Wrigley tackles chewy problem

By Peter Stiff

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Gum, Gum base, Confectionery

Chewing gum manufacturers have taken up the fight against discarded
gum that costs tax payers millions of pounds to clean.

Local councils are estimated to have spent £4.5 million removing gum from pavements last year, however, £150 million is claimed to be the cost should there be a complete cleanup.

Manufacturers are being called upon to take responsibility for their products, with some councils have even suggested that a tax should be imposed on confectioners to help pay for the cost of cleaning.

Led by Wrigley, the Chewing Gum Action Group (CGAG) is stepping up its campaign to make sure gum is disposed of properly after chewing, in a bid to forestall any tax.

Wrigley believes advertising with a focus on educating people as to the magnitude of the problem will prove more effective than a tax.

Wrigley communications manager Alex MacHutchon said the company doesn't feel that a tax on gum would offer a solution to the problem.

"A tax on gum does not offer a long-term solution to the problem of gum litter,"​ said MacHutchon told ConfectioneryNews.com. "In fact, research demonstrates that a tax on gum would lead to an increase in incorrect behavior with respondents claiming they would be more likely to litter as they had paid for it to be cleaned up."

He believes education backed by stiff fines is the means to tackle the problem.

"Gum litter is caused by the irresponsible behaviour of a minority of chewers, who need to be educated to dispose of their litter properly,"​ he said.

A staggering 3.5 billion pieces of gum are estimated to have been spat out on Britain's streets in the last 100 years.

Last week local authorities joined together to pay for a full-page advert in the UK's Guardian newspaper highlighting the cause.

The CGAG, last week, also sent out a guide to councils to help them tackle the costly problem.

CGAG is now calling for applications for funding to tackle the problem.

Applications for funding the "Binning your gum when you're done" publicity campaign must be received by 3 February.

The organization will pay for advertising in selected campaign area's, with the aim of educating people as to the affects of their gum disposal.

Advertising will also serve to inform people of new £75 fines for gum related littering.

Wrigley is said to have contributed £600,000 to the group so far since it was founded in 2003 and a spokesperson said the company was delighted at the launch of a national campaign.

The guide and new campaign for 2006 was launched following the success of three pilot schemes ran last year.

Campaigns in Maidstone, Manchester and Preston had a positive response. There was an 80 per cent reduction in gum litter in Preston following the pilot.

The UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) expects the campaign to be successful.

"There is no doubt the Chewing Gum Action Group is leading the nationwide push to reduce gum litter on out streets,"​ a Defra spokesperson said. "And through the Action Group's work, we really hope to help local authorities reduce gum litter, reduce the money they spend on cleaning it up and, in turn, help increase the pride people have in their communities."

CGAG brings together chewing gum manufacturers, the local government association, the chartered institute of waste management, ENCAMS, DES, the improvement and development agency and Defra.

Singapore has famously taken the issue of gum disposal somewhat further.

A complete ban on chewing gum in the country was enforced until 2002.

However even now it is only available to those with a medical prescription.

Gum had been banned since 1992, and there were serious penalties for those smuggling gum into the state, in a bid to keep the city clean.

Related topics: Ingredients, Gum

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