Press Releases

Issued Tuesday, 8 June 2021

World Oceans Day, celebrated annually on the 8th of June, is a recognised United Nations day that encourages people worldwide to celebrate and take action for our shared ocean, which connects us all. World Ocean Day unites and rallies the world to protect and restore our blue planet. 

On the 8th of June, the Think Before You Flush campaign will be celebrating our blue space with a live chat with Dr. Easkey Britton on Instagram. Easkey will discuss different sections of her new book “50 Things to Do by the Sea” and some of her inspirations for the book.  

“50 Things to Do by the Sea”, a beautifully written book by Irish Surfer and marine social scientist Dr. Easkey Britton and illustrated artfully by Maria Nilsson, was launched last month. The Irish coast offers numerous opportunities to have fun and, with the nice weather on the way, an increasing number of people are enjoying our beautiful coastal areas. However, we have all seen an increase in marine litter along our coastline. Easkey’s book combines fun-filled coastal activities with eco-awareness, this is the ultimate guide to enjoying days by the sea this summer in a sustainable manner.  

#ThinkB4UFlush 

Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to disintegrate quickly in our pipes and sewage systems, the synthetic materials in items like wipes, cotton buds and sanitary products makes them very strong and unable to break down. When these unsuitable items are flushed down the toilet, they can causes blockages in our wastewater network, pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants. They can also end up on our beaches and in our oceans, damaging our marine environment. Think Before You Flush is a public awareness campaign operated by Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water, addressing the issue of flushing these unsuitable items down the toilet. 

Britton’s book offers readers 50 actions that can be taken to become “the hero our seas need”, one of which is to “Think Before You Flush”. During the live chat with Easkey Britton, we will discuss the importance of the campaign and the impact this small action can make. 

 Tune into @CleanCoasts on Instagram to join in for the World Oceans Day celebrations. 

 

Issued April 1, 2021

Clean Coasts and Irish Water are delighted to announce that celebrity chef Donal Skehan is supporting this year’s Think Before You Pour Easter campaign. Think Before You Pour is a public awareness campaign run by Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water. The campaign discourages the public from pouring Fats, Oils and Grease (FOGs) down the kitchen sink, as 1 in 3 people living in Ireland admit to doing so.
In the Easter video, launched on his social media pages, Donal shares the most environmentally friendly ways to dispose of your FOGs after cooking, such as pouring them into a reusable container like an empty egg carton or yoghurt pot, and then emptying into a food-waste bin. Donal reminds us how making small changes in our kitchens can prevent big problems in our wastewater systems and environment.

Although FOGs might seem like liquid when poured, once they cool along the wastewater pipes this can cause blockages in homes, the public wastewater network and at wastewater treatment plants. These blockages can lead to overflows of sewage that can damage the environment. When FOGs combine with wipes and other sanitary items that shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet, fatbergs can form. This is seen daily in villages, towns and cities as Irish Water clear thousands of fatbergs from the wastewater network every month.

If you have a Food Waste Recycling service, small amounts of FOGs can be disposed of in the food waste recycling bin. FOG’s can be placed into a homemade GunkPot such as cardboard egg boxes and then placed in the food waste recycle bin. FOGs are not suitable for home composting.
Speaking about the campaign, Donal Skehan said: “Everyone cooking this Easter can have a positive impact on the environment directly from their own kitchen. I’m delighted to join the Think Before You Pour campaign in sharing environmentally friendly tips on disposing of your fats, oils and greases. Fatbergs begin in the kitchen, so always have a reusable container on hand to catch your FOGs, and never pour them down the sink.”

Tom Cuddy, Head of Asset Operations, Irish Water reflecting on the importance of the campaign said: “Irish Water is delighted to be teaming up with Clean Coasts and Donal Skehan for this year’s Think Before You Pour Easter campaign. We remove thousands of fatbergs and blockages from our public sewers every year. We are reminding people not to use the kitchen sink as a bin and to help us to safeguard the wastewater network and the environment by collecting cooled FOGs and disposing of them in their food bin.”

Speaking about the campaign, Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts said: “The prevention of blockages in our wastewater systems by fats, oils and greases is something everybody can engage in. Simply by being more conscious of our behaviour at the sink, and by making small changes, we can all have a positive impact on our natural environment. I would encourage and remind everyone to think before you pour this Easter.”

As part of the Easter campaign, Clean Coasts and Irish Water will be giving away a GunkPot as well as a Donal Skehan cookbook. To be in with a chance to win, go to: www.thinkbeforeyoupour.org to enter.

To find out more about the Think Before You Pour campaign please visit http://thinkbeforeyoupour.org/

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Issued Monday 8th March 2021
This International Women’s Day, the Think Before You Campaign is celebrating women who are leading the fight against sewage-related litter that pollutes our oceans and damages our wastewater systems. The Think Before You Flush campaign aims to highlight the impact of sanitary waste has on our natural and marine environment, it is run by Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water. Today a series of interviews will be launched on the Clean Coasts social media channels, featuring interviews with four trailblazing Irish women who are tackling the problem of sewage-related litter and the single-use products that cause it. They’ll be sharing their journeys to date, what inspires them in their work, and sharing their advice for other women who want to take action.
Featuring Corkwoman Eileen Greene, Company Director at Mooncup. Eileen, originally from County Cork, is a true sustainability pioneer. Driven by her passion for environmental issues, she joined Mooncup Ltd in 2004. As one of the founding members of the team she has contributed to the success of the world’s first silicone menstrual cup and the positive shift in the conversation around periods and re-usable products. Mooncup have seen an 165% increase in Irish sales over the past year, predominantly in the 18-24 year-old demographic.
Sheelin Conlon is an Entrepreneur who set up sustainable lifestyle store The Kind in 2018, after seeing first-hand the environmental devastation caused by plastic pollution while living in Asia. The Kind curates beautifully designed, sustainable and ethically made goods that are both kind to you and kind to the planet and have recently opened a store on Dublin’s Fade St (which is closed under Level 5 restrictions). Sheelin stocks a huge range of reusable and plastic-free alternatives to some of the most commonly flushed single-use items.
Jean Hobbs is Project Manager for the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade with Irish Water. Every single month, Irish Water clear in the region of 2,000 blockages from our wastewater systems. About 75 percent of these blockages are caused by inappropriate items such as wipes and sanitary products being flushed down the toilet. Jean sees first-hand the impact of this at the Ringsend plant, which sees over 60 tonnes of wipes, sanitary products and other non-flushable items removed from the screens at the plant every month. Jean is project managing the upgrade of the plant which will be completed in 2025.
Elaine Doyle is Think Before You Flush Campaign Officer at Clean Coasts. Elaine has been working in the environmental sector for over 15 years, with experience ranging from manufacturing engineering to waste management to environmental education. Elaine has been the driving force behind Clean Coasts’ Think Before You Flush campaign since 2016, a behavioural change campaign educating people on what they can and can’t flush down the toilet.
Speaking about the importance of the Think Before You Flush campaign and the Ringsend project, Jean Hobbs said: “Having adequate wastewater treatment infrastructure is essential to safeguard the environment and to facilitate housing and commercial development. Irish Water is investing over €500 million in the upgrade of Ringsend wastewater treatment plant, the largest treatment plant in Ireland, treating 40% of Ireland’s wastewater load. The plant is operating over capacity; with average daily loads in the region of 1.9 million population. The upgrade will expand the capacity of plant to 2.4 million and is scheduled to be completed in 2025”.
Jean continued: “We all have a role to play in safeguarding our environment and wastewater infrastructure. In Ringsend we remove approximately 60 tonnes of wipes, sanitary products and other items from the screens at the inlet to the wastewater treatment plant every month. It is important to ‘Think Before You Flush’, only the 3 Ps; pee; poo and paper should be flushed down the toilet and everything else should go in the bin!”

