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National Litter Pollution Monitoring Scheme

​​​​​The Litter Pollution Monitoring System provides an accurate picture of litter pollution countrywide and accurately measures changes over time.

The System was developed by the Department and Tobin Consulting Engineers in consultation with local authorities. Under the System, local authorities carry out surveys – a minimum of between some 30 and 600 surveys per annum depending on population size - to determine the extent, composition and causes of litter pollution in their areas. The data obtained from the system enables them to provide more effective litter management planning for their areas, to assess the effectiveness of their litter management strategies and to ensure the optimum allocation of its resources to tackle litter. It provides vital information to the Department on the national picture regarding litter pollution.

How it Works

The System provides answers to three key questions:

       1. How littered is the country at local and national level?
       2. What are the main constituent elements of litter pollution?
       3. What are the main causes of litter pollution?

There are two types of surveys undertaken. The first type is the Litter Pollution survey to determine the extent and severity of litter pollution. The Local Government Computer Services Board (LGCSB) developed a Litter Geographical Information System (GIS) software package to assist local authorities to map potential sources of litter and identify survey locations for their surveys. Local authorities determine the survey locations using maps produced by the GIS Software, as follows:

  • 40% "high risk" locations
  • 40% random potential litter generating areas chosen by the GIS Software
  • 20% based on local authority knowledge of litter pollution in the area.

The litter pollution survey results are expressed as a litter pollution index for the areas surveyed, ranging in value from 1 to 5, as follows:

        1. Unpolluted i.e. litter free, 
        2. Slightly polluted,
        3. Moderately polluted,
        4. Significantly polluted, and
        5. Grossly polluted i.e. level of litter expected after a major sporting or entertainment event.

The second type of survey is the Litter Quantification survey to identify the composition (i.e. the type and origin) of litter pollution prevailing in a particular area.


There have been positive changes in litter pollution levels throughout the country since 2002. The latest results (2014) are composed of data received by 57 local authorities. The 2014 Report demonstrates that the number of areas surveyed across the country deemed to be completely unpolluted stands at 12.3%, the highest level achieved since monitoring began. The number of areas surveyed deemed to be grossly polluted at 0.3%. Overall there has been a slight decrease in litter pollution from 2013 to 2014.

The main constituent elements of litter pollution nationally are:

  • Cigarette related litter - 55%
  • Chewing Gum litter - 15%
  • Packaging Litter - 12%

The main causes of litter pollution nationally are:

  • Passing pedestrians - 41%
  • Passing Motorists - 19%
  • Retail outlets - 10%
  • Places of Leisure/Entertainment – 6%
  • Gathering Points - 6%
The National Litter Pollution Monitoring System​'s Report for 2018​ is now published.

Further Information

Further details on the National Litter Pollution Monitoring System and the full results of all the National Litter Monitoring Surveys be found at the litter website . The website also serves as a useful guide and information exchange forum for local authorities