Chewing gun companies have been told they must contribute to the £60million bill to remove gum from Britain’s streets.
The appeal is issued today by the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents almost 400 councils in England and Wales.
It believes the chewing gum firms must stump up a ‘substantial’ sum of the costs to remove the ‘plague on our pavements’.
LGA environment spokesman councillor Peter Box said: ‘Chewing gum is a blight which costs councils a fortune to clean up and takes hours of hard work to remove. It’s ugly, it’s unsightly and it’s unacceptable.
The UK gum industry is a multimillion-pound business and we believe in the principle of the “polluter” paying. The chewing gum giants should be making a substantial contribution to help with the sterling work that councils are doing in removing it.
‘Councils have no legal obligation to clear up the gum. They are doing the right thing but unfortunately the manufacturers are not.
‘We acknowledge firms are contributing to litter prevention campaigns. However, given the size of the bill faced by councils in these tough economic times, this isn’t cutting the mustard.’
The average piece of gum costs about 3p to buy but around £1.50 – fifty times that price – to clean up, according to the LGA.
Councils are also calling on producers to switch to a type which is biodegradable and easier to remove.
The problem of discarded gum is most acute in towns and city centres.
Westminster Council says almost three million pieces are dropped on the streets in the West End of London each year.
Ed Argar, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for city management, transport and infrastructure, said: ‘Dealing with the sticky mess of discarded chewing gum on our streets swallows a huge amount of resources, in terms of both money and man-hours.
‘Something needs to change if we are to find a real and lasting solution to the problem, rather than just dealing with the consequences.’