22 April 2024

Wiltshire Council awarded £25,000 to stick it to chewing gum litter

Wiltshire Council has been awarded a grant from the Chewing Gum Task Force, administered by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, to clean up gum and reduce gum littering.

The £25,000 grant will be invested in a new, high-pressure chewing gum removal machine that uses superheated steam to remove gum thrown on the floor, with the heat melting even the most hardened chewing gum waste.

The council is one of 56 across the country that have successfully applied to the Chewing Gum Task Force, now in its second year, for funds to clean gum off pavements and prevent it from being littered again.

Cllr Caroline Thomas, Cabinet Member for Street Scene, said: “We’re delighted to have received this funding from Keep Britain Tidy to tackle this sticky problem across Wiltshire.

“This new gum removal machine will help to clean up this unsightly problem on our streets, and we’ll also be loaning the machine without charge to our town and parish councils to use at local hotspots.

“We have committed to having vibrant communities in our Business Plan, and that includes continuing to invest to clean up our streets. Though of course, it would be much better if people didn’t drop litter and used gum in the first place.

“Wiltshire is a beautiful place, and we want to keep it that way.”

Estimates suggest the annual clean-up cost of chewing gum for councils in the UK is around £7 million and, according to Keep Britain Tidy, around 77% of England’s streets and 99% of retail sites are stained with gum.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Littering blights our communities, spoils our countryside, harms our wildlife and wastes taxpayers’ money when cleaning it up. That’s why we’re working with gum producers to tackle chewing gum stains.

“After the success of the first round of funding, this next slice will give councils further support to clean up our towns and cities.”

“In its first year the task force awarded 44 grants worth a total of £1.2 million, benefitting 53 councils who were able to clean an estimated 2.5km2 of pavement, an area larger than 467 football pitches.

“By combining targeted street cleaning with specially designed signage to encourage people to bin their gum, participating councils achieved reductions in gum littering of up to 80% in the first two months.”

Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive, said: “Chewing gum litter is highly visible on our high streets and is both difficult and expensive to clean up, so the support for councils provided by the Chewing Gum Task Force and the gum manufacturers is very welcome.

“However, once the gum has been cleaned up, it is vital to remind the public that when it comes to litter, whether it’s gum or anything else, there is only one place it should be – in the bin – and that is why the behaviour change element of the task force’s work is so important.”

Written by
Andy Munns
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Written by Andy Munns