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Environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has today launched a Plastic Free Events Guide. The manual aims to support positive change and build momentum to tackle the plastic problem here in Northern Ireland.

Funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the guide provides wide-ranging actions that go beyond decreasing individual plastic consumption and focuses on how events, regardless of their size, can implement practical achievable measures for long-term change.

The guide is geared towards encouraging local businesses, councils, clubs, and all events organisers to reduce their dependence on single-use plastics, highlighting reusable alternatives that minimise unnecessary waste and pollution.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollution Solutions Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful comments, “Our aim is to increase awareness of the issues surrounding the use of plastics and in particular single-use plastics, which are typically thrown away after just one use. We want to motivate action to reduce consumption and get people to reuse and recycle. So, if you are an event organiser or venue, this guide is most certainly for you.”

The electronic booklet ensures that with some creative planning and practical steps, groups can work together on a journey to reduce their plastic footprint and create low – or zero – plastic events. It comes complete with 10 simple steps that organisations can follow along with two inspirational case studies from right here in Northern Ireland.

Chris continues, “Changes don’t have to cost a lot; in fact, by cutting down on some plastic-riddled giveaways, you would actually be saving money. But most importantly, by cutting down on single-use plastic, you are working towards repairing our environment and protecting our future.”

The Plastic Free Event Guide is available to download from www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org/businesses-tackling-plastic

Welcoming the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme

David McCann   Fri 27 Jan 2023

The recent announcement of Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is welcome news, and will have a positive environmental impact for Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s Deposit Return Scheme, announced by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and set to be introduced in 2025, will incentivise correct disposal of single-use drinks containers through a small, refundable deposit. Materials captured in the NI scheme will be single-use drinks containers made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, steel, and aluminium.

The need for such a scheme is clear. During Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s 2021/22 Cleaner Neighbourhoods Survey, 50% of transects (streets, roads and reactional spaces) were recorded as having some form of drinking litter present. This ranged from plastic bottles and metal cans to caps/lids and straws.

The 2019 Litter Composition Analysis revealed that, at any one time, there are potentially 114,368 plastic bottles on our streets, and 158,556 drinks cans (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). This is despite spending tens of millions of pounds on street cleansing.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has consistently advocated for a Deposit Return Scheme, most recently in our No More Time to Waste policy document published earlier this month. This is because Deposit Return Schemes have the potential to increase recycling rates, reduce carbon emissions and reduce litter. The scheme should also greatly reduce the number of plastic items reaching our seas, therefore helping Northern Ireland play its part in tackling marine plastic pollution.

We note that there are differences between the DRS schemes being introduced across the UK. Scotland will launch a DRS in August 2023, while those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland won’t be introduced until 2025. Another point of difference is that the schemes in Scotland and Wales will include glass containers, while those in NI and England will not.

While we would welcome a universal ‘all-in’ Deposit Return Scheme, introduced across the whole of the UK, and preferably also Ireland, at the same time, and accepting the same material types, the scheme outlined will nonetheless have a positive impact for Northern Ireland. We would like to see glass considered for inclusion at a future date and will be calling for any scheme implemented in NI to allow for this expansion in future, thus removing another dangerous and often littered product from our environment.

Our CEO, Dr Ian Humphreys said, “While it would be great to see a consistent DRS scheme being introduced across the UK and Ireland, this remains good news for Northern Ireland. By adopting new progressive policies such as a Deposit Return Scheme we can positively change the way key sectors operate. In the past, we have seen new policies such as the Carrier Bag Levy achieve a great deal and this has now become just a normal part of our retail experience.”

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is launching our policy for Single Use Plastics and Textiles. This document outlines the politics and future direction that we need to take in Northern Ireland. As a public representative, we want all levels of our government to pursue the sensible and deliverable policies outlined in it.

The aim of this policy brief is to support you in your work of changing Northern Ireland for the better.

We really have no more time to waste.

Read our policy in full.

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Maximum Littering and Dog Fouling Fines Spike to £200

David McCann   Thu 22 Dec 2022

Littering and dog fouling fixed penalty notices are set to increase across Northern Ireland under new regulations introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Taking effect from 30 December 2022, the maximum penalties for offenders will rise to £200, more than double the existing fine of £80 for both pollution issues.

