The annual survey of coasts and inland waterways by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) shows our most littered areas to have cleaned up over the past year.
Both Dungarvan Harbour and Tramore were found to be Clean to European norms. However, the study of 33 areas nationwide revealed the majority of beaches falling short of clean status, despite the unsettled summer meaning lower visitor numbers.
Dungarvan particularly impressed the judges and the overall impression created at Dungarvan was a very positive one and notably improved on 2022 IBAL Marine surveys.
The report stated that, “This time around it was very much deserving of the top litter grade. The paving, planted areas, seating, water fountain, lifebelts, litter bins and visitor information notices were in very good order, creating a very positive impression. Despite the presence of cigarette butt disposal units there was a definite butt presence, particularly beneath the seating - perhaps the provision of dedicated cigarette butt notices may help.
“The 'novel' plastic drinking bottles only facility was being well used. Hopefully alcohol related litter doesn't build up under the bridge as was the case in previous years. The 'Love this Place, Leave no Trace' illustration on the Big Belly bins was an attractive way of delivering this message.”
Tramore also received a very positive report, with it receiving an excellent result in 2022 which was replicated in 2023.
According to the IBAL Litter survey, “The beach, promenade, parking and immediate environs were not just excellent with regard to litter but very freshly presented and maintained e.g., paving, signage, visitor information notices, seating, planter boxes, lifebelts etc.
“The area is exceptionally well served by litter bins and associated signage, and this is certainly having the desired effect - a very clean site. The Beach Borrow Box is a lovely feature. There was minimal litter throughout, some occasional food related items, dog fouling and cigarette butts.”
Beaches, harbours, rivers and their immediate environs were monitored by An Taisce in June and July. While there was a 50% rise in clean sites overall, the survey again found our coastal areas to be more littered than our towns, which IBAL researches as part of its Anti-Litter League programme.
“Over an unsettled summer, where our beaches attracted far fewer numbers than normal, one might have expected the majority to be virtually free of litter,” says Conor Horgan of IBAL. “Unfortunately, this does not reflect the state of our coastal environment. There is much ‘long lie’ litter and waste coming in from the sea, and this is compounded by litter from those who continue to frequent our coastline despite the inclement weather.”
Despite the unsettled weather, there was little fall-off in the most prevalent types of litter on our coastline - cigarette butts, sweet wrappers, fast food wrapping and plastic bottles. Coffee cups were present in almost half of sites.
Disposable vapes were revealed as an emerging form of litter, encountered in 1 in 7 of all visits, making them significantly more common on our beaches than on our streets.
Ella Ryan, Environmental Awareness Officer with Waterford City and County Council welcomed the IBAL findings. “While this is a very positive result for both Dungarvan and Tramore, we can’t rest on our laurels. As a Local Authority, we will continue to work with the local community, volunteer groups, schools and business groups to ensure our coastal areas remain clean, welcoming and attractive places to visit.
“Waterford City is consistently ranked as Ireland’s Cleanest City and that approach to keeping our coastal areas litter-free and Clean to European norms also applies. Initiatives such as the Cigarette Ballot Bin, Bring bank Sensor bins and the Schools Local Litter Challenge, Gum Litter Challenge and the 2Go Cup initiatives are making a positive impact on our streets and on our beach areas.”
IBAL credits the Clean Coasts programme, which supports over 2,000 volunteer groups, as a major force in ridding our coasts of litter throughout the year. Its annual ‘Big Beach Clean’ takes place nationwide each September. The continued rise in volunteers, now in excess of 40,000, reflects the growing public concern around the marine environment.
“Coastal litter is unsightly and unhygienic and deters visitors to our shores. Less evident, but more disturbing, is its impact on our sea life, which in turn threatens the very sustainability of our planet,” comments Conor Horgan.