2.0 Litter

closeddate_range8 Mar, 2021, 9:00am - 5 Apr, 2021, 5:00pm

2.1       What is Litter?

Under the Litter Pollution Act 1997, as amended, the definition of litter is: “any substance or object, whether or not intended as waste, that when deposited in a place other than a litter receptacle or other place designated for the deposit is, or likely to become unsightly, deleterious, nauseous or unsanitary, whether by itself or with any other such substance or object, and regardless of its size and volume or the extent of the deposit”.  The definition is quite wide and includes graffiti, fly-tipping, domestic refuse placed in a litter bin, casual littering from papers/cigarette butts/chewing gum, advertising and dog fouling as well as anything else which is or is likely to become unsightly.

Image; Roadside Littering

As a member of the public – what are my responsibilities regarding litter?

The Litter Pollution Act puts legal responsibility on individuals to control litter. The following are examples of offences under the Act:

 · Failure to keep private property which is visible from a public place litter free

 · Dropping cigarette butts, chewing gum, paper, food, etc. on the ground

· Failure to clean up dog litter when walking one’s dog in a public place

· Placing household waste in a public litter bin.

As a business person - what are my responsibilities when it comes to litter?

The Litter Pollution Act puts legal responsibility on businesses to control litter. The following are examples of offences under the Act:

· Failure to keep the footpaths and pavements not exceeding 100m of the business premises litter free

· Failure to secure transported material on a trailer or truck

· Dumping material (fly-tipping)

 · Putting up posters or signs without authorisation

· Placing advertising flyers on cars

· Placing commercial waste in a public litter bin

 

What are the penalties for littering?

Leaving or throwing litter in a public place is an offence which can be subject to an 'on the spot' fine of €150 and a maximum fine of €3,000 through the Courts (conviction on indictment for litter offences carries a maximum fine of €130,000).  Large-scale dumping can be prosecuted under the Waste Management Acts, with penalties on conviction or indictment of up to €15 million and/or a 10-year prison term.

 

2.2       National Litter Monitoring System

The National Litter Monitoring System developed by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment enables each Local Authority to analyse the extent and severity of litter pollution in their functional areas, the types the sources and causes of litter.  These results are issued annually and highlight areas which require attention.  The table below highlights what litter types are most frequently surveyed in Kilkenny.

 

        Table 2.1 Litter Composition in 2018 & 2019

Litter Type

2019

2018

Cigarette Litter

88%

40%

Packaging Litter

3%

25%

Litter Type

2019

2018

Sweet Litter

4%

6%

Food Related Litter

1%

16%

Paper Litter

2%

7%

Dog Foul

0.2%

5%

Other

1.8%

1%

 

Table 2.2 Causes of Litter in 2018 & 2019

Causes of Litter

2019

2018

Pedestrians

57%

44%

Passing motorists

43%

19%

Schools/School Children

0%

10%

Places of Entertainment

0%

8%

Retail Outlet

0%

5%

Gathering Point

0%

5%

Fast Food Outlet

0%

5%

Other

0%

4%

 

2.3        How to Make A Litter Complaint

Complaints can be reported via the Councils Litter Hotline 1800-200-156 or via the EPA’s National Environmental Complaints Line (NECL) 1850 365 121.  Calls made to the EPA are then forwarded to Kilkenny County Council to investigate.  Alternatively, complaints can be received via postal correspondence, by email; environment@kilkennycoco.ie or by presenting in person to speak with an environment staff member in County Hall.  Complaints cannot be accepted via the Councils social media platforms.

 

Members of the public are invited to contact the Councils Environment Section should they observe any illegal or suspicious waste activities; this collaborative approach greatly assists the local authority in minimizing the impact of littering and illegal waste activities.

 

2.4       Litter Complaint Handling

The introduction of Microsoft’s Customer Relations Management (CRM) system provides accurate recording of information regarding the various types of interaction between the public and the Council’s Environment Section. This has improved responsiveness and provided a valuable reporting tool for environmental management.

