Irish deposit return scheme reaps early results

The first national litter survey by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) since the introduction of the government’s deposit return scheme has revealed a fall in cans and plastic bottles on Irish streets contributing to an overall improvement in litter levels. 

There was a near-30% 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 in Ireland.

“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.” 

 Overall, there was a rise in the number of sites deemed clean across the country, with a significant fall in those judged to be ‘heavily littered’. Naas (pictured) was top of the rankings of 40 towns and cities, but Dublin City Centre failed to improve and is still ‘littered’.

The study, conducted by An Taisce on behalf of IBAL, showed a healthy rise in towns reaching the upper tier of cleanliness – ‘Cleaner than European Norms’ – and a fall of 35% in the number of towns branded ‘littered’. 

“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, progress that has been hard earned in our cities.”     

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