Mahon and Cork city centre amongst worst in country for littering 

Mahon and Cork city centre have been ranked as some of the worst areas in the country for littering, according to a survey of cities and towns nationwide.
Mahon and Cork city centre amongst worst in country for littering 

Mahon and Cork city centre have been ranked as some of the worst areas in the country for littering, according to a survey of cities and towns nationwide. Picture Denis Minihane.

Mahon and Cork city centre have been ranked as some of the worst areas in the country for littering, according to a survey of cities and towns nationwide.

Each year, business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) commissions An Taisce to carry out litter surveys of Ireland’s main towns and cities according to international standards, and ranks them in a league table format.

The final litter survey of 2022 by IBAL ranks Cork city centre and Mahon at 38th and 40th place respectively, out of 40 areas surveyed.

Mahon is the only area in the country which was categorised as “seriously littered”, and An Taisce’s individual report shows it was one of the few areas to deteriorate year-on-year.

As well as casual litter, dumping in Mahon was identified as a “definite issue”, with the most heavily littered areas including the Pedestrian Link to Aldi and Avenue de Rennes.

Cork city centre was also amongst the three worst areas in the national rankings for litter. 

An Taisce reported that the city centre “continues to struggle” with litter, as fewer than half of the sites surveyed were deemed clean, and many of the heavily littered sites in the city such as Kennedy Quay, Carmelite Place/Western Road, North Ring Road and Dyke Parade having been this way for some time.

However, An Taisce noted that there have been improvements in Cork city centre, with the overall presentation and maintenance of certain areas such as Patrick’s Street, Anglesea Street and Cook Street looking “very well”.

In positive news for one Cork town, Midleton was ranked in the top ten in the country for cleanliness. Seven out of ten sites surveyed in Midleton received the top litter grade, and An Taisce reported that the town is generally “very well presented and maintained”.

Cork city’s North side also showed signs of improvement, having moved to 29th position with a final grade of “moderately littered”. Last year the North side was categorised as “heavily littered” and placed 37th, below both the city centre and Mahon.

An Taisce noted “notable improvements” at several North side sites that were previously heavily littered, including Sunvalley Drive, Ballyvolane Road and Upper Fairhill, commending not just reduction of litter but improvements to overall presentation and maintenance of the areas.

IBAL’s Conor Horgan said that improvements in urban areas such as Cork city’s North side “reflect a pattern of improvement since the peak of the Covid pandemic, when litter levels soared”.

“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,” he said.

Cleanliness levels nationwide improved by 6% in 2022, with Naas coming out on top as the cleanest area in the country. For the third year in succession, Waterford was ranked as the cleanest city.

IBAL noted that plastic bottles and cans continue to be a major source of litter. The group say their study strengthens the case for the Deposit Return Scheme for containers due to be introduced later this year.

The group also highlighted that cigarette butts remain a persistent form of litter, and have called for preventative measures such as widespread butt disposal facilities, alongside more innovative packaging which could store butts.

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