It is waste in the wrong place which ruins the appearance of our cities, towns, villages and countryside. Litter has many forms and many sources, from a sweet wrapper or cigarette butt that was thrown on the street to a dumped bag of rubbish, a fly-tipped load of demolition rubble or a dog fouled public park. But the impacts of litter also have a global impact. The accelerated warming of the earth is due to rising concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which are caused by human activities. Most products we buy and use cause greenhouse gas emissions in some way, e.g. during production and distribution. They also contribute towards exhausting our natural resources. Packaging takes energy to produce, therefore by cutting down on packaging production, and through recycling, we can reduce the amount of energy used and limit the release of further greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Your contribution during the Dublin Community Clean-up, however big or small, will have real and measurable benefits for our environment on a local and global level. Below are some facts and research on waste, plastics and litters impacts on our environment.
Stats on Waste
- If plastic production and use increases as currently estimated, by 2030, the emissions could reach 1.34 gigatons per year is equivalent to the emissions released by more than 295 new 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants. By 2050, the cumulation of these greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach over 56 gigatons—10–13 per cent of the entire remaining carbon budget.
- Cigarette butts are the biggest litter item found in Ireland accounting for 46% of all litter in Ireland in 2020. These butts also cause significant harm to our water sources. A 2011 Study found that the chemicals leaching from cigarette butts can be lethal to freshwater and marine fish species.
- Research has found that plastics can make up to around 75% of marine litter and this can up to 100% in some areas. When it gets into the ocean, plastic breaks up into smaller fragments called microplastics, which have been identified in commercial fish consumed by humans. Birds are highly susceptible to plastic ingestion, it is estimated that over 90% of all seabirds have ingested plastic.
- In Ireland, we use 22,000 single-use cups each hour which generally end up in incineration or landfill. This works out as 528,000 per day and 192,720,000 annually.
- In one day 220,000 plastic bottles of water are consumed.
- Ireland is one of the biggest generators per capita of waste in the EU.
- For every aluminium can collected and recycled enough energy is saved to run your television for three hours!
- Of the waste that goes to landfills almost 40% is organic waste, the majority of which is food waste.
- For 1kg of recycled plastics collected, 1.5kg of carbon dioxide is prevented from being released into the atmosphere (the same amount of carbon dioxide released by toasting 30 slices of bread!
- By recycling 1kg of paper instead of landfilling, enough energy is saved to run an energy-saving bulb non-stop for two days! For 1kg of recycled glass, the saving is 300g of carbon dioxide.
Actions in your community
- Reduce your personal consumption of plastic.
- Stop Food Waste and save yourself money.
- Repair items where possible.
- Encourage local businesses to support the Conscious Cup and Refill campaign.
- Introduce the Green Dog Walker campaign in your community. Find out information on your Local Authority website.
- If you spot environmental pollution or dumping use EPA’s See It? Say It! app to report it.