140,000kg of illegal waste removed from mountains

By Aimee Walsh

140,000kg of waste was removed from 750 individual illegal dumping sites across the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains in 2020 by The Pure Project.

The Pure Project was launched in 2006 and is the first project of its kind in Ireland to try combat illegal dumping.

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Members of the Pure Mile Project

The project uses a multi-disciplined approach in tackling illegal dumping, incorporating a number of educational initiatives, community projects, awareness campaigns, enforcement and preventative measures.

Since its launch in 2006, the Pure Project has collected over 3,500 tonnes of rubbish from over 12,500 illegal dumping sites in the mountains, which equals 400,000 bags of waste.

Project manager Ian Davis explained to The Echo some of the ways in which the project sets out to tackle illegal dumping in these regions.

Mr Davis said: “In 2006 we set down to look at a different approach to illegal dumping and using different methods. We have a number of different projects we have done in the past that would have been Pure creating environmental awareness through animation with teenagers. We did another project called the Pure Beauty Project which was teenagers creating anthems all about the environment.

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Some of the rubbish collected Photos courtesy of Pure Project

“The biggest project we have at the moment is the Pure Mile Project, which engages with all types of people throughout the Dublin Wicklow Mountains and they adapt miles of road, woodland, quarries and they do environmental projects, anti-dumping initiatives and litter picks as well as a lot of the work on wild flowers and plants.

“There are huge numbers involved. You have individuals, residents, walking groups, resident’s groups, cycling groups, businesses and organisations doing major clean-ups of the Dublin Wicklow Uplands.”

The Pure Project works with a number of organisations and stakeholders such as The Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, Wicklow County Council, South Dublin County Council, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Coillte, National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Wicklow Uplands Council.

Ian said that the project has made “huge progress” in reducing illegal dumping in the Wicklow and Dublin mountains over the years.

“If you compare the amount of dumping we collected in 2020, which was 140 tonnes of waste, to 2008 which was our busiest year, when we removed 440 tonnes, we’ve seen a 68% reduction.  However, it is extremely important that we do not become complacent, because if we do, it won’t take long before dumping will be on the increase.”

In 2020, due to Covid-19 restrictions and government guidelines, the pure mile could not organise their usual clean ups and litter picks across the South Dublin Uplands. Coupled with an increase in footfall to these scenic locations, hundreds of tents, sleeping bags, blankets, tables, barbeques and cans were left on the landscape.

Past clean-up events carried out by Pure Mile groups resulted in the removal of hundreds of bags of litter and rubbish, demonstrating the importance and necessity of the Project.

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