Westmeath’s smokers are the county’s biggest litter louts, according to Westmeath County Council.
In 2012, cigarette-related litter accounted for 49.86 per cent of the county’s litter pollution.
In Athlone, things are even worse, with cigarette-related litter accounting for 63.91 per cent of the litter in the town council’s area.
Also causing a problem is “food-related” litter, accounting for a tenth of all littering in the county. Some 91 per cent of the waste in this category is chewing gum.
The figures are contained in a new draft litter management plan for Westmeath, which is to cover the years from now until 2016.
Council environmental awareness officer, Ruth Maxwell, gave details of the plan to members of the council’s Environment and Water Services SPC on Monday of last week. The document was due to come before the full county council yesterday (Monday), and then a public consultation process is to take place.
Councillors welcomed the draft plan - but expressed anger at the level of litter and illegal dumping in the county.
Council official, Dave Hogan, said Westmeath is seeing “a crisis of illegal dumping”.“Up to now, it was up and down cul de sacs, but now, people are being totally brazen about it,” he said.
On the issue of cigarette litter, he said that one of the comments in the recent IBAL report, which criticised the levels of litter in Mullingar, related to cigarette ends in the Market Square.
In relation to general litter, he said more bins isn’t the answer, as what happens then is that people try to put their domestic refuse in them.
Committee chairman, Frankie Keena, said the value that the bring centres represent - at just €2 a visit - should be highlighted, in a bid to stop people dumping their waste illegally.