Chewing gum manufacturers should contribute towards cost of clearing it up, councils say

Laura Hughes
Keep Britain Tidy found 99 per cent of main shopping streets were stained by gum

Chewing gum manufacturers should be forced to contribute towards the multi-million pound cost of clearing it up off Britain's streets, councils have said.

The industry is facing calls from Local Government Association (LGA) to help foot the £60 million-a-year bill and to switch to biodegradable gums which are easier to remove.

It comes after the campaign group Keep Britain Tidy found 99 per cent of main shopping streets and 64 per cent of all roads and pavements were stained by gum.

Chewing gum cleaning machine Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

At any one time it is estimated Oxford Street is covered by 300,000 pieces of chewing gum. 

While the average piece of gum costs around 3p to buy, the LGA said it costs councils up to £1.50 to clean up a square metre of pavement.

Most gum currently sold is not biodegradable and so once it is trodden into the surface it requires specialised equipment to remove it.

A piece of discarded chewing gum is picked up by a man's shoe  Credit: PAUL GROVER

The LGA said assistance from the industry would release funds for hard-pressed councils to fill in more than a million potholes.

LGA environment spokeswoman Judith Blake said: "Chewing gum is a plague on our pavements. It's ugly, it's unsightly and it's unacceptable.

"At a time when councils face considerable ongoing funding pressures, this is a growing cost pressure they could do without.

Chewing Gum Cleaning Machine Credit: PA

"It is therefore reasonable to expect chewing gum manufacturers to help more, both by switching to biodegradable gum and by contributing to the cost of clearing it up.

"Councils have no legal obligation to clear up the gum.

"They do it for the benefit of their shoppers, town centre users, businesses and residents; to make the pavements more attractive and the environment better.

"Councils want to work with the industry to find solutions to this ongoing problem. The industry needs to go a lot further, faster, in tackling this issue."

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