Toxic plastic: Derry to host major conference on impact of littering

Participants in a Big Clean Up on the Greenway that was held in Derry during the summer  organised by the Council in partnership with the local community and Keep NI Beautiful.
Participants in a Big Clean Up on the Greenway that was held in Derry during the summer organised by the Council in partnership with the local community and Keep NI Beautiful.

A conference focusing on littering and its polluting effects on the environment will be staged in Derry this month.

Experts from across Ireland and Britain and local schoolchildren will be taking part in the conference, which is being organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council, in partnership with Keep NI Beautiful, and takes place at the Guildhall on October 22 and 23.

Titled ‘City2Sea: Pathways for Litter’, it will bring together local authorities, businesses, non-government organisations and other bodies from across the UK and Ireland to examine the various issues around river litter and how they can be tackled.

The second day of the conference will involve interactive workshops for schoolchildren around the journey of litter and the impact that individual actions can have on making our environment better.

Speaking ahead of the event, Mayor John Boyle said the costs were significant in both financial and environmental terms.

“Council dedicates significant resources throughout the year to cleaning up other people’s mess, whether it be wilful littering, illegal dumping or accidental episodes,” he said.

“With 80 per cent of marine litter originating from land, the impact of this pollution on the River Foyle, its tributaries and the ocean, is extremely worrying. Whatever the cause of littering, the cost is great in both financial and environmental terms.

“We therefore felt that it was necessary to take a stand and show some local leadership on this environmental crisis. As the plastic problem continues to escalate, we hope that the meeting of minds at this conference will be the first step towards tackling this issue locally so that Derry and Strabane can truly realise its ambition as a cleaner, more sustainable region.

“By involving local primary schools on the second day of this event,” he added, “we aim to increase awareness of these problems by captivating the attention of our District’s younger citizens, as the power of change lies in all of our hands.”

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful CEO, Ian Humphreys said: “This ambitious two-day event will provide the catalyst for us all - whether businesses, local government, schools or community groups - to get involved in tackling the blight of litter and in particular the toxic legacy of plastic pollution that litterers are daily adding to.

“We are delighted to be teaming up with Derry City and Strabane District Council for this exciting conference which seeks to deliver ongoing positive action and real solutions for our local economy and the global environment. We’d also like to thank our sponsors, NI Water, for their support.”

Confirmed speakers at the conference include Eunomia Senior Consultant, Dr Chiarina Darrah; Councillor Rachel Woods, Green Party; Sinead McCoy, An Taisce; Dr Ian Humphreys, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful; Jim Keys, Zero Waste North West and Sean Lynch, Open Litter Map.

Anyone interested in attending is asked to contact Karina Robinson via Karina.Robinson@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org or call 02890736920.