Dave Foster, Director of DAERA’s Natural Environment Policy Division commented; “In Northern Ireland we are very fortunate to have some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world. However, the scourge of litter is harming our precious environment and dog fouling is something most of us will have seen far too often in our local areas.

“This new measure to increase the maximum fixed penalty for littering and dog fouling offences from £80 to £200 will help us achieve our draft Environment Strategy goal to create cleaner communities with less litter by 2030. We all have our part to play and I would like to thank everyone who has removed litter from our environment and would encourage everyone not to litter.”

Welcoming the increased penalties, Dr Ian Humphreys, CEO of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said, “In times when the cost of living is going through the roof this is one unwanted cost we will all want to avoid. Putting litter in the bin is simple and can now save you a hefty fine and a possible criminal record.”

The increase fines deliver on a target set out in the DAERA-led draft Environment Strategy that aims to create cleaner communities with less litter by 2030. The strategy also aspires to bring about a societal behavioural shift, including making littering socially unacceptable by 2035.

In their Cleaner Neighbourhood Reports 2021/22, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful reported that 2,052 fixed penalty notices were handed out by local councils for littering behaviour in the years 2019/2020. A further 279 fines were issued for dog fouling. The charity estimates that a total of £31,390,472 was spent on street cleaning across Northern Ireland in the same period.

Outside of the cost to the public purse, the dual problems pose significant threats to human and animal health, with dog fouling potentially leading to toxocariasis or blindness, while plastic littering risks ingestion from wildlife that can work its way up the food chain.

One of the businesses Tackling Plastic in N. Ireland is the Ionad Fíona Wine Centre (www.AbsoluteOrganicWine.com ) in Draperstown. Established in 1984 the company began specialising in organic and vegan wine in 2009 for those also on a journey of sustainability and accountability.

The Ionad Fíona Wine Centre is certainly doing its bit as it tries to make the business more environmentally friendly by removing single use plastic from deliveries and balancing its carbon footprint by planting trees and re-wilding land on their estate.

The team Eugene McKenna and Brigid McKenna Moore, from the Wine Centre are both wine and environmental enthusiasts as Eugene explains, “Our mission is to provide responsible quality products so removing single use plastics from our deliveries was a deliberate and conscious decision. We want to encourage consumers to reflect on the journey, delivery and origin of products as we believe that every business and person can make a difference when it comes to being environmentally responsible”.

Eugene continues, “We are trying to engage with organisations like Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful so that we can communicate our mission with authority and integrity. We are mostly an online delivery company but we have already completed our Carbon Literacy Training and are now tackling single use plastic throughout the business.”

Future plans

Next year they are planning the first Organic and Vegan Wine Festival for November 2023. Brigid explains, “We are passionate about the mission of vegan wines and food- we would like to help enlighten people and provide products that take care of the environment and preserves it for future generations. We are proud to be a wine company that focuses on organic, biodynamic, vegan wine, we will always try to keep things real. Our philosophy is to provide all our products and services in a sustainable manner”.

If you would like to get involved in Tackling Plastic in your business please get in touch info@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.com

#TacklingPlasticNI #PlasticFree #CarbonLiterate #EUWWR22

Environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has released its annual Cleaner Neighbourhoods report, which reveals a snapshot of the local environmental quality of all eleven council areas across Northern Ireland. While the overall picture of the streets has slightly improved after a worrying spike during the lockdowns of 2020, drinks packaging, including plastic bottles and disposable coffee cups, continues to be a major problem, with rural roads being disproportionately affected.

The report also recommends the use of nudge behaviour from councils to encourage the public to use bins where available. The number of areas surveyed that failed to meet acceptable standards of cleanliness is revealed within the report, down 3% from last year’s results with 15% of the areas surveyed now below standard. Dog fouling has also returned to pre-pandemic levels, following a dramatic increase in 2020, with instances of dog fouling recorded down 7% from last year to 6%.

Commenting on the report, Charmaine Beer from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said, “Whilst payments for ground litter by producers of packaging are not currently planned for Northern Ireland, they will pay costs for the management of packaging in street bins and will also pay for prevention activity for littered packaging such as communication campaigns targeting litterers. Under the new Extended Producer Responsibility scheme payments will be made by packaging producers to NI councils for management of household packaging waste from 2024, which will amount to £35million per year in NI. There will be clearer binary labelling on all packaging from 2026 to help consumers recycle correctly and plastic flexibles and film will have household collection for recycling from 2027. All of these will provide a great incentive to do the right thing.”

