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The maiden voyage of Dundrum Coastal Rowing Clubs new marine litter boat took place last Saturday 9th March 2024.

This new boat will allow for the recovery of litter in areas of Dundrum Bay that cannot be safely reached by foot. Speaking about the project funded by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. Cathal Ó hÍr from Dundrum Coastal Rowing Club said, “We are delighted to have been awarded funding for the shallow draft boat, which will allow us to carry out regular clean ups along Dundrum Bay and its four contributing rivers. This boat will provide access to areas not safely reachable from land. This will help, not only to improve the shoreline in terms of biodiversity and aesthetics, but also the health and wellbeing of our local community. We will also be able to carry out educational awareness projects demonstrating how marine litter can damage our beautiful area and how with this boat we can alleviate this harm”.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollutions Solution Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful says, “This grant scheme is designed to reduce the environmental impact of litter on our marine eco systems. We have been delighted with the diverse range of innovative projects this year which want to tackle waste entering the marine environment as well as removing what is already there. Marine litter is a global challenge, affecting the world’s oceans, seas, coastlines and shores. A wide range of material such as plastics, metals and glass end up in our marine environments and these all decompose very slowly if at all. The most commonly found litter is plastic.”

Photo Caption: from left Orla McGrady Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, members of Dundrum Coastal Rowing Club - Cathal Ó hír, Adrian Mullan, Andrew Boyd (club chair) and Robert Graham.

Ulster University, in collaboration with environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs is tackling plastic waste and climate change with the installation of a thought-provoking art installation which serves as a recycling bin, at its state-of-the-art Belfast City Campus.

Launching in February to capitalise on staff and students’ commitments to be more environmentally considerate, this ‘Single-Use Plastic Bottle Bin’ is designed to both remove plastic bottles from the general waste stream and increase awareness and responsibility amongst the Ulster University community on the threat of plastic pollution.

Linking into Ulster University’s Sustainability Strategy, the 6ft tall container has been created by local metal artist Peter Lorimer to evoke the appearance of a soft drink bottle. The visual impact of the design acts as a reminder of the scale of the plastic problem in Northern Ireland and as a nudge to the public to recycle plastic waste or better still refuse it altogether.

Marie-Louise Gaile, Sustainability Manager at Ulster University said: “At Ulster University we are responding to the climate emergency and biodiversity challenges through our Sustainable Futures for All strategy. The University provides vital research output and learning on the transition from a ‘take-make-waste’ linear economy to a circular economy where waste is designed out and materials are reused and remanufactured.

“We manage our University resources sustainably and support staff, students, and visitors to make greener choices while travelling to and when on campus. We re-use materials across the University through our sharing portal where otherwise unwanted items are posted and claimed by departments which helps reduce purchasing, disposal and environmental impacts and our general waste is diverted from landfill by being recycled or used to generate electricity.

“This engaging and visually-striking installation will further improve awareness, encourage action, and motivate our staff, students, and visitors to integrate sustainable behaviours into their daily lives and reduce harmful plastic waste.”

In helping to set up the initiative, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful aims to highlight the persistent problem with plastic pollution. The 2022 Marine Litter Report, produced by the charity, found that 90% of the litter found on our beaches in Northern Ireland is made of plastic. This is the highest since the survey began in 2012.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollutions Solutions Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful comments: “This waste project provides a transparent, imposing reminder of the scale of our plastic consumption. It’s not just about collecting plastics; it's a concerted effort to raise awareness of the significant impact of plastic pollution to address the serious issue of litter in our environment. By introducing these bins and promoting the principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle, we hope to encourage behaviours such as carrying reusable water bottles and seeking alternatives to single use plastics.”

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.


For more information contact:

Maria McLaughlin

Tackling Plastic Communication Officer



New Waste Prevention Guide for Business

Maria McLaughlin    Tue 09 Jan 2024

This new guide focuses on Single-Use Plastic Reduction and the Circular Economy. In this guide, we explore practical strategies and steps to help businesses transition towards a circular model, where waste is prevented where possible, then minimised, resources are conserved, and single-use plastic is eliminated. By embracing these principles, your business can play a crucial role in creating a more sustainable future while benefitting from cost savings and enhanced brand reputation.

