£25,000 to tackle sticky issue of chewing gum on Canterbury’s streets

Canterbury City Council is putting plans in place to remove the chewing gum that blights the city’s streets after receiving a £25,000 grant to tackle the issue.

The council is one of 56 across the country that have successfully applied to the Chewing Gum Task Force, now in its second year, for cash to clean gum off pavements and prevent it from being littered again.

Established by the Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) and run by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, the Chewing Gum Task Force Grant Scheme is open to councils across the UK wishing to clean up gum in their areas and invest in long-term behaviour change to prevent it from being dropped in the first place.

Cllr Charlotte Cornell, Cabinet Member for Heritage, Open Space, Waste and Recycling said: “We really appreciate this grant from the Chewing Gum Task Force because it will make a real difference.

“Having said that, if people who choose to chew gum also chose to dispose of it properly rather than being a little lazy and selfish, we wouldn’t need this money.

“My son loves having the treat of a bit of chewing gum now and then, but he’d never throw his gum on the street.”

The council will be using the grant to clean off chewing gum in key city centre streets in Canterbury, including:

  • St Peter’s Street
  • High Street
  • The Parade
  • Rose Lane

It will also launch a series of signs across the district encouraging people to put their gum in the bin rather than throwing it on the floor.

The task force is paid for by major gum manufacturers including Mars Wrigley and Perfetti Van Melle, with the investment spread over five years. This year the selected councils will receive more than £1.65 million.

Monitoring and evaluation carried out by the not-for-profit social enterprise Behaviour Change has shown that in areas that benefitted last year a reduced rate of gum littering is still being observed six months after clean-up and the installation of prevention materials.

Estimates suggest the annual clean-up cost of chewing gum for councils in the UK is around £7 million and, according to Keep Britain Tidy, around 77% of England’s streets and 99% of retail sites are stained with gum.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Littering blights our communities, spoils our countryside, harms our wildlife and wastes taxpayers’ money when cleaning it up. That’s why we’re working with gum producers to tackle chewing gum stains.

“After the success of the first round of funding, this next slice will give councils further support to clean up our towns and cities.”

In its first year the task force awarded 44 grants worth a total of £1.65 million, benefitting 53 councils who were able to clean an estimated 2.5km2 of pavement, an area larger than 467 football pitches.

By combining targeted street cleaning with specially-designed signage to encourage people to bin their gum, participating councils achieved reductions in gum littering of up to 80% in the first two months.

Allison Ogden-Newton, Keep Britain Tidy’s Chief Executive, said: “Chewing gum litter is highly visible on our high streets and is both difficult and expensive to clean up, so the support for councils provided by the Chewing Gum Task Force and the gum manufacturers is very welcome.

“However, once the gum has been cleaned up, it is vital to remind the public that when it comes to litter, whether it’s gum or anything else, there is only one place it should be – in the bin – and that is why the behaviour change element of the task force’s work is so important.”

Notes to editors:

The Chewing Gum Task Force

The Chewing Gum Task Force brings together some of the UK’s major chewing gum producers (Mars Wrigley and Perfetti Van Melle) in a new partnership to remove gum litter from UK high streets and prevent future littering.

The scheme, administered by independent charity Keep Britain Tidy, sees the chewing gum firms invest up to £10 million over five years to achieve two objectives; cleaning up historic gum staining and changing behaviour so that more people bin their gum.

In the first year of the scheme, specially-designed signage to encourage people to bin their gum, combined with targeted street cleaning by the participating councils, achieved reductions in gum littering of up to 80% in the first two months.

Less gum litter was still being observed six months after clean-ups and the use of prevention materials.

Behaviour Change

Behaviour Change is a not-for-profit social enterprise, founded in 2009. It creates social and environmental change, with big ideas grounded in behavioural science.

Through a five-year innovation programme and collaboration with chewing gum manufacturer Mars Wrigley, it created and tested a range of ways to encourage responsible behaviour, which resulted in local reductions of gum littering by up to 64%.

These interventions have now been made available for deployment by councils as part of the Gum Task Force Grant Scheme.

Keep Britain Tidy

Keep Britain Tidy is a leading environmental charity. It sets the standard for the management of parks and beaches, inspires people to be litter-free, to waste less and live more sustainably.

It runs campaigns and programmes including the Great British Spring Clean, Eco-Schools, Love Parks, the Green Flag Award for parks and green spaces and the Blue Flag/ Seaside Awards for beaches.

Published: 18 July 2023

Sign up for email alerts

You can sign up to receive notifications when a post is added to an area you’re interested in.

Sign up