Chewing gum litter go down by 87%

Date published: 20 November 2009

A campaign warning chewers of gum they risk a litter fine if they don't put their used gum in the bin has seen a huge drop in gum litter in the Rochdale borough. Since the campaign’s launch at the start of this October, a Keep Britain Tidy survey has revealed gum litter in the borough has gone down by 87% overall.

As part of a national study being carried out by Keep Britain Tidy’s Chewing Gum Action Group, Rochdale Borough Council selected 10 high-footfall areas across the borough to carry out a survey to measure reductions in gum litter at the end of the campaign at the beginning of November.

Councillor Greg Couzens, cabinet member for finance, enthused: “What a brilliant result! It’s great timing in the run up to Christmas as we welcome people into our town centres to do their Christmas shopping. Cleanliness of shopping centres is such an important factor as people judge an area based on its appearance and cleanliness. Seeing lots of chewing gum on the floor runs places down, so I’m encouraged by these fantastic results.”

Throughout the campaign, council street cleaning teams wore high visibility jackets with the message ‘don’t drop gum, it’s litter’, whilst high profile gum litter adverting across the borough’s town centres, buses and telephone boxes told chewers that irresponsibly disposed of gum is litter and they could be landed with a litter fine if caught dropping it. This follows an earlier Chewing Gum Action Group study which showed many gum chewers simply don’t associate dropping gum as litter.

Rebecca Joinson, spokesperson for the Chewing Gum Action Group, explained: “Incorrect disposal of chewing gum is a major concern for many councils. It’s an important and emotive issue for residents and costly to remove.

“The results in the Rochdale borough are outstanding and demonstrate that people who chew gum are thinking twice before dropping their gum on the floor. The message that incorrectly disposed of gum is in fact litter and that you can receive a fine for dropping gum has been clearly heard.”

A piece of gum costs about 3p to make – but costs around 10p to clean up each blob off the floor. The problem is so great that councils spend around £150 million a year on cleaning up the UK’s streets.

Councillor Irene Davidson, cabinet member for environment and sustainability at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have achieved such an overwhelming reduction in gum litter.

“Our mission is to make the borough a cleaner and more attractive place to live, work and visit, but we need everyone to support us. By the end of the year we expect to have spent over £40,000 clearing up gum off pavements, but people can help reduce this bill by putting gum in the bin and allow us to plough money into other council services.”

Rochdale Borough Council was one of fifteen local authorities across the UK taking part in the chewing gum campaign - designed to change the behaviours and attitudes towards chewing gum disposal.

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