More information about the Think Before You Flush campaign can be found at www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org.

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Issued Monday, 01 February 2021 – In the lead up to Valentine’s Day, Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water and the Think Before You Flush campaign, are asking you to share your plastic-free love story. We want to hear from people who have ended their relationship with a single-use plastic item they thought they could not live without and found a new more sustainable love. And who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one inspiring someone else to #BreakUpWithPlastic too!

Ireland is the number one plastic waste producer in the European Union, with 54kg of plastic waste per person produced each year, as well as being the country with the fourth lowest recycling rate. Over the past few years, with the #BreakUpWithPlastic initiative, Clean Coasts are raising awareness about the impact of plastic pollution on our planet and marine environment and asking people to stop opting for single-use plastic.

Ireland has some of the most diverse and spectacular coastlines in the world. However, an excessive use of plastic is not only polluting Irish oceans and seas, but it is also threatening our marine wildlife and people’s health. According to Ocean Conservancy’s Coastal Cleanup Report 2020, the most common items found on the Irish Coast were plastic food wrappers, cigarette butts and plastic beverage bottles.

This February, Clean Coasts are joined by the Think Before You Flush campaign to raise awareness regarding the flushing of unsuitable items down the toilet. Think Before You Flush is a public awareness campaign addressing the issue of flushing items such as wipes, cotton buds, dental floss and sanitary products, down the toilet. Many of these items contain plastic, and as well as blocking our wastewater systems, they can contribute to plastic pollution in our oceans, littering our coasts and causing serious harm to our marine life if disposed of incorrectly.

One item Think Before You Flush aims to raise awareness of is the wet wipe. The common misconception that wet wipes can be flushed, even if labelled ‘flushable’, causes blockages in our network, pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants. These items can also end up on our beaches. Many wet wipes contain plastics which can break down into microplastics, causing damage to our marine environment. This Valentine’s Day, Think Before You Flush are asking you to #BreakUpWithPlastic and say goodbye to single-use wipes. When this isn’t possible, make sure you ‘love your loo’ and dispose of them properly in the bin, and never down the toilet.

Speaking about the campaign, Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts said: “This year Clean Coasts want to hear your good news stories of how you have been able to break up with single use plastic. We realise it can be difficult to make the break from single use, especially with all that is going on, so for anybody starting the journey towards new, reusable, long-lasting loves, we have tips and hints on our website to get you started.”

Talking about the size and scale of the problem associated with flushing the wrong things down the toilet, Tom Cuddy, Irish Water said, “Everyday people flush thousands of items such as wet wipes down the toilet instead of simply putting them in the bin. This causes blockages in our network, pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants. Recent studies have found that 4 out of 10 people admit to flushing wipes down the toilet. It is no surprise therefore that we are clearing approximately 2,000 blockages from our wastewater network every month. A significant proportion of which are caused by wipes.”

Tom continued, “People are using more wipes than ever to keep hands and surfaces clean. While it is critical that we follow the HSE guidance, it is important that we dispose of items like wipes correctly. A simple solution is to only flush the 3 P’s – pee, poo and paper down the toilet and throw wipes and other sanitary products in the bin. In the lead up to Valentine’s Day, Think Before You Flush are asking you #BreakUpWithPlastic and bin your wipes.”

To encourage people to ‘break-up with plastic’, Clean Coasts and Think Before You Flush are giving away three personalised plastic-free hampers, as well as a custom laser-engraved Ecoset refillable bottle and tumbler gift set. To be in with a chance to win, visit our social media channels and share your ‘love story’ of how you’ve fallen in love with a plastic-free solution or product, and how your love has helped you #BreakUpWithPlastic.

Find out more at www.cleancoasts.org and www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org or find us on social media @CleanCoasts.

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Irish Water deals with 2,000 sewer blockages caused by wipes every month

Issued Thursday, 19 November 2020: To launch the fifth year of the Think Before You Flush campaign, Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water are inviting the public to join the celebration of World Toilet Day on Thursday November 19. The United Nations’ World Toilet Day celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people worldwide living without access to safely managed sanitation. It is about taking action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

The Think Before You Flush campaign highlights the problems caused by flushing items such as wipes and cotton buds down the toilet. Research has found that 30 percent of people living in Ireland admit to flushing items such as wipes and cotton buds down the toilet, causing detrimental effects on the wastewater network and the marine environment. Every month Irish Water clears approximately 2,000 blockages from the wastewater network. About 75 percent of blockages are caused by inappropriate items such as wipes and sanitary products being flushed down the toilet. As a result of COVID-19, people are using more wipes than ever to keep hands and surfaces clean. While it is critical that we follow the HSE guidance on hand-washing and coughing etiquette, it is important that we dispose of items like wipes correctly. A simple solution is to dispose of wipes, cotton buds and other sanitary products in the bin and to only flush the 3 P’s – pee, poo and paper down the toilet.

On World Toilet Day, Clean Coasts are reminding people that our actions at home can help to keep our beaches clean. To spread awareness and celebrate World Toilet Day, Clean Coasts are running an online competition to win a year’s supply of sustainable toilet paper. Competition details on available on @TheUselessProject and @CleanCoasts Instagram pages.

Speaking about the campaign Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts Officer said: “The Think Before You Flush campaign was set up as a result of finding sewage related waste such as wipes on Irish beaches. 80 percent of marine litter originates from inland sources. Something as simple as a wipe can travel from a flushed toilet to the ocean and finally the beach possibly causing blockages and damage to marine life as it makes its journey. We are delighted to partner with Irish Water to spread this important message. Simply put a bin in your bathroom and always #thinkb4uflush”.

Talking about the size and scale of the problem associated with flushing the wrong things down the toilet, Tom Cuddy, Irish Water said, “Every day people flush thousands of sanitary items such as wet wipes and cotton buds down the toilet instead of simply putting them in the bin. This causes blockages in our network, pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants. We clear approximately 2,000 blockages from our wastewater network every month.

