Cigarette butts accounted for more than half of Ireland’s litter problem, research showed.
It has become more common over the last year.
Pedestrians and passing motorists were among the greatest culprits, according to a National Litter Pollution Report.
Cigarette butts were responsible for more than 56% of rubbish discarded on the streets.
Packaging items like cardboard, paper, bottles and caps, glass and cans comprised 17% of littering while food-related items made up 9% and sweet-related items like wrappers were blamed for under 8%.
Minister for Environment Denis Naughten published the 2017 National Litter Pollution Report.
He said: “The 2017 Report shows that the number of areas surveyed across the country deemed to be completely unpolluted from litter stands at 15.6%, the second highest level ever recorded.
“The results also demonstrate that over 79% of all areas surveyed in 2017 were deemed to be either litter free or only slightly polluted so this is very welcome news.”
He said smokers in particular could bring about a significant improvement through relatively minor behavioural changes.
“Everyone must accept that, ultimately, it is their own actions that will ensure whether or not we live in a litter free environment.”
The report revealed:
– 15.6% of areas surveyed were litter free, the second highest level ever achieved and an increase of 2.4% when compared to 2016 results;
– 63.9% of areas surveyed were slightly littered;
– The percentage of moderately polluted areas has decreased by 0.9% to 17.1% from 18.0% in 2016;
– The percentage of significantly polluted areas has decreased by 0.3% to 3.0% when compared to 2016 data;
– The percentage of grossly polluted areas has remained constant at 0.3%.
Local authorities are responsible for keeping public places under their control, including public roads, clear of litter.
This includes arranging cleansing programmes, as well as providing and emptying bins.
They can take enforcement action against people who break or ignore the law.
Gardai also have the power to issue on-the-spot fines for offences.