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New street cleaning campaign launched in London

Posted on: Thursday, October 1st, 2015

The Chewing Gum Action Group (CGAG) has launched its national campaign to reduce gum litter, starting with Oxford Street, one of the busiest streets in London.

In previous years the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has claimed that for every ten pieces of gum chewed, seven will end up on the ground.

Further to this, the BBC found that as far back as 2004, 66 per cent of UK pavements suffered from chewing gum litter. However, through the work from CGAG, 12 areas they worked with last year in the UK saw a 38 per cent reduction of dropped gum in monitored areas.

Some of these areas even reported reductions of up to 90 per cent, showing that their work with local authorities and business improvement districts (BIDs), yields positive results. The group's latest leg of their national campaign is bidding to transform Oxford Street's grey pavements by using brightly­coloured circles to highlight the amount of gum dropped on the ground. Representatives from the group took to Oxford Street recently, circling every piece of gum between John Prince's Street and Holles Street with water soluble, fluorescent chalk.

The idea was to attract public attention with these eye­catching dots, dispersed along one of the capital's busiest streets. Following the measle­patterned approach to attract attention, representatives from Chewing Gum Action Group have been cleaning Oxford Street throughout October, restoring its original attractive paving. In 2014, the amount of chewing gum removed from Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street would have covered nearly 86,000 square metres. Environmentally, dropping or spitting out chewing gum is a serious cause of visual pollution, tampering with the look of pavements, parks and other public spaces.

Another cause for concern is the amount it costs to remove chewing gum, dropped by inconsiderate passers­by. Chewing gum is unlike other forms of litter and cannot be removed through normal cleansing regimes, instead requiring specialist removal that is expensive and only has short­term benefits. Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs, Rory Stewart MP has said previously that councils spend nearly £56 million per year cleaning chewing gum off the streets.

Due to the council money cost and visual issues, it is important for efforts to be increased at the source, engaging residents and shoppers about the problems that dropped chewing gum causes. CGAG are largely funded by gum manufacturers, including global brand The Wrigley's Company.

It's due to the work from the group and its funders that an £80 fine was instigated several years ago for anyone caught leaving gum on the street. Now, it is up to the nine BIDs and local authorities around the UK, taking part in this new campaign to further reduce the amount of chewing gum on British streets to its lowest record yet.