Crackdown to be launched on gum chewers littering streets

A CRACKDOWN on chewing gum disposal is set to be launched in Rotherham to tackle the expensive and “significant problem” of gum being dropped on the streets.

Rotherham Council is one of 12 local authorities across the country to have signed up to the 2011 campaign by the Chewing Gum Action Group, which is chaired by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and funded by the chewing gum industry.

The £700,000 Chewing Gum Action Group campaign, now in its sixth year, involves putting up advertising hoardings reminding people to dispose of their gum responsibly at roadside banners, bus stops, lamp posts and telephone kiosks.

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The advertising is being funded wholly by the chewing gum industry, while Rotherham’s neighbourhood wardens and South Yorkshire Police will be encouraging local businesses to display posters in their windows.

Figures have shown that councils involved with the Chewing Gum Action Group advertising programme see their gum litter reduced by an average of 43 per cent, with some authorities reporting even greater levels of gum litter reduction.

Following last year’s campaign, Coventry City Council reported an 84 per cent drop in gum litter, with Oldham and Gosport councils reporting drops of 74 and 69 per cent respectively.

Coun Richard Russell, cabinet member for waste and emergency planning for Rotherham Council, said: “Chewing gum litter is a significant problem in Rotherham’s streets and public spaces.

“We have partnered with the action group to raise awareness of the issue and encourage local residents to take action.

“We hope this campaign will challenge gum chewers to re-think how they dispose of their chewing gum and understand that it is the responsibility of each individual to bin their gum and help reduce litter levels in Rotherham.

“In doing so we can expect to see improvements both to the local appearance and in cost savings.”

Commenting on the causes of chewing gum litter, behavioural psychologist Professor Geoff Beattie said: “When a person drops a piece of litter like chewing gum it is often a thoughtless, mindless act but with important social consequences for all of us.

“It changes the neighbourhood and makes it a worse rather than a better place to live, not because of that single piece of litter on its own, but because of the effect that single piece of litter has on others.

“We know that once litter is on the ground others are more likely to throw litter down as well, so the neighbourhood becomes less and less pleasant as a consequence.”

He added: “People need to be more aware of their routine actions. They need to realise that we are all connected and these connections between us can make all of our lives better or worse.”

The Chewing Gum Action Group has been running campaigns since 2006 and brings together a number of organisations including Defra, Keep Britain Tidy, the Food and Drink Federation, the Local Government Association and the chewing gum industry.

Chewing Gum Action Group campaign co-ordinator Natalie Forrester said: “With 12 local authorities signed up to the new campaign, we aim to build on the excellent gum litter reduction results of previous years.

“We hope that more consumers than ever will take positive action and dispose of their gum responsibly.

“Binning used gum is a small action which can have big consequences for the local area.”

As well as Rotherham, those authorities backing the Chewing Gum Action Group’s 2011 campaign are Cambridge City Council; Carmarthenshire County Council; Chelmsford Borough Council, Croydon Town Centre Business Improvement District; Gosport Borough Council; Newport City Council; Nottingham City Council, The Highland Council; Tunbridge Wells Borough Council; Wolverhampton City Council and Glasgow City Council.