25 Jan 2022

Tullamore 'clean to European norms' but drops down IBAL league


O'Connor Square was praised by IBAL judges

TULLAMORE is “clean to European norms” but has dropped down the ranks in the latest Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) survey.

In the last survey of 2021 Tullamore ranked 20th compared to coming home in fourth position in the previous year when it was deemed “cleaner than European norms”.

The news will come as a blow to Tidy Towns volunteers and council staff who have worked hard throughout the past 12 months to maintain the town's standing in the national league.

The judges in the An Taisce run league described the result as “another strong showing by Tullamore.”

Their report identified top ranking sites including O’Connor Square / associated car parking and Lloyd Town Park.

“Both of these were exceptionally well presented and maintained,” they noted.

The judges also observed William Street “was a very freshly presented shopping street with all aspects of the area surveyed in very good order.”

But they noted that “at the other end of the scale the Bring Centre was in a very poor state and subject to significant dumping.”

“Meath Lane had a variety of miscellaneous items and is well on its way to becoming a blackspot if not addressed,” the judges warned.

The opportunity to “separate’ waste is a very welcome addition to the town, as noted at both William Street and O’Connor Square,” the report stated.

Neighbourinmg towns Athlone, Portlaoise and Mulilingar were also all deemed to be “clean to European norms” in the IBAL report.

Nationwide the study found PPE litter was found to be at its highest level since the pandemic began, 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.

2021 was the 19th year of the IBAL Anti-Litter League.

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