‘Nudge’ to community may stop ‘tide of litter’

Speakers at a 'Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful' event
Speakers at a 'Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful' event

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council was represented at an event held last week to tackle a “tide of litter” in Northern Ireland.

Delegates heard that the total cost of clearing litter cost approximately £43 million in 2015-16.

Recently, volunteers removed 53 bags of rubbish during a two-day clean of the shore at Larne Lough.

A volunteer in Whitehead reported that he and a colleague regularly fill between 25 and 30 bags of rubbish from a four-mile stretch between Kilroot and Whitehead, every three weeks.

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful , believes that offenders can be “nudged” to dispose of litter responsibly.

He explained: “A nudge is a way of encouraging a person to act in a particular manner – in this case not dropping litter

“Thankfully, most people don’t litter. A small number litter and don’t listen when you say stop; for those people we have fines and enforcement teams, who should be supported every step of the way.

“Everybody else who litters does it without really thinking about it and they are the people the nudge approach works for. “

Suggestions have included glow in the dark posters to deter littering after dark, spraying dog fouling with vivid dyes so people start to notice it as a problem, and encouraging dog owners to carry an extra bag in case they meet someone who has forgotten.

Mid and East Antrim Council has already approached voluntary groups Carnfunnock Dog Walkers in Larne and Whitehead Wombles for help with tackling dog fouling.

The deployment of CCTV cameras across the borough is also being considered.

The council has reminded that any person identified as not cleaning up after their dog will be issued with a fixed penalty of £80.