The findings from this year’s survey took a close analysis of litter related to food packaging, particularly drinks, with plastic bottle, hot drinks cups, lids and straws found in 50% of the areas surveyed. Most surprisingly, 90% of rural roads featured littered drinks packaging and cigarette butts remained the top item of litter found in NI, with 65% of all areas surveyed having so form of cigarette litter present.

Dr Ian Humphreys, CEO of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said, “With the environment once again on the top of the agenda as COP27 is underway, we are reminded that action is required globally and here in Northern Ireland.

“The amount of litter we are now having to deal with is extremely concerning – it’s not only unsightly but it has a real impact on council budgets, wasting money that could be spent on other public services and helping deal with the cost-of-living crisis. There’s no evidence to suggest that human nature has fundamentally changed over the past number of decades, but what has changed is the amount of plastic packaging being produced, which grown exponentially over the past 15 years, which is why it’s misleading to lay the problem entirely at the feet of the public. We need to have an honest conversation about this issue and that is why manufacturers and retailers need to step up and take their share of the cost of cleaning up the mess on our streets.”

Although the report reflects the army of litter-picking volunteers across Northern Ireland doing their best to keep our streets free from litter and a safe place for the public to come together, Charity CEO says more needs to be done to try and stop litter at the source.

Ian added, “We are very disappointed in the recent announcement that litter will not be retained in UK wide Extended Producer Responsibility legislation. This means the loss of millions of pounds annually which would have funded clean-up operations and alleviated the pressure on ratepayers. We believe this is a missed opportunity to ensure that packaging producers take on their share of the responsibility for this societal problem.”

For more information and to read the full Cleaner Neighbourhoods report visit: Cleaner Neighbourhoods Report (keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org)

Statement on COP27

Christopher Walsh   Tue 01 Nov 2022

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful supports the principle of COP. We want to see rapid global action to tackle the climate emergency, and believe that through a mix of legislation compelling new innovative approaches and behaviour change, we can make meaningful progress. It is, therefore, essential that governments and relevant sectors meet under one roof to understand and discuss the challenges of the crisis.

At a local level, we also want to see maximum engagement from Northern Ireland at COP27, so that we can play our necessary part. Specifically, we need to progress the plans to make the Climate Change Act a reality, and this will require bringing forward the Environment Strategy. The climate emergency must be a top priority for a new Executive.

We strongly embrace the theme of this year’s conference, which emphasises collective and urgent action. Hope exists and is possible, but global action must empathically deliver on the targets set for our climate, nature and environment.

A world-class leadership programme designed to unearth, inspire, and equip 30 ‘exceptional potential leaders’ under the age of 30 has been launched in Northern Ireland for the first time by environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, and will be delivered in partnership with the North American Association for Environmental Education and Podiem. Financial support for the programme has been provided by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Pacem, Pinsent Masons and Danske Bank.

‘30 Under 30’ (30U30) will offer successful applicants the opportunity to attend a series of six prestigious, half-day workshops delivered by internationally renowned thinkers and leaders. The focus will be on inspiring and enabling participants to develop their skills, confidence and leadership potential in the company of a supportive and environmentally focused peer group. At the end of the programme, the top five class members will receive a bursary to pursue their own transformational project and one class member will receive a scholarship to attend the North American AEE Conference later in 2023.

Edwin Poots MLA, Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said of the new programme:

“Talented young people from Northern Ireland have, for many years, benefitted from international development opportunities such as the Washington Ireland Programme and others, and have gone on to inspiring leadership roles in many different spheres. The 30 Under 30 programme is very much the environmental equivalent of these prestigious initiatives and will give young people with a passion for the environment the chance to learn, to connect with others and ultimately to shine. And they will be able to avail of this opportunity and international connections from right here in Belfast. My department is very proud to support Northern Ireland’s inaugural 30U30 class and looks forward to proudly observing the future success of these young environmental champions.”