Tom continued “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Clean Coasts to deliver this important campaign together. We would like to thank the public for their ongoing support in the ‘Think Before You Flush’ campaign and together with Clean Coasts shine a light on the importance of World Toilet Day”.

Whilst ‘Think Before You Flush’ is a national campaign that is promoted across the country, every year we work with numerous communities including businesses and schools to deliver educational workshops and engage the local residents in the campaign.

More information about the Think Before You Flush campaign can be found at www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org

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As restrictions are easing and more people are visiting our beaches Clean Coasts are reminding the public to ‘Think Before You Flush’ and to dispose of all wipes in the bin and not down the toilet. It is important to remember that our actions at home can help to keep our beaches clean. The Think Before You Flush campaign is operated by Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water. Our message is simple, only the 3 Ps – pee, poo and paper – should be flushed down the toilet. All other waste, such as wipes and kitchen roll, should go in the bin to avoid it becoming marine litter, or blockages in our home and wastewater network.

People are using more wipes than ever to keep hands and surfaces clean and to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While it is critical that we follow the HSE guidance on hand-washing and coughing etiquette it is important that we dispose of tissues and wipes correctly.

Speaking about the appeal, Sinead Mc Coy, Clean Coasts said, “We understand everyone’s focus is to keep safe and healthy and that there is an increase in using wipes in the home However, there is a way people can help keep the marine environment clean also. By making sure wipes are put in the bin and not in the toilet, people can help keep our waters and coasts safe, clean and healthy too.”

Speaking about the appeal Tom Cuddy, Irish Water said, “Irish Water and our Local Authority partners clear hundreds of blockages every week and we are seeing an increase in the amount of wipes arriving at our treatment plants.  All wipes should be disposed of in the bin even wipes that are labelled as ‘flushable’. It is really important that the public help us to manage the network at this time by simply binning all wipes, gloves and masks and to only ever flush the 3 Ps (pee, poo and paper).”

To find out more about the Think Before You Flush campaign please visit the campaign website http://thinkbeforeyouflush.org/

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For a third year, Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water are running Think Before You Flush, a campaign aiming to tackle the problem of sewage related litter on Ireland’s beaches. It is a public awareness campaign about the problem sanitary products and other items can cause in our marine environment and our waste water systems if they are flushed down the toilet.

Not only does this campaign aim to raise awareness at a national level, there is also a strong emphasis on empowering communities directly to tackle the issues caused by sewage related litter. Bundoran became Donegal’s first Think Before You Flush community towards the end of 2018 joining 14 other communities around the country.

Since then a strong partnership between local Clean Coasts Officer, Bundoran Tidy Towns, Discover Bundoran and Donegal County Council has led the campaign from strength to strength with a large number of businesses adopting the campaign. The work continues with workshops for local schools including Magh Ene College and Four Masters NS, Kinlough as well as several projects and events with local community groups and individuals.

This fantastic effort by the Bundoran community, has brought together some of the local stakeholders to celebrate World Water Day on 22nd March 2019 and the achievements of the campaign so far.

“Bundoran has become a true ambassador for the Think Before You Flush campaign in Donegal. It is a wonderful example of the power of community action to create change. A special thanks should be given to our Clean Coasts Groups Bundoran Tidy Towns and Discover Bundoran for being true leaders in the community for this campaign,” says Beckey-Finn Britton, Clean Coasts Officer for Donegal and Leitrim.

Micheal McMahon, Chairperson of Bundoran Tidy Towns added, “we were delighted to become one of the ambassador communities for the Think Before You Flush campaign. We are also thankful to the number of local businesses who have engaged with us by committing to display the promotional materials on their premises. Being a seaside town it’s of utmost importance that both locals and visitors alike are aware of what they can and cannot flush down the toilet, ultimately affecting the quality of the water that rely on so much for our tourism product here in the town.”

David Friel, Coastal Officer for Donegal County Council said of the Think Before You Flush campaign, “It’s very appropriate that we are gathered here in Bundoran on World Water Day and encouraging locals, businesses and visitors to think before they flush. It’s heartening to see the amount of businesses who have embraced this campaign and who want to see their waters remain clean and safe for bathers, surfers and recreational users for this and many more seasons to come. For Bundoran to be chosen as the first Think Before You Flush community in the county is a testament to the trust that is placed in the community to ensure the natural amenity of the Atlantic Ocean is kept as clean and litter free as possible. We look forward to many more communities in the county joining Bundoran to think before they flush.”

Siobhan Sheil, Irish Water, added: “We’re urging all residents and visitors to Bundoran to ‘Think Before You Flush’, and to be mindful of the significant negative impact flushing inappropriate items can have on homes, businesses, the wastewater network, and the marine environment. Last year, there were more than 6,000 sewer blockages across the country. The size and scale of the impact of flushing the wrong items down the toilet is incredible. Irish Water has invested in wastewater infrastructure here in Bundoran and as a result has put a stop to the discharge of the equivalent of 9,600 wheelie bins of raw sewage per day into the sea. However, it is still really important that people recognise the impact of what they flush so the network can function efficiently and effectively. Placing a bin in the bathroom and disposing of sanitary items safely and appropriately has a hugely positive impact on the network and the environment.”

 

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Clean Coasts

Clean Coasts Ireland is owned and operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland. It is funded by the Department of the Housing, Planning and Local Government and Fáilte Ireland. It engages over 800 Clean Coasts groups and thousands of beach users. The Green Coast award is also part of the Clean Coasts programme and is an award for beaches that have excellent water quality but may not have the necessary built infrastructure to be eligible for the Blue Flag award.

www.cleancoasts.org

Irish Water

Irish Water (www.water.ie) is the new national water utility responsible for providing and developing water services throughout Ireland.  Incorporated in July 2013 as a semi-state company under the Water Services Act 2013, Irish Water will bring the water and waste water services of the 31 Local Authorities together under one national service provider. The purpose of Irish Water is to safeguard water as a precious natural resource and to deliver water services in a way that protects the environment and meets the needs of all citizens and industry now and in the future.

Irish Water will be accountable to two regulatory bodies – the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) which is the economic regulator for the water industry, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which is the environmental regulator.

Irish Water is a registered subsidiary company of Ervia (www.ervia.ie)

(18 October 2018) Clean Coasts together with Irish Water are launching the third year of the Think Before You Flush campaign as the utility reveals that there has been an estimated 4,600 sewer blockages across the country this year due to inappropriate items being flushed down toilets.

When the 3 Ps (pee, poo and paper) are flushed down the toilet they travel along the sewer network to wastewater treatment plants. However, every day people flush thousands of items such as wet wipes, cotton bud sticks, nappies and cotton wool pads down the toilet instead of putting them in a bin. Flushing these items can have a negative impact on internal plumbing in homes and businesses, the wastewater network and our marine environment.

