Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Local authorities reduce chewing gum litter by 43%

Local authorities reduce chewing gum litter by 43%

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (n/a) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 16 March 2009

Fifteen local authorities taking part in the 2008 Chewing Gum Action Group campaign have successfully reduced chewing gum litter in their areas by 43 per cent, figures published today show.

Minister for Sustainable Development and Energy Innovation Lord Hunt said:

"Cleaning up litter costs hundreds of millions of pounds a year and removing chewing gum is not only expensive, but also very difficult. The best way to end the problem is by changing the behaviour of the minority so we can all live in a pleasant environment. I congratulate local authorities on their success and urge more to come forward."

To build on this success and to continue tackling chewing gum litter, the group is calling for new partners to come forward for the next campaign.

Anyone interested can apply to take part in the campaign by visiting a new dedicated website at, which provides information on how to tackle gum litter effectively.

Running from August to October last year, the campaign used hard-hitting advertising to encourage users to dispose of gum responsibly. Those authorities chosen to take part in the next campaign will receive paid-for advertising in their area and support from the group to help reduce chewing gum litter.

The individual results for the campaign partners in 2008 were:

Blackpool Council 54%

Cambridge City Council 17%

Croydon Town Centre Business Improvement District 34%

Doncaster MBC 47%

Middlesbrough Council 47%

Mole Valley District Council 36%

Nottingham City Council 50%

Borough of Poole Council 20%

Rushmoor Borough Council 62%

Test Valley Borough Council 62%

Wigan MBC 39%

Wolverhampton City Council 38%

Worcester City Council 51%.

Notes to editors

1. The Chewing Gum Action Group worked with the 15 partner local authorities, providing support materials and paid-for advertising. The campaign visual was available free of charge for any local authority or organisation that wished to run its own campaign.

2. The London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham and Enfield have yet to return data.

3. The Chewing Gum Action Group is chaired by Defra and brings together representatives from the chewing gum industry, ENCAMS (which runs the Keep Britain Tidy campaign), Local Government Association (LGA), local government representation, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, the Food and Drink Federation, and professional media design and market research interests.

4. The chewing gum industry is working closely with Government and other partners to tackle the problem of chewing gum litter through the Chewing Gum Action Group. Industry has committed an annual sum of £700,000 to the Chewing Gum Action Group. As a key member of the Action Group, the chewing gum industry also provides additional support.

5. More information on the group, past campaigns and research can be found at

6. Local authorities that have not been selected for paid-for campaigns can still use the campaign creative if they choose to do so.

7. Chewing gum was explicitly defined as litter under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. The offence of dropping litter can lead to a maximum fine of £2,500 after summary conviction. A local authority can offer a person found to litter a fixed penalty notice as an alternative (for a first offence).

8. The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 gave greater powers and flexibility to local authorities to enforce against local environmental offences. The Fixed Penalty Notice level for litter can now be locally set between the range £50 to £80. A discount can be offered for early payment. Those authorised to issue fixed penalty notices must meet training and competence requirements.

9. The Group is encouraging all local authorities to make use of the enforcement opportunities available to them in maintaining acceptable levels of local environmental quality, and to take action against those responsible for littering.

10. The Local Environmental Quality Survey of England has found chewing gum staining in 96% of primary retail and commercial sites.

11. It can be expensive to remove chewing gum from surfaces. It is possible that local authorities that carry out regular cleansing can spend up to £200,000 a year. It has been suggested that the average spend is in the region of £13,000 a year, but this will vary between local authorities depending on the amount of litter and attention spent on cleansing.

12. This year's campaigns ran under the banners 'Sin / Bin' and 'Guilty / Not Charged' making use of wordplay on improper vs proper disposal and appropriate vs illegal disposal. This was the second year that this artwork had been used to campaign on chewing gum litter. An awareness campaign also ran in 2006 under the banner, 'Thanks for Binning Your Gum, When You're Done'. The campaigns were informed by research into the attitudes and awareness of droppers commissioned by the Group in 2004.

13. The average percentage change in deposits of gum litter in 2007 was 58% overall, compared to 43% in 2008. The following individual results were achieved in 2007: Blackpool 85%; Bedford 16%; Braintree 49%; Brighton and Hove 32%; Bristol 59%; Canterbury 47%; Colchester 60%; Enfield 39%; Gosport 4%; Kirklees 35%; Leeds 37%; Mansfield 14%; Middlesbrough 34%; Oxford 86%; Test Valley 57%; Wolverhampton 57%.

14. For further information please contact Keren McCarron or Rebecca Wilhelm on 020 7420 7132/7140 or

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