Read it at:www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org/businesses-tackling-plastic

David McCann   Tue 31 Oct 2023   updated: Tue 20 Feb 2024

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Launch Plastic Survey In The Sports Arena

Maria McLaughlin    Mon 16 Oct 2023   updated: Tue 21 Nov 2023

Insights needed on the impact of single-use plastics in sports

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has launched a timely survey aimed at assessing the impact of single-use plastics in Northern Ireland's sports clubs.

The online questionnaire is part of the charity’s work on waste and pollution, which seeks to understand and reduce the impact of plastic pollution in the Northern Ireland environment.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollution Solutions Strategic Lead comments, “This survey is about us gaining valuable insights into how sports clubs tackle plastic waste, and the challenges they face when doing so.”

The “Single-Use Plastics Usage in Northern Ireland's Sports Clubs” survey is open to new responses until 13 November 2023.

All responses received will help to provide a comprehensive overview of the efforts being made in the sports community to reduce single-use plastics and ramp up efforts to shape effective strategies for the future.

Chris continues, “We already know that there are clubs doing sterling work to reduce waste and in particular single-use plastic waste. Sports clubs are in a unique position of influence and can really set a good example leading the way in sustainability”.

This survey and the subsequent report on the Impact of Single-Use Plastics Usage in Northern Ireland's Sports Clubs have been made possible through the support and collaboration of the Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs (DAERA). All responses will be kept confidential and anonymous.


For more information contact:

Maria McLaughlin

Tackling Plastic Communication Officer



Pilot scheme tackled single-use plastic and period poverty

Belfast City Council is celebrating after winning a Behaviour Change Award for tackling single-use plastic.

The council was awarded the accolade by environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful for its trailblazing free reusable period products project, which has been recognised as an impactful and pioneering initiative.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollutions Solutions Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful comments:

“The judges for this award were thoroughly impressed by the efficiency and thoughtfulness of this project, which not only tackles plastic waste but also addresses the pressing issue of period poverty. The project not only demonstrates concern for the environment but also showcases the council’s commitment to promoting inclusivity and sustainability within the community. By offering free reusable period products, the council have provided a practical solution to reduce single-use plastic waste, helped to break down stigmas, and ensured that all individuals have access to essential products without compromising the environment.”

Plastic pollution is a global concern that poses severe threats to ecosystems, marine wildlife, and human health. By implementing innovative solutions like providing free reusable period products, councils can actively contribute to the reduction of plastic waste and create a cleaner, healthier environment for generations to come.

Belfast City Councillor and Chair of People and Communities Committee, Micky Murray comments “Introducing small positive changes to all aspects of our everyday lives with a focus on tackling environmental issues can have such a positive impact. The amount of plastic within single use period products is staggering. This pilot project is such unique way of addressing an issue that I’m confident not many people knew about. Encouraging the use of reusable, non-plastic period products is helping provide a long-term solution to dealing with plastic contaminating our general waste.

“It’s fantastic to see Belfast City Council recognised for implementing this scheme and leading from the front to normalise the use of reusable period products. I want to congratulate all of our staff for their efforts in making the scheme such a wonderful success.”

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful opened applications for this award to all Northern Ireland councils, to acknowledge and bolster their commitment to changing behaviours and habits related to single-use plastic consumption.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful works closely with local councils to encourage new ways to avoid the proliferation of pointless plastics in our communities and to pursue alternatives that are kinder to our planet. Outlined in our strategic plan is the aim to eliminate single-use plastics in-house in all Councils in Northern Ireland by 2023. All 11 councils have signed up to the Plastic Promise - this is a pledge that councils make to reduce and phase out their use of single use plastics from day-to-day operations. Councils can use the Plastic Promise to focus on eliminating specific plastic items, and they are invited to renew their pledge as they make progress.

Chris Gourley continues, “This project serves as a model for other councils in Northern Ireland facing similar challenges, inspiring them to adopt sustainable practices and behavioural changes. Well done Belfast City Council”.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Win Zero Waste Award

Maria McLaughlin    Tue 29 Aug 2023

Council commended for strong commitment to the waste hierarchy, emphasising waste minimisation, reuse, and recycling

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been presented with a Zero Waste Award for its work on environmental initiatives that have gone that extra mile for waste management and sustainability in their local area.

