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Levy needed 'to target dumping of coffee cups on streets'

A levy should be put in place to target the dumping of coffee cups on Irish streets, according to the Irish Business Against Litter (Ibal).

The group called for the levy while announcing the results of its latest litter survey, which showed a sharp fall in litter blackspots across the country.

The survey noted that Limerick, Galway, and Dublin have greatly improved.

And while the dumping of PPE associated with the Covid-19 pandemic is decreasing, Ibal is concerned about the dumping of coffee cups.

The survey highlighted Galvone in Limerick (South) as having improved from being a “litter blackspot” to “littered”. 

Three areas of Cork city were deemed to be “littered” — the city centre, the northside, and Mahon; however, IBAL noted that Cork's northside had improved from previous leagues.

Topping the league of the surveyed 40 towns and cities was Naas, Co Kildare, ahead of Letterkenny and Cavan. 

Ennis was the only Munster area to feature in the top 10, coming in at nine; it, along with Midleton in east Cork, which ranked at 13, were deemed to be among the areas which were “cleaner than European norms”.

Two areas 'Seriously Littered'

Only two areas — Drogheda and Ballybane in Galway — were categorised as ‘Seriously littered’ in the survey, which is carried out by An Taisce on behalf of Ibal.

In relation to Ballybane Village, the survey highlighted “all manner of litter (and) a mountain of black sacks”, and cited “an incredible air of neglect” at Ballybane Industrial Estate, which was used as a dumping ground.

“We’ve been calling on local authorities to prioritise the very bad sites in a town or area and it seems this call has been heeded,” said Ibal spokesperson Conor Horgan. 

“We see the benefits especially in urban areas, where very heavy littering and dumping was at its worst.” 

It’s early days, but there are signs that the disadvantaged areas we have focussed on are finally coming good, albeit from a low base.

He welcomed the decrease in PPE litter as well as alcohol-related rubbish, but he said: “The findings bear out the need for action on coffee cups. 

“We must disincentivise the use of paper cups — even compostable or recyclable ones — as too many of them are ending up on the ground. In the light of our survey, the Government move towards a levy makes a lot of sense.” 

He concluded: “With cleaning schedules back to normal, less PPE litter, and less alcohol consumption outdoors, litter levels have fallen. 

“However, despite improvements, the centres of our main cities are still littered at a time when we are welcoming our peak tourist numbers. For a high-cost destination, higher standards are required.”