Northern Ireland

Council aims to stub out city centre litter

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Image caption It is hoped pocket ashtrays and gum pouches can help clean up Belfast's streets.

Belfast City Council has come up with a couple of innovative ways of tackling the perennial problem of our dirty streets.

Smokers can now get portable ashtrays to neatly put their cigarette butts away.

And chewers are being targeted too with a new pouch designed for their used gum until they can find a bin.

The council spends £90,000 a year removing gum from Belfast's streets.

It can take up to eight weeks to remove gum from Royal Avenue with the 'gum-buster' machine and by the time the work is complete, it has to be started all over again.

One average one piece of gum costs 3p to buy but 10p to clean off our streets.

But smokers are also guilty of littering, with cigarette butts being the most common item of litter in Belfast.

The pocket ashtrays can hold up to five cigarette butts and the gum pouches are reusable.

'Lack of thought'

As part of the latest council campaign, 'Litter makes a pig of you', the pocket ashtrays and gum pouches will be given out by seven city centre shops.

Councillor Pat McCarthy, chairman of the Health and Environmental Services Committee, said the council was targeting specific groups with the new campaign.

"People of all ages litter, but we are particularly targeting 16-35 year olds because they tend to lead such busy lives it is sometimes harder for the message to get through to them," he said.

"The other group is smokers and men. People often drop litter through a lack of thought, but we want them to think more about their actions and realise it is never acceptable to litter."