CCTV footage of the recycling bank in Mountmellick will hopefully lead to prosecutions for those who dumped empty glass bottles, jars and cans over the festive season.
The matter came to light last Wednesday morning, when Bobby Delaney, a former town councillor and current member of Mountmellick Tidy Towns committee, photographed the bring bank at the Connolly Street shopping complex and posted it on Facebook.
There was swift reaction to the post, with many calling for the offenders to be fined.
Indeed, Mr Delaney told the Laois Nationalist that Laois County Council had asked his permission to use the photograph for its Facebook page, on which the local authority stated that it was sifting through CCTV footage of the area with the intention of identifying the culprits and issuing legal proceedings.
One of the comments on Mr Delaney’s page was: ‘Let’s see how many fines Laois County Council hand out. I got a €150 fine from them before at that exact location for accidentally leaving one Corrs cardboard box behind me when I got sidetracked when my phone rang just as I finished putting all of my bottles into their proper containers according to type and colour.
“Let’s see how many fines are dished out this time because Laois County Council do have cameras directly pointing down onto the recycling bin capturing reg plates and rightly so.”
Another wrote: “Fine every single person who discarded these bottles. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that there will be excessive extra recycling over the Christmas period so why haven’t extra emptying of the containers been organised in advance.”
“Who do we contact to fine the council,” said another commentator.
Within hours of the photograph being posted, the site was cleared of the rubbish.
Mr Delaney said: “It was about 8.15am on Wednesday morning that I went down to dispose of a few empty bottles. It was in a dreadful state. But what I didn’t know until a couple of hours later was that the bins that had been full had been emptied a day previously and that the rubbish was left behind. I don’t think it is the recycling company’s job to clean up the rubbish, but just to empty the bins.
“Perhaps if the bins were emptied more regularly, especially around festive occasions or if they installed additions bins or maybe larger bins this might not happen again. It was the same at the glass bring-bank at county hall in Portlaoise as well.
“Normally that site in Mountmellick is always kept in good order and at the annual local Tidy Towns awards ceremony it is commented on how well kept it is kept.”
When the Laois Nationalist contacted the local authority for a comment, administrative officer at the environment section Ann Carroll said that Laois County Council has provided bottle banks at 43 locations around the county.
“The bottle banks are monitored daily by council staff and some also have CCTV in place. There is a rota in place for the emptying of the banks by the contractor, Glassco.
“However, if this collection service is required sooner than the agreed rota, arrangements are made with the contractor.”
Ms Carroll said that following the Christmas and New Year period, the contractor was very busy trying to reach additional call-outs in Offaly, Westmeath, Laois and Longford.
She said: “Laois County Council has signs in place asking customers to take home their bags and boxes, not to leave bags or boxes behind them on the ground. If the bottle bank is full, customers should take their recycling goods to another location or return another day, after the banks have been emptied. There is a second bottle bank facility on the Tullamore Road in Mountmellick that could have been used.
“The footage at the bottle banks will be examined and litter fines may issue to members of the public who breached the litter laws.
“We also want to increase capacity at the busy sites and have collections carried out more frequently, particularly at busy times of the year. These issues will be addressed when the contract goes out for renewal later this year,” concluded Ms Carroll.