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Chewing Gum action comes to Scotland

Four Scottish local authorities, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, and Shetland Islands, have received a share of £1.25million of funding to tackle chewing gum staining on UK streets this summer.

The funding, distributed via the Scottish Government through the UK Government’s new Chewing Gum Task Force established by DEFRA and our sister organisation in England, Keep Britain Tidy, aims to clean gum off pavements and put measures in place to stop it being dropped in the first place.

We particularly welcome the news that Glasgow City Council and North Lanarkshire Council have received funding to work together.  This sort of innovation and cross local authority collaboration is something that we have called for in our response to the consultation on the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy because we know that litter and the behaviours behind it, crosses boundaries.

Catherine Gee, our Deputy CEO said, “We've supported local authorities in the past to try and tackle chewing gum litter and staining, but this new tranche of significant funding will help these four local authorities to take further action. 

“Our Local Environmental Audit and Management System surveys highlight that 15.3% of the streets we survey are stained by chewing gum in Scotland, rising to over a third of sites (34.4%) in town and city centres. And it costs thousands to clean up.  In fact, it costs an estimated £7million across the UK to clean off gum from pavements.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the results across the UK, and learning from those working to tackle the sticky subject head on.”

The funding, of which £118,000 has been allocated to the four Scottish local authorities, is part of investment worth £10million from major chewing gum producers, including Mars Wrigley and Perfetti Van Melle, to tackle chewing gum litter over the next five years.

We have called for producers to be fully held to account over litter caused by their products.  The funding provided by chewing gum producers shows just what could be achieved should statutory payments be made a key component of the Government’s Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) plans.

Our last campaign to target those that drop gum was in 2014 when we worked with Gumdrop, The Wrigley Company and University of Glasgow Students' Union to trail a nudge intervention in Glasgow's West End. There was an indicative drop in gum recorded on surveyed sites following intervention being introduced and 151 gum drop bins were returned to the recycling station at the University of Glasgow Students' Union so that the gum could be repurposed into other products.

09 August 2022

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