Survey shows no change in amount of litter on our streets

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Monday, November 11th, 2013
A survey of litter in Northern Ireland has found that 89% of streets met or exceeded acceptable standards for visible litter, the same figure as last year. Despite small fluctuations, this figure has remained at an average of around 11 over the last 5 years. The survey, conducted by TIDY Northern Ireland during the second half of 2012 also showed that 96% of streets and parks surveyed had at least some litter present. TIDY visited 1040 public places across Northern Ireland and compared what they found against the government standards for street cleaning. Main retail areas had the highest pass rate, while low obstruction residential areas were overall the cleanest land use, as they had the best average score. Rural areas and industrial or retail complexes were the most likely areas to fail. Cigarette paraphernalia was the most common litter type, as it has been every year the survey has run, being observed on 79% of transects. Confectionary (60%) and drinks related litter (48%) were again the second and third most common types. Cigarette-related litter was observed on 59% of rural and recreational areas, but 98% of main retail areas. It was also found on 91% of high density residential areas, but just 61% of low density residential areas. Every type of litter was observed less frequently in low density residential areas than in high density residential areas, underlining a large difference in the failure rate between these areas. Dog fouling was observed in 9% of places all across Northern Ireland – the figure for 2011 was 12%. The results highlight some disturbing trends in our collective cleanliness: dog fouling was observed on 18% of ‘high-obstruction housing’ areas – terraces and tightly packed housing estates – and 12% of parks and open spaces. A separate study conducted by TIDY for councils measures detritus and indicates how well and how often an area is cleaned by the council. This indicated a very high standard, with 96% of places surveyed meeting or exceeding the requirements. Commenting on the report Ian Humphreys, CEO of TIDY Northern Ireland, said “Although more can be done it is clear that councils continue to deliver excellent cleansing services. The real issue remains how we change the way people think and act in regard to litter. “In other words, how we prevent litter being dropped in the first place. Refocusing some of the huge investment put into cleaning up after people and using it for preventive measures is essential.” The survey results have been released ahead of the charity’s annual conference on 13th November, where TIDY will be discussing the options available for a nationwide anti-litter campaign. See for more details
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