This year, 15 communities across the country have been selected to become Think Before You Flush Communities. Clean Coasts together with Irish Water will be delivering educational workshops in schools; promoting the campaign at festivals and community events; and working with local businesses to help to raise awareness and provide advice.

The 15 Think Before You Flush Communities are; Dublin City; Blackrock, Co. Louth; Navan, Co. Meath; Maynooth, Co. Kildare; Tullamore, Co. Offaly; Cork City; Dunmanway, Co. Cork; Bantry, Co. Cork; Tramore, Co. Waterford; Waterford City; Galway City; Ahascraugh, Co. Galway; Strandhill, Co. Sligo; Bellmullet, Co. Mayo; and Bundoran, Co. Donegal.

Speaking about the campaign Corporate Affairs Manager of Irish Water and Engineer Kate Gannon said, “Irish Water is delighted to partner with Clean Coasts on this important educational campaign. Irish Water estimate that there have been over 4,600 sewer blockages across the country this year already. The size and scale of the impact of flushing the wrong items down the toilet is incredible.”

 

“Irish Water is investing in wastewater infrastructure right across the country. We are building new wastewater treatment plants, upgrading old plants and laying new sewers. However, it is still really important that people recognise the impact of what they flush so the network can function efficiently and effectively. Placing a bin in the bathroom and disposing of sanitary items safely and appropriately has a hugely positive impact on the network and the environment.”

Speaking about the campaign; Sinead Mc Coy, Clean Coasts Manager added, “Sewage related litter is one of the categories of waste we find on our beaches however its presence is preventable through some simple measures. Through this campaign we are working with Irish Water to change the nation’s flushing behaviour which will make a difference to our coastal environment.”

 

For more information about ‘Think Before You Flush’ please visit www.thinkbeforyouflush.org

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For media queries:

Irish Water please contact press@water.ie or by phone 087 145 8896

Clean Coasts please contact 01 400 2200

There are a number of educational animations relating to the Think Before You Flush campaign available on the Clean Coasts Youtube channel

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8uzdo-8foRs

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZawTJ_zdj_Q

3rd year launch of the Think Before You Flush campaign

Year 2 of the ‘Think Before You Flush’ Communities marks the introduction of 9 new community initiatives
Is your community on the list?

Today, 25th January, Clean Coasts partnered with Irish Water, for the second year running, launch the ‘Think Before You Flush’ Community Initiative.  This programme aims to tackle the problems sanitary products can cause our waste water network and marine environment if flushed down the toilet.

As part of the Initiative, educational workshops for schools and businesses as well as community information events will be held to raise awareness of sewage related littering and change poor flushing behaviour.

In 2015, the ‘Think Before You Flush’ campaign focused on a community initiative in Galway City.  Due to its great success this year 8 more communities from across the country are now actively involved. These communities will work with Clean Coasts and Irish Water to increase awareness of sewage related litter.

The ‘Think Before You Flush’ Communities for 2017 are:

1.    Galway City

2.    Balbriggan, Dublin

3.    Ballycotton, Cork

4.    Birr, Offaly

5.    Wexford Town, Wexford

6.    Dingle, Kerry

7.    Bettystown, Meath

8.    Virginia, Cavan

9.    Tramore, Waterford

Sanitary items such as cotton bud sticks, face/baby wipes and those items we term as our ‘Dirty Dozen’ should not be flushed down the toilet, entering our waste water treatment network, which is unable to deal with this type of waste. In a study of over 1000 Irish people, a shocking 3 in 10 admitted to flushing such items down the toilet. Of these, 58% admitted to flushing baby wipes down the toilet, 40% facial wipes, 26% cotton bud sticks, 24% tampons and 21% cigarette butts. More than half of those who flush these items down the toilet did so simply due to a lack of knowledge. Sewage related litter is one of the largest categories of litter found on our beaches and is considered to be the most offensive.

90% of those surveyed agreed that seeing sewage related litter during a visit to the beach would disgust them while 84% of those surveyed agreed that if they knew that the items flushed down the toilet could end up being discharged into the ocean and could pollute our coastline and cause potential health risks they would not dispose of items in this way. This type of marine litter is totally preventable by simply changing our flushing behaviour.

Speaking about the expansion of the Think Before You Flush initiative to 9 Communities Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager, An Taisce said, “The Think Before You Flush campaign increases education and awareness about sewage related litter, enabling people to realise the consequence of their simple bathroom routine, and preventing items like cotton bud sticks washing up on Ireland’s spectacular beaches.

Grainne Carey, Regional Information Specialist, Irish Water said, “By making small changes in our flushing behaviour we can prevent the harm caused by sewage related litter in the marine environment. Irish Water is investing significantly in improvements to wastewater infrastructure across the country and by partnering with Clean Coasts and local communities around the country we aim to develop an holistic approach to ensure our beaches and other receiving waters, are safe and protected.’’

For more information about Think Before You Flush please visit www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org

An animation showing the impact of sewage related litter is also available on the Clean Coasts YouTube channel: http://youtu.be/8uzdo-8foRs and on www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org

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Marine Litter

Marine Litter includes a range of materials which have been deliberately discarded, or accidentally lost on shore or at sea. It includes materials that are carried out to sea from land, rivers, drainage, sewage systems and even by the wind.

Sewage Related Litter

Sewage Related Litter is made up of sanitary products and other items that are flushed down public and private toilets and end up littering inland and coastal waterways. Such litter typically consists of cotton bud sticks, sanitary towels, backing strips, tampons, plastic tampon applicators, cotton wool, condoms, cigarette stubs, facial cleansing wipes, baby wipes and toilet fresheners. Less common items include nappies, plasters, medicines and toilet roll tubes.

Sewage related litter enters the sewer system but this system is not designed to process them. Smaller items that are flushed, such as cotton buds, can escape through wastewater filters at the treatment plant and reach our rivers and beaches. Many other dangerous and unsuitable items are also incorrectly disposed of through the toilet into the sewage system, such as razor blades, healthcare waste and medicine. This can end up on our waterways and beaches.

Summary of Our Nation’s Flushing Behaviour Survey
Clean Coasts commissioned a survey of the nation’s flushing behaviour. We wanted to find out; Who disposes of waste in this manner?; What Sewage Related Litter) items do they dispose of?; Why do people flush items down the toilet?; What can be done to encourage a change in behaviour?

We wanted to understand the nation’s flushing behaviour and to do this we used the following metrics:

  • Incidence levels within the Irish population of sewage-related littering;
  • Reasons for littering in this way;
  • Awareness of the implications of disposing of litter in this manner;
  • Attitudes towards sewage-related littering

Who was surveyed?

1,033 adults aged 18+ were interviewed. Quotas were set and final data weighted to known national profiles of adults aged 18+ on age, gender, class and region to ensure that the sample is representative of the total Irish population.

What did we find out?

