Gum boards may tackle sticky problem

POSTERS depicting hate-figures chosen by the public could be dotted around a west Suffolk market town for people to stick their chewing gum against.The idea of “gum target boards” is to be looked at by St Edmundsbury Borough Council as part of its bid to tackle the growing problem of discarded chewing gum.

POSTERS depicting hate-figures chosen by the public could be dotted around a west Suffolk market town for people to stick their chewing gum against.

The idea of “gum target boards” is to be looked at by St Edmundsbury Borough Council as part of its bid to tackle the growing problem of discarded chewing gum.

Officially, only fresh chewing gum is classed as litter. Once it becomes “impacted” (trodden in) it is no longer counted as litter by the Department of Food and Rural Affairs and technically does not have to be cleaned up.

Borough council staff have decided to ignore the Government's distinction and is planning major operation to combat all chewing gum litter.


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And, as well as cleaning up “impacted” and fresh chewing gum, the council is to look into the idea of putting up special boards with faces chosen by the public against which chewers can squash their masticated gum.

Jeremy Farthing, council cabinet member responsible for the environment, said: “I like the idea of chewing gum posters. They have been used by Bournemouth Borough Council and they take about 1,600 pieces away from the boards each week.

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“We will continue to combat chewing gum. Chewing gum is the cockroach of litter. It costs £10,000 each year to clear up. That is how much it costs the taxpayer - it is their money. Even with our specialist equipment it is difficult to clean up.”

Bournemouth Borough Council tried the poster board system before eventually scrapping it. Nobody from the council was available for comment, but in a report by the council on street cleaning, the council said: “Most, including the younger group, did not however seem to like the gum boards that can be found on lamp-posts.”

Laura Butcher, spokeswoman for the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign, said: “Chewing gum is difficult to clean up, especially when it has been trodden in to the pavement.

“That's why when gum gets to the trodden in stage, it is no longer classed as litter because it cannot be swept up like other littered items such as paper or sweet wrappers.

“A one off clean-up of old chewing gum in a town centre costs around £30,000 which many councils can't afford.

“Keep Britain Tidy would like to see councils educate the public about the problems of dropping gum on the streets and fine more people who do so.”

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