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Council awarded funding to tackle the sticky issue of chewing gum on the borough’s streets

Chewing gum being cleaned off a street by the Chewing Gum Task Force
Chewing Gum Task Force (copyright Keep Britain Tidy)

A grant from the Chewing Gum Task Force, administered by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, will help Brentwood Borough Council clean up gum and reduce gum littering.

Brentwood Borough Council is putting plans in place to remove the chewing gum that blights local streets after receiving a £27,500 grant to tackle the issue.

The council is one of 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.

Councillor Barry Aspinell, Brentwood Borough Council’s Chair of the Clean and Green Committee said: “I welcome this initiative by Keep Britain Tidy and the Chewing Gum Task Force that enables the council to clear up gum litter in high footfall areas such as Brentwood High Street. It’s important to say this grant is funded by the chewing gum industry itself and the task force awards grants to councils to remove gum litter, as well as provide us with tried and tested behaviour changing signage to prevent future gum littering.

“I’m sure our residents will see the difference and we will monitor how this works to see if it’s possible to extend this further in the future.”

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, added: “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.”