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South Hams and West Devon are awarded funding to tackle sticky issue of chewing gum

Issued 11 July 2024

A grant from the Chewing Gum Task Force, administered by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, will help South Hams and West Devon Councils clean up gum and reduce gum littering.

The two councils are putting plans in place to remove the chewing gum that blights local streets after receiving a £18,754 grant to tackle the issue.

The councils are among 54 across the country that have successfully applied to the Chewing Gum Task Force, now in its third year, for funds to clean gum off pavements and prevent it from being littered again.

Established by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and run by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, the Chewing Gum Task Force Grant Scheme is open to councils across the UK who wish to clean up gum in their local areas and invest in long-term behaviour change to prevent gum from being dropped in the first place.

The Task Force is funded by major gum manufacturers including Mars Wrigley and Perfetti Van Melle, with an investment of up to £10 million spread over five years.

Monitoring and evaluation carried out by Behaviour Change – a not-for-profit social enterprise - has shown that in areas that benefitted from the first year of funding, a reduced rate of gum littering was still being observed six months after clean-up and the installation of prevention materials.

Cllr Jacqi Hodgson, South Hams Executive Member for Waste, said: “Many towns and cities are affected by people dropping chewing gum and we hope that the street cleaning this grant covers will act as a reminder to people that our streets look much nicer without litter like chewing gum.”

Cllr Ursula Mann, West Devon Lead Member for climate change and biodiversity, said: “We’re grateful to the Chewing Gum Task Force for this grant. It’s a positive way for the industry to help solve the littering issue that it creates.”

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.

In its second year the task force awarded 55 councils a total of £1.56-million, helping clean an estimated 440,000 m2 of pavement - an area equivalent to the Vatican City.

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 60% 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.”

Posted in SHDC.