In just one month, teams from over 100 SPAR, EUROSPAR and ViVO stores in Northern Ireland have lifted 1,626 bags of litter from local communities across the country, with one spot producing 180 bags alone.

The team from EUROSPAR Linn Road in Larne focused on a stretch of the A8, the main road into the town, filling 135 bags full of rubbish abandoned by litter louts, while a team from SPAR Kilwaughter, also working on the same road, lifted 45 bags.

In fact, 18 store teams litter picking from Whiteabbey through Mallusk to Ballyclare, out to Larne and from Carrickfergus back along the Loughshore, collected an eye watering 438 bags of rubbish between them.

Some of the more surprising items which were recovered during the NI-wide clean up included two bicycles and a scooter, picked up by the team at SPAR Greystone in Antrim.

The clean ups, which spanned across sites from Kircubbin to Ballycastle, and Derry to Dungannon, were part of an initiative launched by SPAR NI and Henderson Group, which owns the brand in Northern Ireland and has invested in kits for each store to use to help clean up their neighbourhoods.

The kits include large bin bags, pickers, high visibility vests and gloves, as well as in-store signage to encourage shoppers to use the bins provided both inside and outside stores. The signage is dotted throughout stores, but prominently displayed beside high litter generating products such as plastic bottles, to continue to remind shoppers to dispose of their waste appropriately.

In recent months, a total of 175 stores have completed a clean-up in their local neighbourhoods. The stores will continue to use their kits regularly, and will hold events for all to get involved, annually.

Bronagh Luke, Head of Corporate Marketing at Hendersons commented; “Unfortunately, littering continues to be a plight within every community in Northern Ireland, and there has been little evidence of behavioural change in those who are the serial offenders.

“Operating over 100 stores and supplying to over 400 more in every city, town and village in Northern Ireland, we are committed to making those neighbourhoods great places to live and are delighted to have the resource and volunteers to implement this initiative.

“Littering simply should not be as big a problem as it is. We are very proud of the communities within which our stores operate, and we hope this initiative will encourage a change of behaviour when it comes to disposing of waste, particularly from purchases made at our stores.”

Barista Bar, the retail coffee brand which is available in over 400 SPAR, EUROSPAR and ViVO branded stores in Northern Ireland has committed to numerous litter picks throughout Northern Ireland, in efforts to reduce the number of single use cups that are not disposed of correctly.

In 2019, the brand launched their own reusable cups and has reached sales of 20,000 drinks per month with shoppers using the Barista Bar reusable cup – an increase of 12% from 2022, to date. There are now almost 100,000 cups in use across Northern Ireland, with 113,000 users registered with Barista Bar’s loyalty scheme, incentivising shoppers to live more sustainably with various rewards available.

Keavy O’Mahony-Truesdale, Brand Manager at Barista Bar added; “We all have a responsibility help address the issues around litter and we have dedicated a huge amount of time and investment in encouraging our shoppers to invest in a reusable cup to try and make a positive social impact in the communities in which we operate.

“We are committed to being a sustainable brand, and are pleased with the uptake in our reusable cups, however there is still a huge amount of work to be done to change the habits of those who litter on a regular basis. Barista Bar sponsors Walk NI and their associated campaigns, such as Leave No Trace and the Right Side of Outside, to help educate, promote and support Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.”

For more information on SPAR NI’s Keep Communities Tidy campaign, and for a breakdown of stores and the areas they helped clean up, click here.