Tackling litter louts requires cross-governmental action

Denis Naughten says cites difficulty in tracking people with ‘fluid’ addresses

A Dublin City Council worker on the job at Store Street. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

A Dublin City Council worker on the job at Store Street. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh


The problem of people avoiding littering penalties is part of a wider issue of people avoiding a range of fines and requires a complex response from Government, Denis Naughten TD has said.

Mr Naughten, the Minister for Climate Change and Environment, said the latest figures from 2015 show that the litter situation “is generally continuing to improve across the country, notwithstanding that some localised litter blackspots persist”.

However, he acknowledged a “difficulty” with litter louts who ignore fines or return them to the fines office marked “no contract”, “not known” or “return to sender”. He said they also do the same thing with court summonses and fines.

According to the Minister, the difficulty with the State’s various €100 million yearly anti-litter schemes was “not unique to litter offences”. Any approach to solving this “enforcement difficulty” would ultimately have to be taken on a cross-governmental basis, he said, “and should encompass a broad range of offences”.

Transient population

Mr Naughten said that “in any large metropolitan area with a dynamic and fluid property rental market and a significant proportion of the population which is transient” there are likely to be “challenges in tracing individuals in relation to a wide range of offences”.

He said the National Litter Pollution Monitoring System, funded by his department, describes areas under five categories: unpolluted, slightly polluted, moderately polluted, significantly polluted, and grossly polluted.

According to Tobin Consultants, which compiles the litter pollution report, the worst offenders for littering are pedestrians, followed by motorists who fling litter from the windows of their vehicles.

The top polluters, based on their percentage contribution to the State’s litter problem, according to Tobin Consultants were as follows (figures are percentages):
• Passing pedestrians (39.6)
• Passing motorists (19.7)
• Retail outlets (10.0)
• Gathering points (6.6)
• Places of leisure/entertainment (5.9)
• Fast food outlets (5.3)
• Schools/schoolchildren (4.3)
• Bus stops (2.5)
• Fly-tipping/dumping (2.2)
• Bring banks (1.4)
• Banks/ATMs (1.1)
• Bus/train stationa (0.7)
• Overflowing bins (0.4)
• Major entertainment events (0.4)
• Construction sites (0.2)

The data shows that cigarettes account for the highest percentage of litter, at almost 60 per cent. In comparison, food-related litter, the next highest category, is 12.4 percent. Packaging litter at 11.9 per cent is the third largest component of national litter pollution recorded.