Letterkenny has been designated as a ‘clean’ town in a new litter survey by Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL).
The town has moved up the ranks to be Ireland’s 15th cleanest town, having placed 16th in summer 2020.
The survey examines litter levels in 37 towns and cities across Ireland. Kilkenny again took top spot, ahead of Killarney and Ennis. According to the report, litter levels continue to rise nationwide, with fewer than half of the towns surveyed deemed clean.
The An Taisce report for Letterkenny stated: “It is pleasing to note how Letterkenny has established itself as a consistently clean town. Over half of the sites surveyed got the top litter grade.
“These included the residential area of Hawthorn Heights, the grounds of Church of Ireland (Conwal Parish Church) and Upper Main Street – what sets these and other top-ranking sites apart is not just the absence of litter but the overall presentation and maintenance of the environment.
“The residential area of Ard Adhamhnain and the Recycle Bank at Donegal County Council Offices both suffered from heavy accumulations of litter.”
In all, litter levels rose in 24 of the 37 towns and cities inspected by An Taisce at the end of 2020, resulting in only 17 being judged to be clean – a fall of over 25% on last summer and in sharp contrast to just 3 years ago, when 80% were clean.
Coffee cups were among the most prevalent litter types found, while there was another rise in glass bottles and cans, suggesting that outdoor drinking has not waned over the winter months. The survey also showed that the second half of 2020 brought a further increase in PPE-related litter, primarily masks.
“8 months into the pandemic, we would have hoped people would have moved to reusable masks with a resulting fall in mask-related litter. In fact, we are seeing more and more of them ending up our streets,” says IBAL spokesperson Conor Horgan.
According to IBAL, the reluctance among civic-minded people to pick up litter during the pandemic may carry long term consequences. “While people have certainly become more attuned to their natural surroundings and more conscious of how litter can spoil those surroundings, this is offset by an understandable unwillingness to pick up waste for fear of contamination. As the pandemic endures, and with it the sensitivity around touching items, people may simply get out of the habit of picking up other people’s litter. We risk losing a civic behaviour which is vital in keeping our country clean,” concludes Mr Horgan.