Members of the Eco Rangers NI, along with Live Here Love Here and Council officers, undertook a 10-week litter assessment of Larne area rural roads between January and March 2022.
Main arterial travel routes which have minimal footfall, such as Shane’s Hill Road and the A8, were targeted to determine both the volume and type of litter thrown by the public from their vehicles in rural locations.
In order to start the New Year with a blank canvas, the Eco Rangers undertook a massive cleanse of both routes with Live Here Love Here’s LEQ Officer Conor Bush surveying both routes to verify litter-free roads prior to the survey.
Following the survey, Eco Rangers volunteers have been cleansing both roads. The long chains of their signature blue bags lined up, one by one show motorists the ongoing litter issue and demonstrates the sheer volume of often hidden litter along our countryside roads.
Working with Council Staff at the Redlands Household Recycling Centre the Eco Rangers counted the number of littered items lifted. Data verified by Council staff confirmed 133 bags of litter have been lifted from both roads; 111 of these were lifted from the A8, with 22 lifted from Shane’s Hill Road. Plastic bottles and cans made up 48 of the 133 bags were with the remaining 85 bags being general mixed litter. The volume of this is staggering and it equates to 280.5 kgs of mixed waste and 132 kgs of plastic bottles and cans from ONLY two roadsides.
Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Cleaner Neighbourhood Report 2020/21 identified that amongst other rural roads are disproportionally affected by litter when compared to residential, recreational and primary retail areas. This specific study concluded that up to 95% was sourced from vehicles. The results above demonstrates how there is still a deeply ingrained lack of respect in the public mindset for the natural environment, and how throwing litter from a vehicle has not register as a criminal act.
Helen Tomb, Live Here Love Here Manger said: “Live Here Love Here welcomes this unique initiative undertaken by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and partner volunteer group Eco Rangers NI. The survey demonstrates the blight of rural road litter in the Larne area and volume of litter regularly collected by Council staff and volunteers. Litter is unsightly, has a devastating impact on wildlife and can be hazardous to humans. Litter is everyone’s responsibility. Rubbish should be disposed of carefully and ideally taken home.”
Abe Agnew, Eco Rangers NI founder said: “Whether you’re a driver or a passenger please refrain from throwing litter from your vehicle. Think bin, or take it home, and end the pollution of litter emanating from your vehicles.”
A spokesperson for Council said: “This initiative has really highlighted the issue of rural litter not just within our borough, but across Northern Ireland. Money spent cleansing these areas could be better spent on family based activities and community cohesion. We are continually grateful to the Eco Rangers for the support they provide, however we’d like to move away from the need for daily litter picks. We urge all our residents and visitors to the area to be mindful of the asset we have here in Mid and East Antrim.”