Tuesday 25 June 2019

IBAL Litter League to include rivers and coasts

Bill Browne

For the first time coastal areas and inland waterways, including as stretch of the River Blackwater at Fermoy and Youghal, are to be incorporated into the 2018 Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) survey.

In recognition of the increasing problem of marine-rated litter, IBAL has announced it is to extend its annual Litter League to include 60 rivers, ports and beaches, which will be ranked on its next table published in late summer. 

Established in 1996 by well-known Fermoy businessman and philanthropist Dr Tom Cavanagh, IBAL is an alliance of companies sharing the common belief that the presence of litter in our environment has a significant detrimental impact on our economy. 

It holds a core belief that the main sources of Irish property, such as tourism, foreign direct investment, and our food industries, are heavily dependent on maintaining the image of Ireland as a 'clean and green island.'

Introduced 16 years ago, the IBAL Litter League ranks towns and cities across the country according to their litter levels and is used as a barometer by local authorities and community groups to gauge the effectiveness of anti-litter initiatives. 

With the exception of last year when the town was not included, Fermoy has performed particularly well on the annual table, finishing in the top three on three occasions.  

After an absence of some years, Mallow was included in the 2017 table finishing in a creditable joint-22nd place, a considerable improvement on its final 2011 position, when the town finished the year in 40th position and was labelled by competition judges as being "littered". 

IBAL spokesman Conor Hogan said Ireland's coastal areas and waterways were a "vital part of our tourism product". 

"For this reason alone they warrant inclusion in our survey. But, by allowing us to draw attention to the broader issue of marine litter, their significance is much greater," said Mr Hogan.  He said that litter was transforming from being primarily a visual concern to a health an environmental one.

"Marine litter in particular is being increasingly seen as signalling the inevitable death of our seas unless a rapid change can be effected. For example, it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish," said Mr Hogan. 

The Junior Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Damien English, said his department supported the extension of the IBAL programme. 

"The IBAL Litter League has proven a powerful instrument in focussing attention among local authorities, volunteer groups and others on litter in towns and cities," he said.

"It is my hope that  it will raise similar awareness  of how litter on land directly contributes to the urgent marine litter problem we face today."