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NI Litter: Threat to eco-system exposed

Claire Hudson   Fri 28 Feb 2020

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, has released a report funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), that demonstrates that litter remains at concerning levels in NI – damaging our forests, parks, beaches and streets.

The Litter Composition Report estimates 1,294,164 items are littered on our streets at any one time, weighing approximately 28 tonnes and costing the public purse £45 million annually in Northern Ireland.

According to the report, a significant amount of the litter found contained plastic - 71% is made up of cigarette butts, plastic bottles, confectionary and crisp wrappers. Plastic never breaks down and forms harmful micro-plastics which enter our ecosystem. The second most common category was metals at 14.5%, which was mostly made up of non-alcoholic drinks packaging at 9.7%.

Agriculture and Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, stated: “My Department is actively engaged in protecting and valuing our precious landscape, so it can be enjoyed by everyone. Those who engage in littering are not valuing our landscape and these actions have a negative impact that is felt across Northern Ireland. This Litter Composition Report shows that the amount of litter in our environment and entering the eco-system is still a real issue, and the findings will help to identify ways to address this. My Department, in partnership with Councils and NGOs, such as Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, is using a combined approach of legislation, education, awareness and enforcement to tackle and improve the litter issue in Northern Ireland. We are also working towards Northern Ireland’s first Environment Strategy which will play a key role in setting Northern Ireland’s environmental priorities for coming decades.”

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and DAERA commissioned the independent litter compositional analysis to alert both the general public and business community to the seriousness of the situation – no similar study has been conducted in Northern Ireland to date.

Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful comments: “This is the first ever NI Litter Composition Report – and the root problems are clear. We need to tackle the fact that one in three people openly admit to littering*. We must also share the responsibility for litter that is being created through increased ‘convenience’ packaging.”

At Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful we invest in litter prevention awareness through our Live Here Love Here campaign.

#TacklingPlasticNI

Click on the link below to view full Litter Composition Report 2019/20.

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Litter Composition Report 2019/20