Councils urge chewing gum firms to aid street clean-up

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Cleaning gum from the streets is a sticky business

Councils in England and Wales have once again told chewing gum manufacturers to pay towards prising gum from pavements.

Councils spend £60m a year removing trodden-in gum from streets, said the Local Government Association (LGA).

The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, has for years urged producers to help remove what it called a "plague" on pavements.

Wrigley, Britain's leading gum manufacturer, said it was investing in campaigns to discourage littering.

More than 95% of the UK's main shopping streets are gum-stained, according to Keep Britain Tidy.

The campaign group said 64% of all UK roads and pavements are "stained" by chewing gum - where chewed gum has been squashed into the street.

'Unsightly and unacceptable'

Councils have repeatedly asked for financial help to get rid of the problem, insisting gum manufacturers should take more responsibility.

Councillor Judith Blake, the LGA's environment spokeswoman, said it was "ugly, unsightly and unacceptable".

"Chewing gum is a plague on our pavements," she added. "This is a growing cost pressure councils could do without."

Cllr Blake said the chewing gum industry "needs to go a lot further, faster, in tackling this issue" by contributing to the clear-up costs and switching to biodegradable gum.

"Councils have no legal obligation to clear up the gum," she said. "They do it for the benefit of their shoppers, town centre users, businesses and residents."

Image caption,
Wrigley says it is "committed" to playing its part in tackling the issue

Wrigley, which makes Extra, Hubba Bubba and Airwaves gum, said that it was making a "significant investment" in anti-litter campaigns.

This includes a "Litter Less" campaign in some schools, as well as research into tackling gum-dropping using behavioural science, Wrigley said.

"Only changing individual attitudes to littering will keep our streets clean," a company spokesman said. "We are committed to playing our part in making that happen."

The LGA claims that gum costs 3p per piece to buy, but that it costs councils £1.50 to clean up each square metre of pavement.

It said the £60m annual bill for eliminating gum could be used to fill "more than a million potholes" instead.

A number of local councils have launched initiatives to cut down on gum littering.

These include posters advertising fines for littering and flyers which double as a wrapper for used gum.