Pedestrians are the biggest litter culprits in Laois, followed closely by people at gathering points and leisure/entertainment premises, according to the latest report from Laois County Council.
Between them, the two groups cause almost two thirds of litter, with most of the remainder accounted for by passing motorists, shops and fast food restaurants. Fly tipping (the illegal dumping of large items) is just one percent.
Conducted as part of a review of Laois County Council’s three year litter plan, the survey found that tolerence for a dirty neighbourhood is disappearing. The number of public complaints doubled in two years, with 818 calls to the environment section in 2010, most of these about litter and illegal dumping.
The report blames the smoking ban for the dramatic rise in discarded cigarette butts on the streets, which made up one third of litter in 2009. Most litter is packaging however, coming in at 40 percent while sweet wrappers and food add another 20 percent. Most of the sweet wrapper problem is crisp bags, while chewing gum accounts for almost all food related waste.
The problem of dog fouling is also cited in the report.
“There is now a high percentage of dog ownership in our towns and villages, and the incidence of dog fouling is increasing. Dog owners are responsible for their pets’ waste with a legal obligation on them to remove and dispose of it,” the report says, asking the public to call the litter hotline with details of time, location and dog owner.
There are three full time litter wardens in Laois, last year issuing 376 fines but less than a third ended in successful prosecutions. Just 25 people brought to court for littering were convicted of breaking the law.
The Litter Management Plan aims to tackle the problem through education, community help, litter prevention, law enforcement and recycling. It was agreed by Cllrs last week to adopt the revised plan for another three year period. The confidential litter hotline is 1800 32 32 30.