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s Chief Executive, Dr Ian Humphreys said:

“I have for several years found inspiration in the North American Association for Environmental Education’s 30 Under 30 programme and have dreamt of bringing it to Northern Ireland, where I know we have such a wealth of young talent. I’ve watched young leaders like Emer Rafferty and Rosalind Skillen come through our Eco-Schools and Young Reporters for the Environment programme, then the international 30 Under 30 programme, to a point where they are now regularly speaking up for Northern Ireland’s young people on the world stage at international events like COP. I look forward to seeing more young environmental leaders forging ahead in other spheres of our society, in business, in agriculture, in science and in politics; and I very much see this new Northern Ireland chapter of 30U30 as a way of enabling that to happen.”

Kevin Kelly, Founder and Director of Podiem said:

“Over the next 6 months the 30U30 participants will hear from some of the most inspirational thought-leaders in Europe and will return to their sectors and fields of interest with the leadership tools to drive positive climate action. We are delighted to be working with a premium group of partners on a programme which marks the next phase in our Sustain Exchange ecosystem which consists of a proactive community of planet-conscious leaders and organisations”.

To apply to the 30U30 programme, young people between the ages of 16 and 30 are invited to complete a 20 minute form and short video application at www.sustain-exchange.com/30-under-30. The closing date is Sunday 23rd October at 11.59pm. Successful applicants will be required to be available for programme workshops on six dates (Thursdays and Fridays in Belfast) between 27 October to 24 March 2023.

In addition, the first 40 applicants to the programme will secure a complimentary place at the Sustain Exchange Summit at Titanic Belfast on 27 October, featuring an influential line up of speakers.


Notes to Editors

Photo captions: Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA launches 30 Under 30 at Titanic Belfast with representatives from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Podiem, Danske Bank, Pacem and Pinsent Masons

Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA launches 30 Under 30 at Titanic Belfast with (left to right) Elizabeth Crossan, Pacem, Richard Murphy, Pinsent Masons and Chris Martin, Danske Bank

For more information on 30 Under 30, please contact Chris Walsh, Communications Coordinator, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

christopher.walsh@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org / 07469 671432

Environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has released its latest Marine Litter Report, which reveals more than double the amount of litter on Northern Ireland’s beaches from the same period last year.

The 2021 Marine Litter Report (reports are published retrospectively) shows that, on average, 762 items of litter were found per 100 metres of beach surveyed; up from 375 items the previous year. A total of 36,587 items of litter were found throughout the survey period on Northern Ireland’s twelve survey beaches.

The surveys in Northern Ireland are funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the data collected is fed into the International OSPAR Commission database to help in developing a global scientific understanding of this significant problem and to inform actions to address the issue.

Community-based campaign, Live Here Love Here is supporting communities across Northern Ireland to pitch in and help tackle the issue at local level and has issued a final call to apply for its Marine Litter Capital Grants Scheme. Funded by DAERA, applications are open to organisations and groups from across Northern Ireland until 16 September 2022.

Now in its second year, the scheme is making £198,000 available for ideas that help to prevent litter from entering Northern Ireland’s waterways, including lakes, coastlines and riverbanks.

The Marine Litter Report once again names and shames the worst culprits in terms of the type of materials found at the beach. Of the top ten most recorded items, five were made of plastic and polystyrene, many of which were broken down into small pieces. 81% of all litter recorded was plastic, which commonly includes drinks and fast food or snack packaging and lids.

Other commonly found items included discarded PPE as well as short pieces of string, cord and rope, and heavy-duty gloves, which saw a resurgence during the survey period, despite having decreased steadily in previous years.

Commenting on the Marine Litter Report, Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA said, “Naturally, I am disappointed that the levels of litter recorded on our beautiful coastline increased during 2021. It is especially disappointing considering the downward trend which started back in 2018.

I remain optimistic, however, that the coordinated approach my Department has adopted, including forthcoming legislation to increase the maximum fixed penalty available to councils for litter offences to £200, will ultimately be successful and the blight of plastic pollution will one day be a thing of the past.

I am proud that my Department has sponsored initiatives such as the Marine Litter Capital Grants scheme which is managed by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. The scheme funded a range of novel and interesting projects during 2021. The 2022 scheme is now open for applications and I would encourage everyone to get involved.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has removed litter from our environment and would encourage everyone not to litter; please leave no trace.”

