Thursday, 1 June 2017:  Research released by Coca-Cola at the launch of Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week (2nd – 11th June) revealed that 95% of people across Ireland and Northern Ireland have encountered litter at the island’s coastline, with four in ten people naming litter as the greatest deterrent in visiting the coast. While the majority of respondents have experienced litter on our coastline, just 15% of people admit to having dropped litter themselves.

Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week aims to educate, and foster pride in our precious coastline, while empowering community groups across the country to get involved in one of the hundreds of coastal clean-ups and events taking place.

Drawing over eight million international visitors to our shores annually, the Irish tourism economy is reported to be worth €7.7 billion, with the coastline estimated to contribute €2 billion alone.  While a lot of us have experienced litter while at the beach, as a nation we take a lot of pride in our coastlines. Almost three quarters (73%) of people have celebrated our stunning coastline on social media, with Facebook the most widely used platform followed by Instagram.

To celebrate the world’s love of our coastline Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week has teamed up with popular Instagram account InstaIreland to showcase the beauty of the island’s coastline over the course of the week.

Speaking at the launch of Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week, musician, TV presenter and avid surfer Kian Egan said; “Together with Coca-Cola, An Taisce and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, I’m delighted to help generate awareness of the importance of protecting our beaches. Ireland has some of the most beautiful coastlines in world and we really don’t realise how lucky we are. As a keen surfer, I see first-hand the benefits of looking after our coasts and unfortunately also the damage that can be done by littering. I’m encouraging everyone to take stock of their own contribution to keeping our beaches clean, and I also want to celebrate the volunteers up and down this island who give a huge amount of their time and energy to protect our coast. Last year during Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week, more than 10 tonnes of marine litter was removed from the coastline and with a little help, we can make as much of an impact again in 2017.”

The research released today also reveals that a significant number of people are discarding items they do not consider litter. Four in ten people do not consider fruit to be litter as it is biodegradable, however although organic it still takes time to break down and can cause damage to the coast and marine-life. Previous research by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful shows a lack of knowledge on the consequences of littering and the effect this has on our coastline, which in turn promotes littering.

Michael John O’Mahony from An Taisce’s Educational Unit said, “Litter and particularly marine litter has a huge long term negative impact on our environment. Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week aims to demonstrate to everybody the importance of protecting our coasts. Furthermore we want to acknowledge the volunteer work of the hundreds of Clean Coasts groups across the country. We hope this Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week will be the most successful yet, with something for everyone.

Speaking at this year’s launch Matthieu Seguin, General Manager, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland said, “Our investment the Clean Coasts programmes spans 14 years, and we are very proud of our long-standing partnership An Taisce and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. As leaders in sustainability, we strive to minimise our impact on the environment and a key element of our efforts is focused on environmental stewardship within communities; encouraging people to act responsibly when it comes to disposing of waste. With Clean Coasts Week 2017, we aim to foster pride in our coastline, while reminding beach-goers of the importance of keeping our coasts litter free.”

Irish artist Daragh Muldowney, speaking on his experience exploring Ireland’s rock pools for his exhibition ‘Jewellery Box - Ireland’s Hidden Gems', said “I have travelled all over the world and nothing compares to the Irish coastline. People flock from all over the world and draw inspiration from its beauty, so as the residents of Ireland it is up to us to do our part to protect and celebrate that beauty. With our online exhibition in partnership with InstaIreland, I hope we will encourage everyone to be mindful of litter when enjoying the coast.”

There are 26,000 volunteers, over 700 volunteer groups and 300 events already planned for Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week.  There are many ways to get involved, from taking personal litter home to helping out at a local beach clean event, or becoming more informed at one of the many educational events held around the country. Information of key events can be found on www.cleancoasts.org and www.liveherelovehere.org.

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