  • 3 in 10 Irish adults have flushed items other than toilet paper down the toilet. This figure is higher among those under 35.
  • Lack of knowledge is the primary reason for sewage-related littering among those who do so. The destructive nature of such behaviour is not common knowledge. 52% of sewage relating littering is a consequence of lack of knowledge.
    • 40% thought it was ok to do so
    • 33% did so for convenience
    • 26% said it was only a small item
    • 20% said there was no bin available
    • 18% said it was too messy to dispose of in an alternative way
    • 15% said it was out of habit
    • 1 in 4 believe these items are chemically broken down
    • 1 in 2 thinking they just disintegrate following flushing.
  • The top items incorrectly disposed of are:
    • Baby wipes 58%
    • Facial wipes 40%
    • Cotton buds 26%
    • Tampons 24%
    • Cigarette butts 21%
    • Plasters 18%
    • Condoms 18%
    • Food 15%
    • Medicines 12%
    • Sanitary pads 6%
    • Tampon applicators 5%
    • Toilet roll tube 4%
    • Nappies 2%
    • Cotton wool 1%
    • Dental floss 1%
  • 6 in 10 stated that they have flushed baby products down the toilet, with baby wipes being the number one item cited by all adults – this figure is slightly higher among women.
  • Female hygiene products are only mentioned by 3 in 10 of our total sample rising to over 1 in 2 for females only.
  • Males on the other hand over-index on disposing of cotton buds, cigarettes, plasters and condoms.

What are people’s attitudes to sewage related littering?

  • 90% agreed – Seeing sewage related litter during a visit to the beach in Ireland would disgust me”
  • 90% agreed – “We need more education about where items other than toilet paper which are flushed down the toilet end up to make sure that less people dispose of waste in this way”
  • 84% agreed – “If I knew that the items flushed down the toilet could end up being discharged in to the ocean and could pollute our coastline and cause potential health risks I would not dispose of items in this way”
  • 78% agreed – “Flushing items other than toilet paper down the toilet damages our environment”
  • 12% agreed – “Flushing items other than toilet paper down the toilet is acceptable”

When it comes to encouraging people not to engage in sewage-related littering, 1 in 4 of the total sample suggest demonstrating the consequences of such behaviour is the way to go, with 1 in 3 who have done so endorsing this option.

Clean Coasts

Clean Coasts Ireland is owned and operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland. It is funded by the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government, Coca-Cola and Fáilte Ireland. It has been operating in Ireland for 13 years and engages +500 Clean Coasts groups and thousands of beach users. The Green Coast award is also part of the Clean Coasts programme and is an award for beaches that have excellent water quality but may not have the necessary built infrastructure to be eligible for the Blue Flag award. www.cleancoasts.org

Irish Water

Irish Water (www.water.ie) is the national water utility responsible for providing and developing water services throughout Ireland.  Incorporated in July 2013 as a semi-state company under the Water Services Act 2013, Irish Water is bringing the water and waste water services of 31 Local Authorities together under one national service provider. The purpose of Irish Water is to safeguard water as a precious natural resource and to deliver water services in a way that protects the environment and meets the needs of all citizens and industry now and in the future.

Irish Water is accountable to two regulatory bodies – the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) which is the economic regulator for the water industry, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which is the environmental regulator.

Irish Water is a registered subsidiary company of Ervia (www.ervia.ie)

It’s World Toilet Day
Time to cast your vote!

Cast your vote on World Toilet Day, 19th November! Today is the final day for the public to vote for the Peoples Choice category in the ‘Think Before You Flush’ Third Level Video Competition. The video with the most views at 5pm today, World Toilet Day will be awarded the coveted People Choice Award. Winner will be announced shortly after 5pm.

Shortlist videos can be viewed here: http://thinkbeforeyouflush.org/think-flush-video-competition-2016/

Clean Coasts are delighted to announce the shortlist for the ‘Think Before You Flush’ Third Level Video Competition, supported by Irish Water. The competition asked third level students to create a video that ties into our ‘Think Before You Flush’ and ‘Think Before You Pour’ campaigns. Entrants competed over a €2,250.00 prize fund, with prizes being awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, as well as a People’s Choice award.

Think Before You Flush’ is a public awareness campaign about the problem sanitary products and other items can cause in our marine environment and our wastewater systems if they are flushed down the toilet.

1st, 2nd and 3rd Place will be decided by a panel of judges and will be announced at the Clean Coasts Symposium and Ocean Hero Awards on the 1st December. The People Choice winner will also be awarded on this day.

For more information about ‘Think Before You Flush’ campaign please visit www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org

Ends///

Marine Litter

Marine Litter includes a range of materials which have been deliberately discarded, or accidentally lost on shore or at sea. It includes materials that are carried out to sea from land, rivers, drainage, sewage systems and even by the wind.

Summary of Our Nation’s Flushing Behaviour Survey

Clean Coasts commissioned a survey of the nation’s flushing behaviour. We wanted to find out; Who disposes of waste in this manner?; What Sewage Related Litter) items do they dispose of?; Why do people flush items down the toilet?; What can be done to encourage a change in behaviour?

We wanted to understand the nation’s flushing behaviour and to do this we used the following metrics:

  • Incidence levels within the Irish population of sewage-related littering;
  • Reasons for littering in this way;
  • Awareness of the implications of disposing of litter in this manner;
  • Attitudes towards sewage-related littering

Who was surveyed?

1,033 adults aged 18+ were interviewed. Quotas were set and final data weighted to known national profiles of adults aged 18+ on age, gender, class and region to ensure that the sample is representative of the total Irish population.

What did we find out?

  • 3 in 10 Irish adults have flushed items other than toilet paper down the toilet. This figure is higher among those under 35.
  • Lack of knowledge is the primary reason for sewage-related littering among those who do so. The destructive nature of such behaviour is not common knowledge. 52% of sewage relating littering is a consequence of lack of knowledge.
    • 40% thought it was ok to do so
    • 33% did so for convenience
    • 26% said it was only a small item
    • 20% said there was no bin available
    • 18% said it was too messy to dispose of in an alternative way
    • 15% said it was out of habit
    • 1 in 4 believe these items are chemically broken down
    • 1 in 2 thinking they just disintegrate following flushing.
  • The top items incorrectly disposed of are:
    • Baby wipes 58%
    • Facial wipes 40%
    • Cotton buds 26%
    • Tampons 24%
    • Cigarette butts 21%
    • Plasters 18%
    • Condoms 18%
    • Food 15%
    • Medicines 12%
    • Sanitary pads 6%
    • Tampon applicators 5%
    • Toilet roll tube 4%
    • Nappies 2%
    • Cotton wool 1%
    • Dental floss 1%
  • 6 in 10 stated that they have flushed baby products down the toilet, with baby wipes being the number one item cited by all adults – this figure is slightly higher among women.
  • Female hygiene products are only mentioned by 3 in 10 of our total sample rising to over 1 in 2 for females only.
  • Males on the other hand over-index on disposing of cotton buds, cigarettes, plasters and condoms.