 

The CRM system records complaints and details of all actions undertaken in the resolution of that complaint.  Once a litter complaint has been logged it is assigned to an appropriate Environmental Enforcement Team Member based on the complaint location.  They investigate the activity/incident with the view to obtaining evidence which might secure a fine or prosecution, should there be any illegality involved. 

 

The Environmental Enforcement Team Member then reports on the investigation with the necessary clean-up or removal of rubbish within 21 days.

 

Figure 2.3 Litter Complaint Procedure

Complaint Received

Enter details on Microsoft Customer Relations

Management (CRM) Database

 

>Complaint referred to Environment Enforcement Team for assessment

Case assigned to relevant Team Member

Investigation carried out

Waste Removed within 21 days, CRM updated

Evidence Recovered – On-the-Spot Fine issued

and/or Notice or Legal Proceeding initiated

Chief Executive’s Order prepared to initiate

legal proceedings for non –compliance

with Notices issued

Legal Proceedings Initiated

PENALTIES/ COURT COSTS.

MAXIMUM FINE for summary conviction is €3,000

2.4     Litter/Waste Complaints Received

The CRM system in 2019 logged 1,042 environmental complaints, of these 895 broadly related to litter and waste management.  In 2020, the Council experienced an increased number of complaints with 1,307 received, with 999 relating to litter and waste management.  The following table provides a broad break down of the complaint categories relating to litter and waste.

Table 2.3 Waste/Litter Complaints Received in 2019 & 2020

Categories

2019

2020

Illegal Dumping/Litter

661

737

Graffiti

2

1

Dog Fouling

25

29

Bring Banks

6

14

WEEE

10

3

     

Green Waste

5

3

Hazardous Waste

8

2

Waste Collection

0

4

Waste Management

13

8

Burning of Waste

23

55

     

Abandoned Cars/ELV

86

76

Tyres

8

7

     

Election Posters

6

12

Unauthorised Signage

42

48

Total

895

999

2.6       GDPR Compliance

Kilkenny County Council creates, collects and processes a vast amount of personal data in various multiple formats on a daily basis. Kilkenny County Council's commitments that personal data managed by the organisation is;

  • Obtained lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner
  • Obtained for only specified, explicit and legitimate purposes
  • Adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary for purpose for which it was obtained
  • Recorded, stored accurately and securely and where necessary kept up to date
  • Kept only for as long as is necessary for the purposes for which it was obtained.
  • Kept in a form which permits identification of the data subject
  • Processed only in a manner that ensures the appropriate security of the personal data including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing.

 

 

2.6.1 GDPR Procedure Regarding CCTV and Drone Mobilisation

Kilkenny County Council has overt cameras and drones operational to fight against illegal dumping. Procedures are in place for CCTV and drone use. A DPIA (Data Protection Impact Assessment) is prepared in accordance with GDPR prior to use. Evidence captured has been successfully submitted to the Courts to obtain prosecutions under both the Litter Pollution and Waste Management Acts, as amended.

In a ruling against another Council in October 2020 the Data Protection Commissioner found the Litter Pollution Act 1997 and the Waste Management Act 1996 did not provide a lawful basis for a County Council to use of covert cameras with a view to detect and deter illegal littering and dumping.  These two pieces of environmental legislation do not regulate the processing of personal data” as required by the EU’s law enforcement directive, a parallel piece of legislation which came into force in May 2018 at the same time as the GDPR.

Kilkenny County Council is seeking amendments to the relevant environmental legislation to ensure that these enforcement practices can continue.

2.7       Data Protection Act, 1988 Compliance

 

Kilkenny County Council cannot “Name and Shame” litter offenders who pay their issued litter fine as it is in breach of the principles of data protection as set down in the Data Protection Act, 1988. 

It is only when court proceedings are taken against a litter offender who has failed to pay their litter fine or someone who is prosecuted under the Waste Management Act that the court proceedings can be reported.

The Council works with the local media outlets to highlight upcoming cases as they can report and publish in their publications, they do not publish third party accounts of court proceedings, therefore a court reporter must be present in order for the court proceeding to be covered by the news outlet