Council applies for cash from chewing gum firms
Last updated Mar 28, 2024
Photo of deep-cleaning of the town centre's streets in Harrogate.

The drive to clean chewing gum off the county’s streets has taken a step forward following a decision by North Yorkshire Council. 

The local authority has agreed to apply for a grant of up to £27,500 from Keep Britain Tidy to purchase specialist chewing gum removal equipment. 

Keep Britain Tidy is administering the grants on behalf of the Chewing Gum Task Force, which brings together some of the UK’s major chewing gum producers, including Mars Wrigley, which makes Orbit and Extra, and Italian-Dutch firm Perfetti Van Melle, best known as the maker of Fruit-tella and Smint, in a partnership to remove gum litter from UK high streets and prevent future littering. 

Participating firms have pledged to invest up to £10 million over five years to achieve two objectives: cleaning up staining caused by gum and changing behaviour so that more people bin their gum. This is the third year that grants have been available, but this is the first time that North Yorkshire Council has applied for a grant from the fund.

The grants are supplemented by fully-funded gum litter prevention packages for each council, including targeted behaviour change signage and advice, designed and produced by social enterprise Behaviour Change. 

Last year, 55 councils across the UK benefitted from the grant fund, and the £1.65 million distributed helped clean more than 100 acres of urban streets.

By combining targeted street-cleansing with specially designed signage to encourage people to bin their gum, participating councils have seen reductions in gum littering of up to 80% in the first two months, with a reduced rate of gum littering still being observed after six months.

However bad North Yorkshire’s gum problem is, many other places have it far worse. Mexico City, for example, employs an army of full-time gum-cleaners, and New York dubbed the “gum splotch capital of the world” by the New York Times has been waging a well-publicised but losing war against discarded gum since the 1930s. Singapore even banned chewing gum in 1992, and people spitting it out onto the street risk fines of up to $1,000.

North Yorkshire Council’s decision to apply for the grant was only approved by the its Corporate Director, Environment and Assistant Director, Resources on Wednesday (March 27), but the deadline for grant applications to Keep Britain Tidy fell at midday today.

The Stray Ferret has asked North Yorkshire Council whether the deadline was met.

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