What are people’s attitudes to sewage related littering?

  • 90% agreed – Seeing sewage related litter during a visit to the beach in Ireland would disgust me
  • 90% agreed – “We need more education about where items other than toilet paper which are flushed down the toilet end up to make sure that less people dispose of waste in this way”
  • 84% agreed – “If I knew that the items flushed down the toilet could end up being discharged in to the ocean and could pollute our coastline and cause potential health risks I would not dispose of items in this way”
  • 78% agreed – “Flushing items other than toilet paper down the toilet damages our environment”
  • 12% agreed – “Flushing items other than toilet paper down the toilet is acceptable” 

When it comes to encouraging people not to engage in sewage-related littering, 1 in 4 of the total sample suggest demonstrating the consequences of such behaviour is the way to go, with 1 in 3 who have done so endorsing this option.

Clean Coasts

Clean Coasts Ireland is owned and operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland. It is funded by the Department of the Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Coca-Cola and Fáilte Ireland. It engages over 500 Clean Coasts groups and thousands of beach users. The Green Coast award is also part of the Clean Coasts programme and is an award for beaches that have excellent water quality but may not have the necessary built infrastructure to be eligible for the Blue Flag award. www.cleancoasts.org

Irish Water

Irish Water (www.water.ie) is the new national water utility responsible for providing and developing water services throughout Ireland.  Incorporated in July 2013 as a semi-state company under the Water Services Act 2013, Irish Water will bring the water and waste water services of the 31 Local Authorities together under one national service provider. The purpose of Irish Water is to safeguard water as a precious natural resource and to deliver water services in a way that protects the environment and meets the needs of all citizens and industry now and in the future.

Irish Water will be accountable to two regulatory bodies – the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) which is the economic regulator for the water industry, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which is the environmental regulator.

Irish Water is a registered subsidiary company of Ervia (www.ervia.ie)

11th December 2015: Clean Coasts are delighted to announce the winners of the ‘Think Before You Flush’ Third Level Video Competition, supported by Irish Water. The competition asked third level students to create a video that ties into our new ‘Think Before You Flush’ campaign. Entrants competed over a €2,250.00 prize fund

Think Before You Flush’ is a public awareness campaign about the problem sanitary products and other items can cause in our marine environment and our wastewater systems if they are flushed down the toilet.

The difficult task of judging this year’s competition was undertaken by Micheal John O’Mahoney – Director, Environmental Education Unit, An Taisce, Deirdre O’Caroll – Green Campus Manager, An Taisce, Annabel Fitzgerald – Irish Water, Roisin Bradford – Irish Water, Mary O’Brien – Irish Water, Beckey Finn Britton – Digital and Social Media Officer, Clean Coasts, An Taisce. The people choice award was award to the view which received the most views during the 1st – 10th December on the Clean Coasts YouTube channel.

Winners 2015

Award Name College Video link
1st Place Ferdia Sean Mooney DCU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q0SsiGtmgY
2nd Place Catriona Smiddy UCC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y5SIDwRAMk
3rd Place Zac Milofsky NCAD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBKLdA9MtCM
People Choice Award Corey McLaughlin DCU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcAJf_FHR-I

For more information about ‘Think Before You Flush’ campaign please visit www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org

Ends///

Marine Litter

Marine Litter includes a range of materials which have been deliberately discarded, or accidentally lost on shore or at sea. It includes materials that are carried out to sea from land, rivers, drainage, sewage systems and even by the wind.

Summary of Our Nation’s Flushing Behaviour Survey

Clean Coasts commissioned a survey of the nation’s flushing behaviour. We wanted to find out; Who disposes of waste in this manner?; What Sewage Related Litter) items do they dispose of?; Why do people flush items down the toilet?; What can be done to encourage a change in behaviour?

We wanted to understand the nation’s flushing behaviour and to do this we used the following metrics:

  • Incidence levels within the Irish population of sewage-related littering;
  • Reasons for littering in this way;
  • Awareness of the implications of disposing of litter in this manner;
  • Attitudes towards sewage-related littering

Who was surveyed?

1,033 adults aged 18+ were interviewed. Quotas were set and final data weighted to known national profiles of adults aged 18+ on age, gender, class and region to ensure that the sample is representative of the total Irish population.

What did we find out?

  • 3 in 10 Irish adults have flushed items other than toilet paper down the toilet. This figure is higher among those under 35.
  • Lack of knowledge is the primary reason for sewage-related littering among those who do so. The destructive nature of such behaviour is not common knowledge. 52% of sewage relating littering is a consequence of lack of knowledge.
    • 40% thought it was ok to do so
    • 33% did so for convenience
    • 26% said it was only a small item
    • 20% said there was no bin available
    • 18% said it was too messy to dispose of in an alternative way
    • 15% said it was out of habit
    • 1 in 4 believe these items are chemically broken down
    • 1 in 2 thinking they just disintegrate following flushing.
  • The top items incorrectly disposed of are:
    • Baby wipes 58%
    • Facial wipes 40%
    • Cotton buds 26%
    • Tampons 24%
    • Cigarette butts 21%
    • Plasters 18%
    • Condoms 18%
    • Food 15%
    • Medicines 12%
    • Sanitary pads 6%
    • Tampon applicators 5%
    • Toilet roll tube 4%
    • Nappies 2%
    • Cotton wool 1%
    • Dental floss 1%
  • 6 in 10 stated that they have flushed baby products down the toilet, with baby wipes being the number one item cited by all adults – this figure is slightly higher among women.
  • Female hygiene products are only mentioned by 3 in 10 of our total sample rising to over 1 in 2 for females only.
  • Males on the other hand over-index on disposing of cotton buds, cigarettes, plasters and condoms. 

What are people’s attitudes to sewage related littering?

  • 90% agreed – Seeing sewage related litter during a visit to the beach in Ireland would disgust me
  • 90% agreed – “We need more education about where items other than toilet paper which are flushed down the toilet end up to make sure that less people dispose of waste in this way”
  • 84% agreed – “If I knew that the items flushed down the toilet could end up being discharged in to the ocean and could pollute our coastline and cause potential health risks I would not dispose of items in this way”
  • 78% agreed – “Flushing items other than toilet paper down the toilet damages our environment”
  • 12% agreed – “Flushing items other than toilet paper down the toilet is acceptable”

When it comes to encouraging people not to engage in sewage-related littering, 1 in 4 of the total sample suggest demonstrating the consequences of such behaviour is the way to go, with 1 in 3 who have done so endorsing this option.

