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Investigation

Reconciling cleanliness, respect for the environment and man’s best friend in Monaco

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The Principality's 130 maintenance employees work 7 days a week to keep the streets of Monaco clean © SMA

Despite the recurrent issue of dog mess, the Monegasque Sanitation Company has managed to halve its water consumption in two years.

Monaco symbolises luxury and refinement and is also renowned for its cleanliness, which contributes to its international reputation. Pristine streets and gardens, sparkling squares: visitors marvel at the Principality. However, Monaco’s trademark cleanliness is the result of daily work and close cooperation between all the players involved.

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Telling testimonies

However, not everyone is as enthusiastic as the tourists. Residents in some neighbourhoods are less than impressed with the standard of cleanliness of their streets. Litter on the ground, papers being blown about, weeds in the Principality’s flower beds, a number of Internet users feel Monaco is increasingly dirty. What everyone agrees on, however, is the increasing amount of dog pee and poo on the Principality’s streets.

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Rubbish on the rue des Açores © Monaco Tribune
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Rubbish in rue Emile de Loth © Monaco Tribune

“Dog mess is a real problem. It’s a small territory and there are far too many dogs, so it’s hard to find solutions,” states a dissatisfied reader. Another adds:  “The SMA should definitely wash the pavements more often!” These comments may be isolated, but they do highlight a problem that seems to affect several neighbourhoods in the Principality.

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Dog mess on Square Gastaud © Monaco Tribune

The neighbourhoods that come up most often are Jardin Exotique and Moneghetti, place des Bougainvilliers, avenue Hector Otto and the area around the Tour Odéon.

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Dog droppings on the Boulevard du jardin exotique pavement © Monaco Tribune

That said, despite the criticisms, many people applaud the work carried out by the Société Monégasque d’Assainissement (SMA) and condemn the irresponsible behaviour of dog owners. “The SMA is doing everything it can and we thank them,”  one of our readers commented, while another asks for “common decency and respect”  from owners.

Substantial resources and constant responsiveness

The SMA, the public service concession holder that is responsible for street cleaning, deploys considerable resources to ensure the Principality is kept clean. Marie Bérard, Deputy Director of Environmental services at the SMA explains that some 130 staff on the ground “work from Monday to Sunday, 7 days a week, from 5 am to 7 pm.” Armed with brooms, high-pressure washers and scrubbing machines, the operatives scour the Principality for any dirt.

There is no favouritism between neighbourhoods.

Ms. Bérard said that “at the SMA, there is no favouritism between neighbourhoods. The staff’s dedication and service are the same on the Boulevard du Jardin Exotique as at La Condamine or the Port or elsewhere.” Laurence Marty, Deputy Director of the Urban Planning Department (DAU), agrees: “At no point is priority given to any particular neighbourhood.”

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“We adapt to the number of visitors and activity, to events but also to the dog population. Certain neighbourhoods in Monaco have a high concentration of dogs, so we tailor our washes accordingly,” says Ms. Bérard.

According to a reader who lives in avenue des Castelans, “the problem is not the maintenance, cleaning is carried out frequently enough. The big problem is the mess left by dog droppings, sometimes just a few metres from the entrance to buildings!” 

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Workers clean the streets very early in the morning © SMA

To deal with this, a comprehensive street-cleaning operation is carried out early in the morning, at 5 am. After that, it is up to the maintenance staff in the different neighbourhoods and a mobile team to take care of droppings left on the pavement during the day.

Water, a precious resource

“Not so long ago the streets were washed more often…”  laments one reader, as do others. After Storm Alex people quickly became aware of the scarcity and difficulties to do with the Principality’s water supply. Since then, at the request of the DAU, the SMA has rethought its cleaning methods, taking the environment and limited resources into consideration.

While a few years ago the streets were cleaned using plenty of water, today more economical techniques are being sought, such as high pressure washers and scrubbers, for example. The scrubbers, equipped with water recovery systems, have significantly reduced water consumption.

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© SMA

“We have spaced washes out, but we are aware that there is dirt to be dealt with every day, so we have therefore equipped the maintenance workers with small battery-powered power washers to deal with small jobs.”  explains Marie Bérard. Each worker has a water meter so that consumption can be monitored.

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Also, for environmental reasons, only water is used to clean everyday dirt. Certain harmless products may be used on difficult stains, for example vinegar to remove urine and spirit to disinfect litter bins.

The SMA uses water from the Vallon de la Noix to clean roads, as a further water-saving measure. This makes it possible to “use water that is adequate for road cleaning while reducing the use of drinking water, since the water from the Vallon goes out to sea anyway,”  says Ms. Bérard.

The recent changes have halved water consumption over the past two years.

Anti-social behaviour: a major challenge

One of the real scourges when it comes to urban cleanliness is undoubtedly urine and dog droppings. To remedy this, the DAU has installed 200 ‘poop’ bag dispensers all around the country. These bags, which are free of charge and easily accessible, enable dog owners to pick up afteer their pets. The bags are also available free of charge at the bySMEG shop at 11 Allée Guillaume Apollinaire.

In addition, the Principality already has 900 litter bins throughout the territory where the used bags can be disposed of. Four dog parks have also been created, specially for our canine companions’ needs. Two dog urinals are currently being tested, on Promenade Honoré II and Place des Bougainvilliers.

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A dog park located next to the Princess Grace Rose Garden, in the Fontvieille district. © Monaco Tribune

Inconclusive tests, for the moment. As residents and dogs are not used to these new facilities yet, they still use the streets. “The dog parks are useful. It is important but difficult to create them everywhere. That’s why, in parallel, we are rolling out more bag dispensers,”  explains Ms Marty, Deputy Director at the DAU.

Despite these efforts, anti-social behaviour persists. Regular awareness campaigns are due to be launched in the coming months to make dog owners aware of their responsibilities and remind them of the importance of picking up after their pets.

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The Quality of Life Preservation Unit (U.P.C.V.) being presented to the Sovereign Prince  © Manuel Vitali

The Quality of Life Preservation Unit, part of the Police department, is easily spotted thanks to its blue vests. Its role is to ensure the rules are followed, and it will issue fines to offenders as appropriate. The unit works directly with the SMA and the DAU, and plays a crucial role in combatting anti-social behaviour and keeping the Principality clean. “They are very responsive and diplomatic, we can call on them as a last resort,”  adds Ms. Bérard.

Ongoing dialogue between the SMA and DAU

The SMA and the DAU work closely together to optimise cleaning the Principality. Regular meetings enable observations from the field to be shared, sensitive points to be identified and appropriate solutions to be put in place.

The maintenance staff on the ground are best placed to put forward ideas and proposals for improvements, and their opinions are taken into account by the SMA. The staff look after a given sector, which is defined according to the difficulty of the tasks and the arduousness of the area, for example, if there are many stairs, or a high footfall.

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The fact that our staff work in a specific area fosters a close relationship with residents and a strong bond. Several years ago, the doctrine was not to hide it, but certainly to keep street cleaning as discreet as possible, whereas now it is perfectly. normal to see road sweepers at work.

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