Gum firms join forces to clean up high streets with £10m investment

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Leading chewing gum producers have formed a new task force to remove gum litter from the high streets.

Announced by Environment Minister Rebecca Pow today (30 August), the task force is part of the government’s new high streets strategy and will see gum firms invest up to £10 million over the next five years.

The task force, which includes Mars Wrigley, GlaxoSmithKline and Perfetti Van Melle, is managed by independent charity Keep Britain Tidy.

Around 87 per cent of England’s streets are stained with gum, and the annual clean-up cost of the chewing gum litter is estimated at £7m, according to research by Keep Britain Tidy.

The investment, starting later this year, will be used to clean up historic gum litter staining and use behavioural interventions to encourage people to bin their gum. Previous pilots have reduced gum littering by up to 64 per cent.

“This new scheme means chewing gum producers are not only helping to clean up towns and cities as they welcome people back to our high streets, but crucially taking action to prevent people littering in the first place,” Pow said.

Jonny Briscoe, Managing Director, Perfetti Van Melle – PVM UK, added: “As an organisation serious about corporate responsibility, Perfetti Van Melle is committed to help with the clean-up of Britain’s streets and to educate consumers about the importance of responsible gum disposal.”

Littering is a criminal offence and the government has already empowered local authorities by increasing on-the-spot penalties for offenders to £150, rising to up to £2,500 if convicted in court.

The “Keep it, Bin it” anti-litter campaign, supported by Defra and funded by Mars Wrigley, encourages people to dispose of their litter responsibly, calling time on rubbish excuses for littering and telling people to keep hold of their rubbish until they find a bin.