The local government award, created by environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, aims to recognise and celebrate the efforts of councils in Northern Ireland in reducing the amount of wasted resources.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollutions Solution Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful comments:

“We were particularly impressed by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s collaborative communication efforts with the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), their provision of reuse workshops, and engagement with social enterprises to rethink waste as a valuable resource. Moreover, support for local communities through initiatives such as community fridges, the Christmas Toy Container, School Uniform Scheme, and Cloth Nappy Scheme showcases their dedication to translating education and communication into tangible, on-the-ground actions that make a real difference.

Chris continues, “Winning the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Zero Waste Award is a testament to the council’s hard work, innovative thinking, and commitment to sustainable practices. I would like to congratulate Mid and East Antrim Borough Council for all their efforts, which are committed to the ethos of reduce, reuse and recycle. We hope this award will go some way to building further sustainable practices that reduce environmental impact. Thank you to all the councils that submitted schemes. It’s very evident that there is lots of good work going on.”

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, who received the award on behalf of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said:

“We are delighted to have achieved such an important ‘Zero Waste’ award 2023 with Tackling Plastic Northern Ireland. Now more than ever, we understand the importance of waste minimisation, re-valuing unavoidable ‘waste’ as a usable resource and to support a circular economy. We will continue to promote this to our residents and stakeholders, to engender behavioural change and to move away from a ‘throw away’ society.”

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful created the Zero Waste Award in 2022/2023 to reward positive local council contributions to sustainability and to recognise efforts in reducing the amount of wasted resources.

Councils in Northern Ireland have all signed up to the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Plastic Promise which recognises that councils are in a position to lead, influence and make change. Each of the 11 Councils have pledged to reduce plastic waste by eliminating avoidable single-use plastics (SUPs) across services, offices, green spaces and events by employing the refuse, reduce, and recycle ethos; switching to alternatives wherever possible.

By achieving a Zero Waste Award, councils are able to celebrate and promote not only their successes, but they also have the opportunity to collaborate and extend their work with more suppliers and likeminded organisations.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, working in partnership with Moy Park, is delighted to announce a new biodiversity recovery project for schools.

The Hedgerow Heroes Project will benefit a total of 33 schools over the next three years, with 11 schools selected to participate each year. Each school will receive 20m of native hedgerow, planted by students during one of three project workshops. Education will be provided on correct hedgerow management, and schools will receive a follow up visit to support their developing hedges.

This project, and others like it, are much needed. Northern Ireland is the 12th worst performing region in the world for biodiversity loss. Native hedgerow plants like hawthorn, blackberry and hazel maximise habitat opportunities and resources for wildlife. Over the course of the coming three years, this project will provide a total of 660m of new hedgerow for Northern Ireland, providing significant opportunities for biodiversity recovery.

Hedgerows also have an important role to play in reaching net zero: the UK Committee on Climate Change has recommended a 40% increase to the UK hedgerow network.

Emma Denton, Biodiversity Recovery Coordinator at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said, “We’re pleased to launch this important project in partnership with Moy Park. Northern Ireland’s biodiversity is rapidly declining; urgent action is needed to protect our wildlife for future generations to enjoy. The Hedgerow Heroes project is an exciting opportunity for schools to learn about biodiversity recovery, while also improving their local environment in a practical way.”

Declan Cunningham, Head of Sustainability and Risk at Moy Park said:

“We’re delighted to partner with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and schools across NI to improve biodiversity. Hedgerows are vital for providing shelter for wildlife as well as food and foraging opportunities for birds. This initiative is a great way to help children learn more about nurturing healthy habitats in their local environment, and become Hedgerow Heroes.

“At Moy Park our ambition is to reach Net Zero by 2040, and biodiversity plays a key part in our sustainability strategy to make this happen. We have set up biodiversity teams at our sites across the UK, as well as working with schools and community groups to improve biodiversity in our local areas.”

A competition to select participating schools will launch next week- keep an eye on the Eco Schools NI website, www.eco-schoolsni.org , and social media channels for more details.

General improvement undermined by failings in other areas

Northern Ireland was a cleaner place to live last year, a report funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has found.

The Cleaner Neighbourhoods Report, produced by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, surveyed sites across towns, rural roads and recreational areas for litter and other forms of pollution, and rated Northern Ireland’s overall environmental quality at 72% in 2022, a 6% uptick on the previous year’s result.

However, while more parts of the country enjoyed better levels of cleanliness than before, the number of sites that failed to pass acceptable standards saw a slight increase on the previous year, rising from 15% to 16%.

