Naas town centre
Business group IBAL (Irish Business Against Litter) has declared that Naas has been crowned Ireland’s cleanest town for 2021.
Leixlip completed an encouraging year for Kildare towns with fourth place in the ranking of 40 towns and cities.
The study found PPE litter to be at its highest level since the pandemic began.
Naas finished ahead of Portlaoise and Ennis to record its first win in the annual rankings. There was a slight fall in the number of clean towns nationwide, to 22.
The An Taisce report for Naas stated: “An excellent result for Naas. With top-ranking sites all round, the town deserves to top the IBAL league. The waterside environment at Harbour View was spotless – great to see it so well presented and maintained. There was a notable improvement at the Fairgreen recycle facility – this time around it was excellent. Poplar Square has been reconfigured to accommodate ‘outdoor dining’ and the overall presentation of same was very good.” Also praised was the shopping arcade off North Main Street.
The An Taisce report for Leixlip stated: “Another superb showing from Leixlip, which is consistently near the top of the IBAL rankings. With eight out of ten sites getting the top litter grade, a few deserve special mention. Arthur’s Way (Heritage Trail) was not only excellent with regard to litter, but the whole lay-out and maintenance impressed. The Mall, Captain’s Hill and all three approach roads were excellent. By far the most heavily littered site was the Bring Facility at Lidl.”
The report showed PPE litter at record levels, with an increase in the presence of both masks and gloves.
“It would appear that this litter is accumulating as the pandemic continues, as there remains an understandable reticence to pick up other people’s PPE,” says IBAL’s Conor Horgan.
“The disposable blue face mask has become a ubiquitous part of the landscape up and down the country. People have not moved to reusable masks and people are not taking care of their masks.”
International research has found PPE litter accounting for as much as 5% of all litter, and likely to have a devastating, lasting effect on the environment. Mask use is forecast to remain high into 2022.
There was a significant rise in other pandemic-related litter, such as coffee cups, while alcohol-related litter remained at previous levels despite hospitality reopening and the survey being conducted in winter.
IBAL has frequently criticised the failure of local authorities to clean up sites identified in its surveys as heavily littered, and this was again the case. Of 89 such sites highlighted in summer last year, only 33% had been addressed by the time of this most recent survey.
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