Major chewing gum producers, brought together by the UK government, have signed up to a new £10 million partnership to remove gum litter from high streets, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow has announced.
The scheme, including Mars Wrigley, GlaxoSmithKline and Perfetti Van Melle and managed by independent charity Keep Britain Tidy, will see gum firms invest up to £10 million over the next five years to help reduce gum litter.
Chewing gum litter costs millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money every year, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the annual clean-up cost is estimated at £7 million.
Around 87% of England’s streets are stained with gum, according to research by Keep Britain Tidy.
This new scheme means chewing gum producers are not only helping to clean up towns and cities as they welcome people back to our high streets, but crucially taking action to prevent people littering in the first place.
The investment, starting later this year, will be used to clean up gum litter staining and use behavioural interventions to encourage people to bin their gum. Previous pilots have reduced gum littering by up to 64%, Defra says.
Littering is a criminal offence and the UK government has increased on-the-spot penalties for offenders to £150, rising to up to £2,500 if convicted in court.
The UK government is seeking powers in the Environment Bill to ensure that enforcement powers are used with a high degree of professionalism, whether by council staff or private contractors, and to place our improved enforcement guidance on a firm statutory footing.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The stains of discarded chewing gum are a blight on our communities, spoiling our streets and wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
“This new scheme means chewing gum producers are not only helping to clean up towns and cities as they welcome people back to our high streets, but crucially taking action to prevent people littering in the first place.
“We are committed to building back better and greener and this commitment to making town centres a more attractive and inviting place is a key part of our long-term strategy to breathe new life into our communities.”
The task force
The Task Force is part of the UK government’s new strategy to support the evolution and regeneration of high streets across the country, which includes 15 Town Deals totalling £335 million to fund community regeneration projects, the transformation of derelict buildings, and communities being given the chance to own local pubs, theatres, sports grounds and corner shops.
Allison Ogden-Newton, Chief Executive of environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, said: “Keep Britain Tidy are delighted to be working with Defra and the chewing gum industry to clean up gum from our streets and critically stop it being dropped in the first place.”
Keep Britain Tidy are delighted to be working with Defra and the chewing gum industry to clean up gum from our streets and critically stop it being dropped in the first place.
The Chewing Gum Task Force forms part of wider government action to tackle litter and protect our environment. The Group will also have the opportunity to share best practice and research in gum cleansing and litter prevention such as cleaning up, education, and biodegradability.
The “Keep it, Bin it” anti-litter campaign, supported by Defra and funded by Mars Wrigley, encourages people to dispose of their litter responsibly.