Cigarettes account for more than half of litter in Roscommon

In Environment, News by Denis Naughten

Cigarette butts account for more than half the litter on our streets nationally and here in Roscommon, according to Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten who has published the 2017 National Litter Pollution Report.

The report by his Department’s Litter Monitoring Body reveals the extent, causes and composition of litter across the country.

“In Roscommon just under 30% of areas are litter-free which is really good news and I want to commend all those volunteers on our Tidy Towns committees across the county for their tireless work and efforts and the communities themselves. There isn’t any room for complacency for any of us as almost 70% of areas in Roscommon are categorised as ‘slightly littered’ according to the 2017 Litter Pollution Report,” stated Minister Naughten

“The main findings show that nationwide cigarette-related litter accounts for over 56% of litter in our towns and communities. This is mainly made up of cigarette ends.  The report shows an increase in the prevalence of cigarette litter on the previous year.”

At 17% packaging items such as cardboard, paper, bottles and caps, glass and cans are the second largest litter component while food-related items at 9% make up the third most common litter cause including chewing gum, and sweet-related items such as wrappers and crisp bags stand at under 8% – the fourth largest component.

The report also shows that pedestrians are the main causes of litter at 42% and passing motorists are the second largest cause accounting for 19% in 2017.

Announcing the findings Minister Naughten said: “The 2017 Report shows that the number of areas surveyed across the country deemed to be completely unpolluted from litter stands at 15.6%, the second highest level ever recorded. The results also demonstrate that over 79% of all areas surveyed in 2017 were deemed to be either litter-free or only slightly polluted so this is very welcome news. I would like to commend the Local Authorities who work closely with the communities they serve and are continuing to make progress in the ongoing battle against litter pollution across the country.  Each of us has personal responsibility and a role to play in keeping the towns, villages and cities we live in litter free. Smokers in particular can bring about a significant improvement in the litter situation through relatively minor behavioural changes. Everyone must accept that, ultimately, it is their own actions that will ensure whether or not we live in a litter-free environment.”

Minister Naughten added: “While I am pleased with some of the results, which are very encouraging, there is more work to be done to ensure that the environment is protected from litter. We need to focus our efforts to maintain the improving standards being achieved across the country. A combination of awareness, education and enforcement is required in order to successfully combat our litter challenges.”

In summary, the 2017 Litter Pollution Monitoring System Report reveals that:

  • 15.6% of areas surveyed were litter-free, the second highest level ever achieved and an increase of 2.4% when compared to 2016 results
  • 63.9% of areas surveyed were slightly littered
  • The percentage of moderately polluted areas has decreased by 0.9% to 17.1% from 18.0% in 2016
  • The percentage of significantly polluted areas has decreased by 0.3% to 3.0% when compared to 2016 data
  • The percentage of grossly polluted areas has remained constant at 0.3%

Litter Composition

  • The main constituent elements of litter pollution nationwide were cigarette-related litter (56.3%), packaging litter (17.6%), food-related litter (9.0%), and sweet-related litter (7.9%)

Causative Factors

  • The main causative factors of litter pollution nationally were identified as follows: passing pedestrians (42.1%) passing motorists (19.7%), retail outlets (10.3%), gathering points (7.0%), places of leisure/entertainment (5.3%), fast food outlets (4.1%), and schools/schoolchildren (3.6%).