Smokers need to take responsibility for their littering behaviour, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has said, as a new survey shows more than half of the litter generated last year was cigarette-related.
Commenting on the results of the nationwide littering report published today, Mr Hogan said citizens, and smokers in particular, need to make every effort to dispose of their litter correctly.
The National Litter Pollution Monitoring System Report found more than 54 per cent of litter was cigarette-related in 2013, an increase of 10 per cent since 2004.
Food-related litter accounted for more than 16 per cent, almost all of which was chewing gum, the report found. And packaging, sweet-related litter and paper litter combined made up almost 27 per cent, while dog fouling accounted for almost 2 per cent of litter in the areas surveyed.
The report also found more than 12 per cent of areas surveyed were entirely litter-free, the highest level since litter monitoring began in 2001. The percentage of slightly littered areas decreased by less than half a percentage point, to just below 63 per cent. And areas deemed significantly or grossly polluted increased slightly since 2012.
Overall, three-quarters of all areas surveyed were either litter free or slightly littered. But there was an overall deterioration in the level of litter pollution in the four Dublin local authority areas, though the percentage of grossly polluted areas declined slightly.
County council areas around the country showed an overall improvement while city councils showed deterioration.
Chewing gum litter, though, remaining the largest component in food-related litter, showed a decrease in 2013. The report attributed this to the Gum Litter Taskforce advertising campaign launched in 2012.
Plastic bag litter made up 0.14 per cent of overall litter compared with 5 per cent prior to the plastic bag tax in 2002.
Passing pedestrians remained the single greatest cause of littering, though in areas rated grossly polluted, fly tipping was the greatest cause last year.
The report is produced through the National Litter Monitoring Body with littering measured by local authorities. Some 69 of 90 local authorities took part, though figures for individual local authorities are not provided in the report.
Last year spot-check audits were carried out by the monitoring body. Some audits revealed that “a number of local authorities were not assigning the correct cleanliness rating to an area”, the report said. This included rating slightly polluted areas as litter-free and moderately polluted areas as slightly polluted. Results were adjusted following the audits.