Skip to main content

Chewing Gum Waste

Save Your Sole - Or you could be fined up to £100 if you do not Bin Your Gum!

Chewing gum is a very difficult type of litter to deal with, because it is so sticky and takes up to five years to biodegrade.

Normal cleaning methods like street sweeping and litter picking do not work, so the Council has to resort to more extreme methods like jet washing to remove it.

This can cost a lot of money — Keep Britain Tidy reports that it can cost up to £1.50 per square metre to clean up chewing gum. This is money that could be spent on key frontline services!

Discarded chewing gum is a major, and growing, problem, especially in town centre areas. Blobs of gum on the street can make an area look dirty, even when it’s clean.

Chewing Gum Facts

  • on average, a piece of chewing gum costs about three pence, but the cost of removal is about 10 pence per piece
  • chewing gum takes up to five years to biodegrade
  • some countries are considering putting a tax on gum to help pay for the clean-up costs
  • in Singapore, chewing gum is banned unless you have a prescription from your doctor or dentist
  • 650,000 metric tonnes of chewing gum were produced worldwide in 2005 and predictions are that the quantity will reach over 1 million tonnes by 2010. That’s equivalent to the weight of 2,423 fully laden Boeing 747-400 planes
  • 935 million packs of gum are chewed by 28 million people in the UK every year. In other words, almost half the UK population chews one piece of gum per day for 47 weeks of the year
  • 80/90% of chewing gum is not disposed of in any litter receptacle
  • after the Smoking Ban was introduced in Ireland, gum use increased by a staggering 30%
  • modern day based chewing gum was an accidental invention. Thomas Adams, a New York inventor, was trying to make a material for car tyres. Today’s gum is made from the similar synthetic rubbers - hence it’s non-biodegradable
  • the UK Government estimated that it spent £158 million trying to clean up chewing gum in 1997. Independent analysts believe the true cost could be three times this amount
  • in April 2006, discarded chewing gum was defined as litter for the first time under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act. Gum droppers can be subjected to an on-the-spot fine of up to £100

The removal of chewing gum is a time-consuming and costly exercise.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has a special high-pressure washer system to remove chewing gum from our streets and pavements, which it does on a rolling basis around its town centres and streets.

However, this is not the sustainable answer!

If you chew gum, please ensure that you put it in a bin. If there is no bin available, wrap it in a piece of paper and wait until you do find a bin.