Environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful says there was more litter on streets and parks in 2014 than there has been in a decade.
The group reports that around one in six streets and parks failed to meet acceptable standards for litter during 2014.
Report author Chris Allen stated: “With just a few weeks until the new supercouncils come into being, this should serve as a wakeup call to the public and to Councils.”
“Cleansing budgets have remained almost static at a little under £40 million in the last three years, yet the amount of litter on our streets is rising. “This is simply unsustainable. Councils are fighting a valiant but losing battle. The army of street sweepers paid to clean up after us simply cannot keep up with tide of litter dropped by inconsiderate people.”
Across the 2,040 sites surveyed throughout 2014, the report details 354 sites which were deemed to have unacceptably high levels of litter and/or dog fouling.
Cigarette litter was the most common type of litter, followed by confectionary and drinks litter such as bottle tops or tin cans.
The report points out that high density housing areas are generally much more badly littered than lower density areas, but Mr Allen indicated that not enough work has been done to explore this.
He continued: “Littering is affected by population density, deprivation, the layout of the area, all sorts of things. People ignore bins that are only a few meters from them.
“We need to start to look at how we build an environment where littering doesn’t happen, or if it does the person gets reprimanded.”
The report also raises health concerns. Dog fouling was recorded on 10 per cent of sites overall but on nearly a quarter of sports pitches.
Surveyors also found 12 per cent of sites had broken glass, with the potential to cause cuts to the feet of children and pets.
Chief Executive at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Dr Ian Humphreys commented, “Our £40m annual street cleaning bill is just the start. We lose an estimated £7m in coastal tourism alone due to repellent nature of litter and we turn tourist businesses off because of litter. We lose £100m more through vandalism and graffiti. If we could convince people to change the way they behaved we could save millions of pounds every year.”
“We’re working on changing that behaviour now. Our new campaign ‘Live Here, Love Here’ aims to bring about the positive changes we all want to see in our communities. Working together we hope to achieve cleaner streets, reduce dog fouling, chewing gum and graffiti, improve use of derelict buildings and see the careful development of greenspace. Together we can build that sense of civic responsibility and community pride that will make our neighbourhoods so much better.”
The report will be available on the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Website.