Helen Tomb, from Live Here Love Here partnership, which is managed by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, and which administers the marine litter grants, added:

“Marine litter, particularly plastics, has an incredibly negative effect on animals and eventually on humans, as it proceeds up the food chain. We are proud to deliver the Marine Litter Capital Grants scheme for a second consecutive year. Funded by DAERA, it was extremely successful last year with a real mix of practical and creative entries. The overall aim is to prevent litter from reaching the marine environment, and as 80 per cent of marine litter comes from land-based activities, grants are available for projects right across Northern Ireland. The deadline for applications is fast approaching, so we would strongly encourage those eligible to apply and help us to make Northern Ireland cleaner, greener and safer.”

Read the full Marine Litter Report at www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org/marinelitter. More information on the Marine Litter Capital Grants is available at www.liveherelovehere.org/marinelittergrants.


For more information and interview requests please contact Navigator Blue:

Annette McCormick


075 6387 4593

Translink Targets Plastic Pollution At Belfast Station

Christopher Walsh   Mon 15 Aug 2022

NI’s biggest transport provider Translink has continued its effort to tackle plastic waste and climate change with the introduction of a specially designed recycling bin at its Lanyon Place Train Station in Belfast. Launched in partnership with environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, the ‘Single-Use Plastic Bottle Bin’ will both remove plastic bottles from the general waste stream and grow awareness for Translink commuters on the threat of plastic pollution.

Linking into Translink’s Climate Positive Strategy, the 6ft tall, purpose-made receptacle has been created by local metal artist Peter Lorimer to resemble the appearance of a soft drink bottle. The visual nature of the design and the educational information it displays will serve as a reminder of the scale of the plastic problem in Northern Ireland and a nudge to the public to recycle plastic waste or refuse it at source.

The initiative builds on the success of a separate single use plastics bottle bin that Translink installed at its North West Transport Hub in Derry-Londonderry. In operation for over 12 months now, positive passenger engagement with the bin has resulted in the removal of over 40,000 plastic bottles from waste generated at the station.

John Thompson, Head of Health, Safety and Environment at Translink said: “Translink recognises that it has a significant role to play in leading the transformation of public transport in NI. Translink’s commitments through the Better. Connected Strategy and our Climate Positive Strategy is creating a path for a healthier, greener and more sustainable future for generations to come. We are driving out waste and protecting and enhancing our natural heritage by reducing waste through employee and customer awareness, and through robust waste segregation, reducing the over-extraction of finite natural resources. This initiative at Lanyon Place will equip us to take another step forward in Translink’s journey to zero-waste and further improve awareness amongst our staff, customers and the public on the need to reduce the use of single-use plastics.”

Yvonne Leslie, Single-Use Plastics Policy Adviser at DAERA said: “DAERA is delighted to fund this initiative in conjunction with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. Initiatives like these bins will really make a difference to protect our natural environment. Of course, we would like to see the use of more reusable bottles and a reduction in the amount of single use plastic being purchased where possible, but this initiative by Keep NI Beautiful and Translink will help reduce the amount of litter on our streets and in turn prevent plastic from entering our seas.”

In helping to set up the initiative, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful aims to highlight the persistent, council-wide problem with plastic pollution that has been particularly widely reported in Belfast in recent months. The charity will soon publish their annual Cleaner Neighbourhood Report 2021/22, which indicates that 50% of 554 areas surveyed across the country contained some form of drinks-related litter present. Their Litter Composition Report and the Litter Composition Producers Report will follow next year and take a deeper dive into the plastics issue.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollutions Solutions Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “These ad-hoc bins are a transparent, living and inescapable monument to the mountain of plastics that we continue to create at all times. They provide another space to manage the plastic waste that passes through a particularly busy station, but much more importantly, they remind us that the plastic problem is still very much with us as an issue and that we need to abandon our single-use culture.”

The ‘Single-Use Plastic Bottle Bin’ has been installed through Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s ‘Tacking Plastic Northern Ireland’ programme, which is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. The programme encourages the public, councils, schools and businesses to avoid buying single-use plastic and to make a commitment to reduce pointless plastic by signing a ‘Plastic Promise’. Visit www.liveherelovehere.org/plasticpromise to find out more.

[Photo Caption] From Front to Back: Christopher Walsh, Communications Officer, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and Yvonne Leslie, Single-Use Plastics Policy Advisor, DAERA join Rachel McCann, Environment Team, Translink and Owen Cormican, Facilities Manager – Property Department, Translink for the launch of the single use plastics bottle bin at Lanyon Place Station, Belfast