COUNCIL BOSSES have warned of the “serious and costly” problem of clearing gum from the city’s streets as calls were made for manufacturers to make a “substantial contribution” to the clean up bill.
It costs Leeds Council £59,000 a year to clean gum from the city’s streets, and in the worst affected areas, there are 300 pieces of gum per square metre, Coun Mark Dobson, executive member responsible for cleaner, safer and stronger communities said. He has called on people to bin their gum responsibly, as councils across the country unite in calling for more action from chewing gum manufacturers to tackle the issue.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said it costs £60 million a year for councils to clean gum from the streets, and wants a “producer pays” principle to be introduced so that manufacturers are obliged to help shoulder some of the cost.
Coun Peter Box, LGA Environment spokesman and leader of Wakefield Council, which spends £140,000 a year on street cleaning, said: “Chewing gum is a plague on our pavements. It is a blight which costs councils a fortune to clean up and takes hours of hard work to remove.
“The chewing gum giants should be making a substantial contribution to help with the sterling work that councils are doing in removing it.”
The average piece of gum costs about 3p to buy but around £1.50 - fifty times that price - to clean up. The LGA also want producers to switch to a type which is biodegradable and easier to remove.
Coun Dobson added: “Chewing gum is a blight on our streets. It is very difficult and expensive to remove. All we ask is that people put their gum in a wrapper or scrap of paper and throw it in the bin instead of throwing it on the floor and spoiling the city for everyone.”