The UK’s Local Government Association (LGA) has called on chewing gum manufacturers to help take a bite out of the costs of cleaning up discarded pieces of gum, or create a biodegradable alternative.
The LGA, which represents over 400 councils from across the UK, says that companies who produce chewing gum – such as Wrigley and Orbit – should help cover the cleaning costs.
Kris Hopkins, the local government minister tabled the idea this week and was backed by the Keep Britain Tidy campaign.
Conservative estimates suggest cleaning up gum trodden in to pavements costs some £56 million per year – the LGA suggested that whilst gum costs as little as 3p per piece to buy, councils and authorities have to pay as much as £1.50 per piece to have it cleaned up.
LGA spokesman and environmental councillor Peter Box said: “Chewing gum is a plague on our pavements. It is a blight which costs councils a fortune to clean up and takes hours of hard work to remove. It’s ugly, it’s unsightly and it’s unacceptable.
“The UK gum industry is a multi-million pound business and we believe in the principle of the ‘polluter’ paying. We are calling for [firms] to show corporate responsibility and to contribute.”
Chewing gum isn’t often thought of as a cleaning ‘hot topic’ – however, as a commercial cleaning company, we see more than our fair share of discarded gum end up in all sorts of places. With that in mind, we’d certainly see the appeal of a biodegradable gum.
Mr Hopkins of the LGA agreed, saying, “We would be keen for manufacturers to take forward making their gum biodegradable.”
A spokesperson for Wrigley, said the company took the issue “very seriously” and were attempting to develop a product “that is easier to remove if disposed of improperly”.
She added: “The only long-term solution to this problem is persuading people to dispose of their chewing gum responsibly, as the large majority already do.”