Dr Ian Humphreys, CEO of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said:

“It would be fair to characterise the results of our most recent Cleaner Neighbourhoods Report as a mixed picture. It is, of course, positive that we have published our best overall performance since 2017, but it is also clear that we have taken some backwards steps.

“The big picture, however, is that one out of six places that we surveyed did not achieve the basic minimum conditions of a healthy environment that is a fundamental human right. That number is still far too high, and should act as a reminder that a lot more work lies ahead.”

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 and it is encouraging this report shows an improvement in our overall environmental quality. However, as highlighted in this report, there is always room for further progress especially in regards to cigarette and takeaway litter. It is important we realise we all have an ongoing responsibility to protect and care for our environment and that we need to work towards achieving a clean, healthy space for everyone.”

Other areas of concern identified by the report include a spike in the presence of cigarette litter across the land from 65% to 78%. Takeaway litter also soared in prevalence by 117%, while dog fouling continued its descent in the opposite direction, falling from 6% to 2%.

As with other years, the publication made local-council data available for street-cleansing costs and the number of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued. There was an average of 1,203 littering and 34 dog-fouling fines handed out across local-government areas, with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council serving the highest number of FPNs on both counts. The annual clean-up bill was estimated at £30,961,701, working out at £41.57 per ratepayer.

Surveys for the Cleaner Neighbourhoods Report were completed between July to September 2022.

Outside of inspecting transects for litter, all surveys conducted assessments to determine levels of graffiti, staining, detritus and flyposting. Each site was assigned a grade ranging from A to D and a cleanliness score that was used to calculate the overall environmental-quality percentage for Northern Ireland.

To read the Cleaner Neighbourhoods Report, visit www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org/cleaner-neighbourhoods-report.

There are an estimated 11,983,664 items of litter polluting Northern Ireland at all times, according to the findings within a local report funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has revealed the figure in its Litter Composition Analysis Report 2022-23, following surveys of 1,100 rural and urban roads across all local council areas between November 2022 and February 2023.

Analysing all forms of litter including drinks containers, dog fouling and confectionery packaging, the report establishes that producers from the soft drinks, chocolate and chewing gum industries command 64 per cent of all branded litter found around the province. It has also been identified that Coca-Cola HBC Ltd, Red Bull GmbH, Mondelez Europe, and AG Barr products make up 50 per cent of the branded litter problem, and that 54 per cent of the total litter recorded is made from plastic.

Vaping products have emerged as almost two per cent of the litter problem, placing them on a par with perennial litter offenders like coffee cups and food waste. And cigarette-butts remain a significant threat to the environment, with a predicted 1,194,692 butts scattered throughout communities in Northern Ireland, accounting for ten per cent of the overall litter slice.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollution Solutions Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “Our report highlights that Northern Ireland has a severe litter problem. Understanding the composition of litter is a sensible step in putting forward credible solutions.

“It is particularly concerning that most of the litter recorded was single use plastic, but this does help to highlight how crucial it is for Northern Ireland to move towards a circular economy in which the life cycle of products is extended as far as possible, resulting in less waste in circulation. Whilst we recognise that legislative change is on the way, including Extended Producer Responsibility beginning from next year, and a Deposit Return Scheme from 2025, more needs to be done to educate, engage and empower. We strongly believe that with continued collaboration and contribution from producers, policymakers, politicians and the public, we can deliver change.”

Lesley Roberts, Head of Waste Prevention Policy at DAERA said: “DAERA remains committed to tackling the problem of littering and will continue to work with stakeholders to advance our anti-litter agenda. DAERA uses a combined approach of legislation, education, awareness and enforcement to tackle littering, and provide funding to support programmes which challenge litter-habits directly as well as changing attitudes and behaviours towards litter.

In December 2022, the Department successfully implemented new legislation which gave local Councils discretionary powers to increase the maximum fixed penalty notice fine from £80 to £200 for litter and dog fouling offences in their council area.”

The Litter Composition Analysis Report 2022-23 is the second litter producer-focused study published by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, following a similar Litter Composition Producer Report released by the charity in 2021. Both reports are part of a wider project funded by DAERA to address the production, consumption and littering of single-use plastic in Northern Ireland.

To read the Litter Composition Analysis Report 2022-23 in full, visit www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org/litter-composition-reports.