Clean Coasts

Clean Coasts Ireland is owned and operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland. It is funded by the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government, Coca-Cola and Fáilte Ireland. It has been operating in Ireland for 11 years and engages 437 Clean Coasts groups and thousands of beach users. The Green Coast award is also part of the Clean Coasts programme and is an award for beaches that have excellent water quality but may not have the necessary built infrastructure to be eligible for the Blue Flag award. www.cleancoasts.org

Irish Water

Irish Water (www.water.ie) is the new national water utility responsible for providing and developing water services throughout Ireland. Incorporated in July 2013 as a semi-state company under the Water Services Act 2013, Irish Water will bring the water and waste water services of the 31 Local Authorities together under one national service provider. The purpose of Irish Water is to safeguard water as a precious natural resource and to deliver water services in a way that protects the environment and meets the needs of all citizens and industry now and in the future.

Irish Water will be accountable to two regulatory bodies – the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) which is the economic regulator for the water industry, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which is the environmental regulator.

Irish Water is a registered subsidiary company of Ervia (www.ervia.ie)

Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water launch ‘Think Before You Flush’ in Galway and present Ocean Hero Award to Local School

19 November, Galway: Clean Coasts, in partnership with Irish Water are launching the Think Before You Flush Community Initiative in Galway to tackle the problems sanitary products can cause in our wastewater network and our marine environment if they are flushed down the toilet.

Every day people flush thousands of sanitary items such as baby wipes and cotton bud sticks down the toilet instead of simply putting them in the bin. Other items that are frequently flushed down the toilet include cigarette butts and plasters.

In a study of over 1000 Irish people, 3 in 10 admitted to flushing such items down the toilet. Of these, 58% admitted to flushing baby wipes down the toilet, 40% facial wipes, 26% cotton bud sticks, 24% tampons and 21% cigarette butts. More than half of those who flush these items down the toilet did so simply due to a lack of knowledge.

Speaking at the launch of ‘Think Before You Flush’ Community Initiative in Galway, Beckey Finn Britton, Coastal Programmes Officer An Taisce said, “The Think Before You Flush campaign through education and awareness aims to prevent items like wet wipes clogging our wastewater network and cotton bud sticks washing up on our beaches.” She added that, “I am looking forward to helping to make Galway Ireland’s first Think Before You Flush community”

Irish Water also presented the Think Before You Flush Ocean Hero Award to Meanscoil Mhuire, Galway City for their project called Wet Wipe Hype. The prestigious Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Awards are awarded to groups and individuals to acknowledge their efforts in protecting our marine environment.

“Irish Water is delighted to support this important environmental education initiative that highlights the importance of protecting our coastal environment and we are delighted to award Meanscoil Mhuire in Galway with the Think Before You Flush Ocean Hero Award for their efforts in raising awareness about the problems wet wipes can cause when they are flushed down the toilet”, said Sean Corrigan Irish Waters Regional Information Officer, Irish Water. He added that, “Irish Water is prioritising investment in improving wastewater treatment in areas around the country that have been without proper wastewater treatment for many years. We are fortunate to have such a magnificent coastline in Ireland and a really high quality marine environment and the investment we are making in the coming years will ensure this is protected”

The joint presentation by An Taisce and Irish Water co-incided with World Toilet Day, an international initiative to highlight the plight of millions of people around the world who do not have access to a toilet or proper sanitation, and the urgent need to end this sanitation crisis. Clean and safe sanitation ensures health, dignity and well-being, yet 40% of the world’s population does not have access to toilets.

For more information please visit www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org

Ends //

Editors Notes

Think Before You Flush Ocean Hero Award Winner Meanscoil Mhuire – Wet Wipe Hype Project

Students from transition year launched an awareness campaign highlighting the issue of flushing wet wipes down the toilet.   The project came about following an interest taken by a former Transition Year class who, during a beach clean two years earlier, discovered a large number of wet wipes entangled in seaweed on a local beach. The students decided to carry out an awareness survey based on the flushing habits of students in the school. They found that 51% of students regularly flushed wet wipes down the toilet and 55% did not know the results of flushing wet wipes. These results led to the development of awareness workshops to be given to students by students. A follow up survey revealed 87% of students who attended the workshop agreed to stop flushing the wipes. The students carried out a further study of the beach which was initially cleaned. They found an average 60 wet wipes washed up per square metre, equivalent to one standard pack of wipes. This resulted in the commencement of a social and local media campaign highlighting the issue. The students also visited a local primary school to inform them about the issue and filmed an awareness video clip for Clean Coasts.

Do you Think Before You Flush?

Launch of New Animation to get the Nation Thinking

Today, 15th June, Clean Coasts and Irish Water launched the Think Before You Flush Animation which is part of the Think Before You Flush campaign to tackle one of the largest categories of marine litter found on Ireland’s beaches, sewage related litter.

The animation shows the affect of sewage related waste has on our coastal environment and marine life. It also shows examples of what is currently being flushed by people in Ireland, which according to a recent study of over 1,000 Irish people includes baby wipes, cotton bud sticks, cigarette butts and plasters.

With more than half of those who flush these items down the toilet doing so simply due to a lack of knowledge, the animation aims to provide people with a better understanding of the problem sanitary products and other items can cause in our marine environment and our wastewater systems if they are flushed down the toilet; as well as encouraging the nation to bin such items instead of flushing them.

You can find the Think Before You Flush animation and more information on this public awareness campaign at www.thinkbeforeyouflush.org.

The animation is also available on the Clean Coasts YouTube channel: http://youtu.be/8uzdo-8foRs

Ends///

Sewage Related Litter

Sewage Related Litter is made up of sanitary products and other items that are flushed down public and private toilets and end up littering inland and coastal waterways. Such litter typically consists of cotton bud sticks, sanitary towels, backing strips, tampons, plastic tampon applicators, cotton wool, condoms, cigarette stubs, facial cleansing wipes, baby wipes and toilet fresheners. Less common items include nappies, plasters, medicines and toilet roll tubes.

Sewage related litter enters the sewer system but this system is not designed to process them. Smaller items that are flushed, such as cotton buds, can escape through wastewater filters at the treatment plant and reach our rivers and beaches. Many other dangerous and unsuitable items are also incorrectly disposed of through the toilet into the sewage system, such as razor blades, healthcare waste and medicine. This can end up on our waterways and beaches. 

Clean Coasts

Clean Coasts Ireland is owned and operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland. It is funded by the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government, Coca-Cola and Fáilte Ireland. It has been operating in Ireland for 11 years and engages 437 Clean Coasts groups and thousands of beach users. The Green Coast award is also part of the Clean Coasts programme and is an award for beaches that have excellent water quality but may not have the necessary built infrastructure to be eligible for the Blue Flag award. www.cleancoasts.org

Irish Water

Irish Water (www.water.ie) is the new national water utility responsible for providing and developing water services throughout Ireland. Incorporated in July 2013 as a semi-state company under the Water Services Act 2013, Irish Water will bring the water and waste water services of the 31 Local Authorities together under one national service provider. The purpose of Irish Water is to safeguard water as a precious natural resource and to deliver water services in a way that protects the environment and meets the needs of all citizens and industry now and in the future.

Irish Water will be accountable to two regulatory bodies – the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) which is the economic regulator for the water industry, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which is the environmental regulator.

