Plea for help to tackle beach litter

A coastal community has pleaded for help to tackle beach litter after their beach was destroyed with rubbish over the weekend heatwave.

The Myrtleville Coastal Action Group in Cork spoke out last night after volunteers collected almost 40 bags of rubbish from Myrtleville beach.

They called for increased support from the local authority and for a stronger Garda presence to tackle teenage drinking on the beach.

“To be honest, we are tired from it. We are trying to get help, but we are really disillusioned. And it’s very embarrassing,” a group spokeswoman said.

“Myrtleville is a nice place. Local residents put time and effort into keeping the beach clean. We have a lot of swimmers who use the area, summer and winter.

“But when we get this kind of weather, and you see crowds of people getting off the bus, carrying three and four slabs of beer, you know we’re going to be left with a mountain of rubbish.

“And it’s fine for the council to encourage volunteers to collect the rubbish. But what do we do with it then?”

The spokeswoman said the beach escaped major litter problems over the last two summers thanks in part to community development workers assigned to the area, which resulted in increased council support.

This year, however, there is no eligible candidate for the placement, and as a result, the council support has been reduced significantly.

“And here we are, the first weekend of great weather and Myrtleville is back in the news for the wrong reasons,” the spokeswoman said.

The beach is one of the few on this stretch of coastline with bins. They were overflowing on Saturday evening, and locals collected up to 20 bags of rubbish, and had no option but to leave them out for collection by the council.

The volunteers cleaned the beach to prevent plastic waste being washed out by the tide. A further 10 to 15 bags of rubbish were collected on Sunday.

A third was general rubbish, a third was fast-food related, and a third was beer cans and bottles.

Nappies, towels, four top-of-the-range wetsuits, and six pairs of shoes were also collected.

The rubbish was finally collected yesterday morning.

A spokesperson for Cork County Council said it operates a ‘pack it in, pack it out’ policy at beaches which means that bins are not provided and users are made responsible for taking their waste home.

“This is supported by An Taisce as part of the Blue and Green flag certification of beaches. Cork County Council works with local community groups through the green flag programme to effect clean ups on beaches.”

The Green Party’s Cork North Central representative, Oliver Moran, said people appeared to use the bins, but the root cause of the problem is an economy that produces so much litter.

“Ultimately, if we want to address litter we have to cut down on wasteful packaging and a throw-away economy,” he said.

The Green Party’s Waste Reduction Bill 2017, launched last week, would bring back the deposit-return system for plastic and glass bottles.

It would also phase out single-use non-recyclable plastics, such as coffee cups and plastic cutlery, by 2020.


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