Press Release: Cigarettes account for more than half of the litter on our streets
Minister Denis Naughten publishes the 2017 National Litter Pollution Report
June 18th 2018
Cigarette butts account for more than half the litter on our streets according to the Minister for Environment Denis Naughten who has published the 2017 National Litter Pollution Report.
The Report by the Department's Litter Monitoring Body reveals the extent, causes and composition of litter across the country.
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. [Full details of items attached]
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.
"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 on-going 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%
- 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%)
- 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/schools children (3.6%).
A more detailed analysis of the System Report data is attached at Appendix 1, together with a Note to Editors which explains key elements of the system.
National Litter Pollution Monitoring System (NLPMS)
The NLPMS measures 3 key indicators of the litter problem – the extent, main causes and main constituents of litter pollution nationwide. Measuring changes in these indicators over time enables local authorities to determine the effectiveness of their litter management strategies and ensure the optimum allocation of resources to tackle litter. Thus, the main purpose of the system is to measure trends in the key indicators, allowing progress in tackling litter pollution at local and national levels to be measured.
Extent of Litter Pollution
Under the national monitoring system, the extent and severity of litter pollution is measured by using a Litter Pollution Index (LPI), which is a scale of 1 to 5 as
- Unpolluted or litter free
- Slightly polluted
- Moderately polluted
- Significantly polluted
- Grossly polluted
Figure 2.1 Comparison of Litter Pollution Indices (LPI) 2016 – 2017
Figure 2.1 compares 2016 and 2017 litter pollution survey results. From this we can see:
• 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%
Prescribed standards for each category of LPI have been circulated to all Local Authorities to ensure a consistent approach nationwide to measuring the extent of litter pollution in the surveyed areas.
A key feature of the NLPMS is its focus on monitoring in areas that are polluted or are likely to be polluted (i.e. where potential sources of litter are located). To this end, Local Authorities determine the locations for their surveys using maps produced by specially designed Litter GIS software, as follows:
- 40% in "high risk" locations (e.g. in town or city centres) where the concentration of potential litter sources is greatest
- 40% in random potential litter generating areas - chosen by the Litter GIS software
- 20% in locations chosen by Local Authorities, based on local knowledge of litter pollution
Accordingly, the national monitoring system is biased towards measuring the nature and extent of litter pollution in those areas most likely to be littered, measuring trends in these key indicators over time. The System provides a reliable overview from which conclusions can be drawn.
Causative Factors of Litter Pollution
The main causative factors of litter pollution identified in the litter pollution surveys were:
- passing pedestrians (42.1%), constitute the greatest single causative factor of litter
- passing motorists (19.7%), decreased as a causative factor by 1.3% from 21.0% in 2016
- gathering points, places of leisure and entertainment, fly-tipping/dumping, bring banks, overflowing bins and construction sites have all increased as causative factors of litter pollution
- passing motorists, retail outlets, fast food outlets, schools/schools children, bus stops, bank ATM, and bus/train stations have all decreased as causative factors of litter pollution over the same period
Local Authorities also carried out litter quantification surveys (or item counts) to determine the composition of litter in their areas. A breakdown of the main constituents of litter pollution is highlighted in Figure 3.1 below:
Figure 3.1 Composition of Litter in 2017 Broken Down into Main Categories
From this data it can be seen that:
- cigarette-related litter, continues to constitute the highest percentage (56.3%) of litter nationally, an increase of 0.9% on 2016 figures – this is comprised mainly of cigarette ends which constitute 52.5% of all cigarette related litter items
- packaging litter at 17.6%, an increase of 3.3% on 2016 results, is the second largest component of national litter pollution recorded (i.e. takeaway, glass, metal, paper, plastic)
- food-related litter, at 9.0%, a decrease of 7.3% on 2016 results, is the third largest category of litter pollution recorded
A more detailed analysis of the litter pollution and quantification survey data is available in the 2017 NLPMS Results Report at https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/news-and-media/publications/Pages/default.aspx and www.litter.ie
NOTE TO EDITORS
- 1. Tobin Consulting Engineers were appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government as the Litter Monitoring Body (LMB) in May 1999 to develop a national litter pollution monitoring system and oversee Local Authority implementation of it. The main purpose of the monitoring system is to generate, by means of surveys, reliable data to enable each Local Authority to measure, accurately over time, changes in the extent and composition of litter pollution in its area and so provide for more effective litter management planning.
- 2. In essence, the system requires Local Authorities to:
- identify/map the potential sources of litter in their areas
- use this data to identify the locations for surveys to determine the composition and extent of litter pollution in their areas
- carry-out a further series of surveys annually thereafter, the results of which can be compared to the "benchmark" or previous years' survey results to measure progress in tackling litter, and complete the appropriate forms for the surveys and forward same to the LMB for analysis/assessment.
3. The LMB, on receipt of the survey data from local authorities:
- reports back to each Local Authority with its assessment of that authority's survey data
- collates the survey results in a national overview and presents it to the Department
4. There are two types of surveys required:
- Litter Pollution surveys to determine the extent and severity of litter pollution
- Litter Quantification surveys to identify the composition (i.e. the type and origin) of litter pollution prevailing in a particular area
5. The litter quantification surveys identify nine broad categories of litter:
- cigarette-related litter
- packaging litter (i.e. takeaway, glass, metal, paper, plastic)
- food-related litter
- paper litter (e.g. bank slips, bus tickets, newspapers, magazines etc.)
- plastic litter (i.e. non packaging litter e.g. plastic cutlery, toys etc.)
- deleterious litter (e.g. dog fouling, nappies, needles, syringes etc.)
- large litter items (e.g. household appliances, furniture, etc.);
- sweet-related litter
- miscellaneous litter (i.e. items not covered by the other categories e.g. twine, clothes, fabrics etc.)
6. The initial series of surveys allow Local Authorities to establish "benchmark" assessments of the extent and composition of litter pollution in their areas, and compare future survey results with the benchmark surveys allowing progress to be measured. In this way, analysis of survey data will enable each Local Authority to assess the effectiveness of its litter management strategies on an ongoing basis and ensure the optimum allocation of resources to tackle litter.
7. The data produced by the national system surveys allow Local Authorities to gauge:
- extent & severity of litter pollution in each Local Authority area
- types, most likely sources and causes of litter
- changes in litter levels from location to location and over time
- location of litter black spots
- impact of new anti-litter measures
8. Thus, the NLPMS is an environmental management tool that enables Local Authorities to tackle litter more effectively, by providing a framework for consistent and accurate self-assessment.