The Chewing Gum Taskforce
The Chewing Gum Taskforce
Go into any town centre and you are likely to see chewing gum blighting the streets. Chewing gum is resistant to a lot of removal methods, and it doesn’t degrade, so it can be an unsightly nuisance if it’s discarded.
Regular street cleaning does not remove chewing gum, and it requires either jet washing, steam cleaning, or cryogenic methods to fully remove it. These methods are all expensive, and can cause damage to pavements and a leftover stain from oily residue.
So why is chewing gum so hard to remove?
Chewing gum is based on natural or synthetic latex. This gives the gum its chewiness, the ability to retain its flavour, and a long shelf life. These are all very good for making it appealing for consumers. But unfortunately, this also gives the chewing gum its strong adhesive qualities and a resistance to chemicals which makes it a nightmare to clean up from the streets.
As chewing gum does not decompose when it is discarded on the ground, deposits accumulate unless they are removed with proper cleaning methods. The gum leaves an oily deposit or stain behind, even when it has been removed. This can look just as bad as a pavement with chewing gum stuck to it.
The Impact of chewing gum
Discarded chewing gum not only looks unsightly, it is difficult and expensive to remove, and it sticks to clothing and shoes.
If an area is already covered in gum, it makes people think that it is acceptable to drop their gum or litter too.
The chewing gum taskforce
A Gum Litter Taskforce and education campaign has been launched in the town of Ennis in County Clare, in Ireland.
The campaign was launched in the presence of the council environment staff, local environment organisations, and school children.
There has been considerable success in changing behaviours around the disposal of gum, and according to a survey, 6 out of 7 people now say that they always ensure that they dispose of gum correctly.
It is hoped that the scheme can be replicated up and down the country, and that many more communities become involved in tackling the issue of unsightly discarded chewing gum. The organisers say that there is still work to do however, especially in targeting the minority that still drop gum in the street.
They are encouraged by the survey that seems to suggest that more people now realise that dropping gum is littering, and that more people now say that they always dispose of it responsibly. It is especially positive that these increases are noted in younger people, who tend to be the people who drop the most litter according to the figures.
Younger people are being targeted by advertising campaigns, and a dedicated schools’ education programme called ‘Bin It!’
The Wrigley Company is supporting the campaign, and assists with the funding of awareness and education projects. The campaign also has the backing of local government, the national government, and other partners from environmental organisations to representatives from the Irish food and drink industry.