By Michael McHugh, PA.
The cigarette butt is the most common litter item in Northern Ireland, a report showed.
Drinks containers, including plastic bottles, cans and takeaway coffee cups, were also noted as a recurring issue and observed in 45% of all surveyed areas, campaigners said.
Improvements in the level of dog fouling and a boost in overall cleanliness was observed last year, the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful organisation said.
A total of 86% of streets and public spaces surveyed met an acceptable standard for cleanliness, an improvement on the previous year.
In 2019 only 6% of the 1,100 streets, roads and open spaces surveyed had dog fouling, compared with 10% during the previous year's survey.
The report said: "The most commonly observed item of litter in Northern Ireland's streets and public spaces was cigarette butts.
"These were found to appear across all land use types with 60% of surveyed areas having at least one cigarette butt present, although there were often many more."
Dog fouling clusters or "hotspots" were still a problem.
It said: "Streets and public spaces that did have dog fouling present, were found to have had an increased likelihood of having multiple occurrences, with one recreational area surveyed having as many as nine dog fouls present on a 50-metre stretch.
"This supports the idea that a failure to clean up dog fouling is influenced by 'signalling', i.e. the presence of dog fouling indicates to other owners that not clearing up after their pet is acceptable in the area."
Rural roads, whilst improving, are still a problem and are disproportionately affected by litter when compared to residential, recreational and retail areas.
A quarter of rural roads failed to reach an acceptable standard for litter.
They suffered mostly from pollution with plastic bottles, cans and takeaway coffee cups.
The report authors noted: "This type of litter will almost always come from cars with passengers carelessly throwing their empty drinks out of the windows."
Covid-19 has put additional pressures on waste collections services throughout Northern Ireland.
The report said: "There is a need for everyone to act responsibly and ensure they are disposing of their waste in an appropriate manner."