Irish Water is a registered subsidiary company of Ervia (www.ervia.ie)

Think Before You Flush

Tackling the Problem of Sewage Related Litter on Ireland’s Beaches

June 8th World Ocean’s Day: Clean Coasts and Irish Water today launched Think Before You Flush, a campaign aiming to tackle the problem of sewage related litter on Ireland’s beaches. Think Before You Flush is a public awareness campaign about the problem sanitary products and other items can cause in our marine environment and our wastewater systems if they are flushed down the toilet.

Every day people flush thousands of sanitary items such as baby wipes and cotton bud sticks down the toilet instead of simply putting them in the bin. Other items that are frequently flushed down the toilet include cigarette butts and plasters.

In a study of over 1000 people in Ireland, 3 in 10 admitted to flushing such items down the toilet. Of these, 58% admitted to flushing baby wipes down the toilet, 40% facial wipes, 26% cotton bud sticks, 24% tampons and 21% cigarette butts. More than half of those who flush these items down the toilet did so simply due to a lack of knowledge. Sewage related litter is one of the largest categories of litter found on our beaches and is considered to be the most offensive.

Cotton bud sticks can pass through screens at wastewater treatment plants and are a common marine litter item found on Ireland’s beaches. The majority of cotton bud sticks are made of plastic, persist in the marine environment and can be mistaken as food by seabirds.

Speaking at the launch of Think Before You Flush, Annabel FitzGerald, Coastal Programmes Manager, An Taisce said, “The Think Before You Flush campaign through education and awareness aims to prevent items like cotton bud sticks washing up on Ireland’s spectacular beaches.” She added that, During Clean Coasts Big Beach Clean in September 2014, a total of 1,191 cotton bud sticks were found on 103 beaches. By making small changes in our flushing behaviour we can prevent the harm caused by sewage related litter in the marine environment.”

90% of those surveyed agreed that seeing sewage related litter during a visit to the beach would disgust them while 84% of those surveyed agreed that if they knew that the items flushed down the toilet could end up being discharged into the ocean and could pollute our coastline and cause potential health risks they would not dispose of items in this way. This type of marine litter is totally preventable by simply changing our flushing behaviour.

Commenting at the launch, Elizabeth Arnett, Head of Communications in Irish Water said “Irish Water is delighted to be supporting An Taisce in this initiative. One of our major remits is the provision of reliable wastewater treatment, but everyone has a part to play in ensuring our beaches and rivers are pollution free. Through this campaign we can work together to improve our local freshwaters and coastal areas”.

Ends///

Marine Litter

Marine Litter includes a range of materials which have been deliberately discarded, or accidentally lost on shore or at sea. It includes materials that are carried out to sea from land, rivers, drainage, sewage systems and even by the wind.

Summary of Our Nation’s Flushing Behaviour Survey

Clean Coasts commissioned a survey of the nation’s flushing behaviour. We wanted to find out; Who disposes of waste in this manner?; What Sewage Related Litter) items do they dispose of?; Why do people flush items down the toilet?; What can be done to encourage a change in behaviour?

We wanted to understand the nation’s flushing behaviour and to do this we used the following metrics:

  • Incidence levels within the Irish population of sewage-related littering;
  • Reasons for littering in this way;
  • Awareness of the implications of disposing of litter in this manner;
  • Attitudes towards sewage-related littering

Who was surveyed?

1,033 adults aged 18+ were interviewed. Quotas were set and final data weighted to known national profiles of adults aged 18+ on age, gender, class and region to ensure that the sample is representative of the total Irish population.

What did we find out?

  • 3 in 10 Irish adults have flushed items other than toilet paper down the toilet. This figure is higher among those under 35.
  • Lack of knowledge is the primary reason for sewage-related littering among those who do so. The destructive nature of such behaviour is not common knowledge. 52% of sewage relating littering is a consequence of lack of knowledge.
    • 40% thought it was ok to do so
    • 33% did so for convenience
    • 26% said it was only a small item
    • 20% said there was no bin available
    • 18% said it was too messy to dispose of in an alternative way
    • 15% said it was out of habit
    • 1 in 4 believe these items are chemically broken down
    • 1 in 2 thinking they just disintegrate following flushing.

The top items incorrectly disposed of are:

  • Baby wipes 58%
    • Facial wipes 40%
    • Cotton buds 26%
    • Tampons 24%
    • Cigarette butts 21%
    • Plasters 18%
    • Condoms 18%
    • Food 15%
    • Medicines 12%
    • Sanitary pads 6%
    • Tampon applicators 5%
    • Toilet roll tube 4%
    • Nappies 2%
    • Cotton wool 1%
    • Dental floss 1%
  • 6 in 10 stated that they have flushed baby products down the toilet, with baby wipes being the number one item cited by all adults – this figure is slightly higher among women.
  • Female hygiene products are only mentioned by 3 in 10 of our total sample rising to over 1 in 2 for females only.
  • Males on the other hand over-index on disposing of cotton buds, cigarettes, plasters and condoms.

 

What are people’s attitudes to sewage related littering?

  • 90% agreed – Seeing sewage related litter during a visit to the beach in Ireland would disgust me
  • 90% agreed – “We need more education about where items other than toilet paper which are flushed down the toilet end up to make sure that less people dispose of waste in this way”
  • 84% agreed – “If I knew that the items flushed down the toilet could end up being discharged in to the ocean and could pollute our coastline and cause potential health risks I would not dispose of items in this way”
  • 78% agreed – “Flushing items other than toilet paper down the toilet damages our environment”
  • 12% agreed – “Flushing items other than toilet paper down the toilet is acceptable”

When it comes to encouraging people not to engage in sewage-related littering, 1 in 4 of the total sample suggest demonstrating the consequences of such behaviour is the way to go, with 1 in 3 who have done so endorsing this option.

Clean Coasts

Clean Coasts Ireland is owned and operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland. It is funded by the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government, Coca-Cola and Fáilte Ireland. It has been operating in Ireland for 11 years and engages 437 Clean Coasts groups and thousands of beach users. The Green Coast award is also part of the Clean Coasts programme and is an award for beaches that have excellent water quality but may not have the necessary built infrastructure to be eligible for the Blue Flag award. www.cleancoasts.org

Irish Water

Irish Water (www.water.ie) is the new national water utility responsible for providing and developing water services throughout Ireland. Incorporated in July 2013 as a semi-state company under the Water Services Act 2013, Irish Water will bring the water and waste water services of the 31 Local Authorities together under one national service provider. The purpose of Irish Water is to safeguard water as a precious natural resource and to deliver water services in a way that protects the environment and meets the needs of all citizens and industry now and in the future.

Irish Water will be accountable to two regulatory bodies – the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) which is the economic regulator for the water industry, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which is the environmental regulator.

Irish Water is a registered subsidiary company of Ervia (www.ervia.ie)