Chewing gum
The government is keen for Britain's pavements to be clear of any littered chewing gum in the future. Andrew Kelly/Reuters

A reported 56 councils in Britain are set to be handed £1.2 million in total funding to help remove chewing gum off the nation's streets and bring awareness to gum littering, ensuring it is reduced moving forward. This is the second round of funding from the Chewing Gum Task Force and the areas to receive funding include Liverpool, Sunderland, Ipswich, Cardiff and Glasgow.

The Chewing Gum Task Force has been operating for two years and was put in place by The Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It was introduced as it aligns with the government's plan announced two years ago to transform high streets throughout Britain.

The task force is managed by the charity, Keep Britain Tidy, and receives investment from chewing gum manufacturers. Its goal is to make the pavements clear of any gum whilst making sure that no gum is dropped on the streets to start with.

The latest funding being handed out includes up to £25,000 for councils to help with the clean-up of gum alongside a specialised and fully accounted-for package to prevent gum littering. Also, some areas will be monitored over a longer period and evaluated by the non-profit social enterprise, Behaviour Change.

Last year the grants handed out to individual councils were worth up to £20,000 to aid with street removals and with acquiring cleaning equipment. Councils that were working alongside one another to generate better results were able to access funds of up to £70,000.

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, touched on the need to put funds towards reducing litter in the streets of Britain. She pronounced: "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."

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

The current gum littering situation in Britain is quite severe as estimations reveal it could cost roughly £7 million for councils each year to remove chewing gum. Also, Keep Britain Tidy has noted that 99 per cent of retail places and 77 per cent of roads in the nation are smeared with gum.

It is a criminal offence in Britain to litter and the government is coming down hard on any culprits. This is as the Prime Minister's Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan has stated that the maximum on-the-spot penalty for littering and spraying graffiti will rise from £150 up to £500 later on in 2023.

Leading gum manufacturers in Britain, Mars Wrigley and Perfetti Van Melle were encouraged by the task force to align over a plan to prevent gum littering and have put forward £10 million to support that over the coming five years.

Corporate affairs director for Mars Wrigley UK, Naomi Jones, expressed delight at working with the task force. She stated: "We're pleased to be supporting the work of the Chewing Gum Task Force again this year. We'll be funding and partnering with another 56 councils, across the four nations, in 2023."

The Chewing Gum Task Force successfully carried out gum cleaning duties in its first year of operating as 44 grants totalling £1.2 million were handed out to 53 councils. The amount of pavement that was cleaned up amounted to a distance larger than 467 football pitches.

In the first couple of months, the councils involved were able to cut down on chewing gum littering by up to 80 per cent due to the pavement cleansing and work done to educate residents on not littering.

Places such as Grimsby were able to enforce sufficient change with gum cleansing in its town centre due to the use of machines from Eco Removal Systems. The gum marks were cleaned through an eco-friendly detergent which was formed through sugar beet, and that was heated up before being sprayed onto the gum stains to dissolve it.

Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy, Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, spoke on the significance of educating people about littering and how it is the next important stage after the streets have been gum-cleansed.

She explained: "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."

This second funding round orchestrated by the task force comes amidst the PM's Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan looking to be stamped down through other avenues this week as the government looks for significant change to be enforced in regard to people misbehaving in Britain's streets.

Elsewhere, Just Stop Oil protestors were recently criticised for their disruption during a match at this year's Wimbledon tournament, where they were seen littering one of the playing courts with plastic jigsaw puzzle parts and debris.