Close up image of chewing gum on the streets

Plans to remove the chewing gum on the streets after receiving a £27,000 grant to tackle the issue.

We are one of 54 councils across the country to 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 Emma Morley, Cabinet Member for Operational Services, said: “There’s nothing worse than treading in someone else’s discarded gum and then treading into your home or car carpets.

“Discarded gum also stains pavements and other pedestrian areas, leaving them unsightly and difficult for our teams to clean.

Portrait of Cllr Emma Morley, Gravesham Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Operational Services,


“This is the second year we have received a grant from the Chewing Gum Task Force, and as before, we will be putting the money to good use, not only using specialist equipment to clean gum from our streets and pavements, but also working to educate and enlighten those who don’t currently bin their gum.”

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 440,000m2 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.”

Published: Wednesday, 10th July 2024