Changing behaviour of gum users
Chewing gum is the most difficult type of litter to deal with. Its stickiness means normal cleaning methods like street sweeping and litter picking don’t work. More extreme methods like jet washing and steam cleaning have to be used to remove it – which cost a lot of money
What is chewing gum?
Chewing gum is a manufactured confectionary product made from a synthetic rubber base to which softeners, flavours and sweetners are added. Just under half the UK population chew gum and the market, currently valued at £329 million is constantly growing.
Why is gum a problem?
When carelessly discarded chewing gum becomes trodden into our streets and pavements it is extremely difficult and costly to remove. It makes paved areas look grimy, dirty and generally degrades an area. Chewing gum is highly resistant to aggressive chemicals and does not degrade.
In a recent survey Keep Britain tidy found solid gum present at 4% of surveyed sites and flattened gum or staining at 69% of sites. The average clean up of gum from a town centre costs £20K and this has to be carried out a number of times a year.
Whose responsibility is it to clear away gum?
Your local council is legally responsible to clear chewing gum from public places for which it is responsible. However, once gum becomes flattened, councils are no longer under a duty to remove it as litter.
What can I do about chewing gum litter?
Keep Britain Tidy encourage the public to get involved and do their bit to tackle the problem of gum on our streets. One way you can do this is to register with the Big Tidy Up at www.thebigtidyup.org and organise a litter pick in your local community. During your litter pick it is very likely that you will find discarded gum, If the gum is not too trodden in you may well be able to remove it as part of your litter pick.
You can also sign up as a Keep Britain Tidy supporter and show that you are committed to tackling the issue of gum or order one of the chewing gum action group posters. Keep Britain Tidy are active members of the Chewing Gum Action Group and as a Keep Britain Tidy supporter we will keep you updated on our work and campaigns.
Find out more
To find out more about action to tackle chewing gum litter, please visit the Chewing Gum Action Group website at www.chewinggumactiongroup.org.uk.
Or view our Knowledge Bank