Irish Business Against Litter Name Maynooth as Ireland’s Cleanest Town

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Established in 1996, Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) has been at the forefront of promoting a clean and litter-free environment, believing it to be essential for Ireland’s economic prosperity and the well-being of its citizens. The recent final litter survey of 2023, released on January 8, 2024, brings both good news and challenges to the forefront.

Maynooth Takes the Crown

The 2023 survey revealed a historic achievement – for the first time in two decades, no area in Ireland was deemed ‘seriously littered.’ Maynooth emerged as the cleanest town among 40 surveyed, surpassing Mallow and a much-improved Sligo. An Taisce, the organisation conducting the surveys on behalf of IBAL, commended Maynooth for reaching “a level of cleanliness over the course of 2023 which we have not encountered in two decades of surveying.”

Maynooth’s University campus was described as ‘spotless,’ with its Main Street achieving “an excellent result for a busy shopping environment.”

City Rankings

Waterford retained its title as the cleanest city, followed by Galway. However, Cork City Centre improved to ‘moderately littered,’ while Dublin and Limerick fell to ‘littered’ status. Dublin’s North Inner City found itself at the bottom of the table, although its ‘littered’ status marked an improvement.

IBAL’s Conor Horgan expressed disappointment in Dublin and Limerick’s results, emphasizing the importance of clean streets as a starting point for recovery in the face of various challenges.

Coffee Cup Litter Surges

A surprising and concerning revelation from the survey was the increase in coffee cup litter, nearing peak-Covid levels. Coffee cups were found at over 30% of the 500+ sites surveyed. Conor Horgan emphasized the urgent need for a coffee cup levy, citing the product’s inconsistency with the circular economy.

Despite the rise in coffee cup litter, IBAL highlighted Killarney’s success in banning single-use cups the previous year, with the move receiving little or no resistance from the community.

Deposit Return Scheme as a Game-Changer

IBAL welcomed the upcoming introduction of the Deposit Return Scheme, slated to begin next month. Drawing parallels with the successful plastic bag levy, the scheme aims to encourage consumers to return cans and plastic bottles by offering a refundable deposit. IBAL believes this scheme could significantly reduce litter, especially concerning these items.

Conor Horgan acknowledged potential inconveniences for consumers but emphasised the tangible and immediate benefits of a cleaner environment.

Rise of Disposable Vapes

The survey also highlighted a significant increase in the prevalence of disposable vapes, now found in more than 10% of surveyed sites. This underlines the emerging issue of disposable vapes as a source of litter.

Recognition and Awards

The Cathaoirleach of Clane/Maynooth Municipal District, Tim Durkin, was presented with the Dr Tom Cavanagh Memorial Trophy, recognising Maynooth’s achievement as the cleanest town. The event, held at Court House Square, Main St, Maynooth, marked the 21st anniversary of the IBAL Anti-Litter League.

While the 2023 litter survey presented positive strides, challenges such as coffee cup litter and the rise of disposable vapes remind us that the fight against litter is an ongoing effort. IBAL’s proactive stance, alongside the upcoming Deposit Return Scheme, showcases a commitment to creating a cleaner and more sustainable environment for Ireland. As we reflect on Maynooth’s success, it serves as inspiration for other towns and cities to prioritise cleanliness and contribute to Ireland’s path to recovery.

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