
That's according to the first nationwide litter survey by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) since the Covid-19 crisis.
The survey showed PPE litter to be widespread and a rise in the prevalence of cans and glass bottles, however, there was a reduction in cigarette butts.
An Taisce, who carried out the survey, deemed 23 towns to be ‘clean’, a fall of over 20% on last year.
The number of towns reaching the highest cleanliness level – Cleaner than European Norms – dropped by a quarter to 9, with Kilkenny edging out Athlone, Killarney and Portlaoise at the top of the rankings.
No area was branded a “litter blackspot”.
“The rise in litter levels this year is across the board,” says IBAL’s Conor Horgan.
“The Covid crisis has seen more dumping, more outdoor socialising, especially drinking, and PPE litter, but less cleaning by local authorities and less activity by volunteers like Tidy Towns – a perfect storm, in many ways, which has brought us to the worst position we’ve been in in over 10 years.”
PPE litter was prevalent across the country, with masks 5 times as common as gloves. “Understandably, people are reluctant to pick up these items for fear of contracting Covid, so they tend to stay on the ground. We need to see a rapid rise in the use of reusable masks,” says Conor Horgan.
Of 61 sites described as either heavily littered or blackspots in 2019, fewer than 40% were clean in this latest survey. “We’ve been saying for years that the most immediate way to improve a town or city is to focus on the bad areas – clearly this is not being done.
“The mantra ‘we’re all in this together’ extends to the proper disposal of waste, not least waste that is prone to contamination. With fewer people available or willing to pick up litter, the message has to be ‘don’t litter in the first place.’”
2020 is the 18th year of the IBAL Anti-Litter League.