Cigarette butts and chewing gum account for 70% of reported litter

Discarded butts by far the biggest source of litter in Ireland, says survey

Nearly 60 per cent of litter is related to discarded cigarette butts, according to the latest National Litter Pollution Report.

Cigarette related litter accounted for 59.8 per cent of all reported problems way ahead of the next biggest cause of litter which is food-related (12.4 per cent) and packaging litter (12 per cent).

Chewing gum is another large major contribution to litter comprising 11.24 per cent of all litter recorded in 2015.

Nevertheless, the report states that levels of litter are the lowest ever recorded.


The number of areas surveyed deemed to be litter-free increased from 12.3 per cent in 2014 to 16.4 per cent in 2015, the highest level ever achieved.

Nearly two-thirds (62.8 per cent) of all areas surveyed were slightly polluted, a decrease of 1.6 per cent on 2014 levels.

The percentage of areas deemed to be moderately polluted fell from 23.1 per cent to 19.9 per cent when compared to 2014 results for the same category.

Launching the report, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Denis Naughten noted there was still challenges remaining in disadvantaged urban areas.

"While the Litter Pollution Report demonstrates year on year that Ireland is improving its environment with respect to litter, it is imperative that people play their part in keeping their road, neighbourhood and county litter free, or reducing the litter problem where it exists," he said.

“ It is about having pride in our communities and taking personal responsibility for our actions.”

The Minister launched a nationwide schools campaign called “Bin It!” to educate and raise student awareness of littering.

Bin It! is an element of the Gum Litter Taskforce education campaign which includes outdoor poster, TV and online advertising.

The launch in Castlerea Community School, Roscommon includes plans for an actor-led workshop for secondary schools across 26 local authority areas. The workshop is geared towards first year students and explores littering and social responsibility.

This is the 10th year of the Bin it! campaign and to date almost 40,000 students have taken part, with 6,324 attending the workshop in 2015.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times