LGA highlights growing cost of chewing gum removal

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on gum manufacturers to contribute to the £60 million annual gum removal cost to councils.

The LGA said the contribution would enable councils to fill in more than a million potholes.

It cited recent research by Keep Britain Tidy which found 99 per cent of main shopping streets and 64 per cent of all roads and pavements are stained by chewing gum.

The average piece of gum costs about 3p to buy - but up to £1.50 per square metre to remove. Most chewing gum is not biodegradable and once it is trodden into the pavement this requires specialised equipment to remove.

The body also urged gum manufacturers to switch to biodegradable and easier-to-remove chewing gum.

Cllr Judith Blake, LGA Environment spokesperson, said: “Chewing gum is a plague on our pavements. It’s ugly, it’s unsightly and it’s unacceptable.

“At a time when councils face considerable ongoing funding pressures, this is a growing cost pressure they could do without. Conventional chewing gum is not biodegradable and councils have to use specialist equipment to remove it, which is both time-consuming and very expensive.

“It is therefore reasonable to expect chewing gum manufacturers to help more, both by switching to biodegradable gum and by contributing to the cost of clearing it up. While awareness campaigns the industry is involved in have some value, they are not enough by themselves. The industry needs to go a lot further, faster, in tackling this issue.

“Councils have no legal obligation to clear up the gum. They do it for the benefit of their shoppers, town centre users, businesses and residents; to make the pavements more attractive and the environment better.
Councils want to work with the industry to find solutions to this ongoing problem.”

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