Ennis has claimed fifth place in the latest Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) survey.

An Taisce surveyed 40 towns and cities on behalf of the organisation.

The study reveals an overall improvement in litter levels, and a decrease in cans and plastic bottles on the streets on foot of the Deposit Return Scheme.

The An Taisce report for Ennis stated: “A former IBAL winner, Ennis has regularly been a very high-ranking town over the last number of years – things were no different this time around, with no heavily littered sites.  It would seem that there is great attention to detail in general presentation and cleaning regimes throughout Ennis. Among so many top-ranking sites, a few deserve a special mention e.g. the residential area of The Hawthorns was a template for a Grade A site, while Clare Museum & Surrounds was in very good order.  Clearly a careful eye is kept on the closed down / boarded up property along Parnell Street.”

The study showed a healthy rise in towns reaching the upper tier of cleanliness – ‘Cleaner than European Norms’ – and a fall of 35 per cent in the number of towns branded ‘littered’. Naas regained the top position it lost last year, ahead of Monaghan and new entrant Blanchardstown. Ballybane in Galway slipped to bottom of the rankings.

“Our study paints a much better picture than a few years ago, with levels of cleanliness definitely rising,” says IBAL’s Conor Horgan. “Once again, no town was judged to be either a ‘litter blackspot’ or ‘heavily littered’ – that’s real progress.”

City areas fared well, with notable improvements in Limerick City, Mahon in Cork, Tallaght and North Dublin Inner City. Limerick South (Galvone) recorded its best ever result. Dublin City Centre, however, showed a fall in cleanliness on last year.

There was a near-30 per cent fall in the prevalence of can-related litter since the previous survey. While plastic bottles were also less common than in any past survey, they remain the third most prevalent form of litter on our streets.

“It’s early days and we’re still seeing too many plastic bottles on our streets, but we can expect further improvement as people become accustomed to the Deposit Return Scheme and the legacy non-returnable items are flushed out of the system. Ultimately, we should see can and plastic bottle litter disappear entirely.

“These initial results indicate that if there’s a monetary incentive to do the right thing, people will respond. The same logic applies to a coffee cup levy. Tackling specific litter types with tailored measures is the most effective way of ridding our streets of litter. We concede that it’s an inconvenience for people but that’s a price we must pay.”

Coffee cups, while down, were present in one of every five sites surveyed. Unlike in some countries, the Return Scheme does not include beer bottles, which were found in 10 per cent of sites. “Is there a good reason why we cannot go further and make these bottles returnable also?” asks Horgan.

“It is disappointing that we see no progress in the development of degradable chewing gum. Across a swathe of industries, companies are adapting their products and packaging in the interests of the environment, but there seems to be no impetus for gum manufacturers to take such a step. As a result their products lie on our streets for decades and decades.”

Cigarette butt litter remains stubbornly high, present in 31 per cent of the 500+ sites surveyed.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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