Tax on chewing gum sought in Ireland

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Gum Chewing gum

Chewing gum manufacturers should switch to biodegradable alternatives or be subject to a levy in the interim in order to tackle the costly issue of littered chewing gum, claims a consortium of Irish businesses.

Campaign group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) claims that about 20 per cent of the 700 million pieces of gum sold annually in Ireland are dropped on the streets by consumers, and it claims that chewing gum makers such as Wrigley should bear the brunt of cleaning up the streets through a tax on gum, a move it said could also bolster the tourist industry.

IBAL, at the launch of its 9th Anti Litter League this week, also called on the Irish government to withdraw support for the industry’s anti-gum-litter campaigns.

Hike in gum litter

A spokesperson for IBAL told that, in order to collate data on the litter related to products such as chewing gum and fast food, it commissions environmental group, An Taisce, to review 600 sites throughout Ireland several times a year.

“This research has shown that there has been a significant increase in the presence of gum in the past 12 to 18 months and it indicates that the government backed industry funded campaigns aimed at creating behavioural change in consumers are not realistic.

As a business group, we are essentially opposed to further levies on manufacturers but taxation is the one option that could focus the minds of the major chewing gum producers to move from conventional gums towards biodegradable forms,”​ he said.

Ministerial backing

According to the Irish Times, the minister for the environment, John Gormley, who attended the IBAL launch, has not ruled out the implementation of a levy on packets of gum but that he was open to discussing the matter with gum makers.

The article also reported the minister as stating that he was concerned at levels of gum litter and that he was not renewing the agreement with the sector in relation to an anti-gum education campaign.

Gormley also said that while research into a viable biodegradable form of chewing gum was still on-going, his preference would be for an approach involving an industry funded gum clean-up programme, states the Irish Times.

Biodegradable version

Meanwhile, last year saw a consortium of Mexican co-operatives use an organic gum base as the key natural ingredient for a new biodegradable gum, which entered UK retail outlets in 2009.

According to the Mexican co-operatives, which include around 2,000 farmers, one of the compositional advantages of its Chicza Rainforest gum is biodegradability.

"Once disposed of, its all-natural components will become dust within weeks,"​ they claim.

Produced by Consorcio Chiclero, the latex gum used in the formulation is extracted from the rainforest's chicozapote tree that can live and produce gum for 300 years.

"The natural gum base is made by boiling until sticky the latex from the tree sustainably. These trees will not yield latex if planted outside their natural environment,"​ said the co-operative.

Related topics Regulation & safety Gum

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