Discarded gum makes a mess of our streets and it’s expensive to clean up. A chewing gum ban has been proposed in Milton Keynes, but is a ban the best way to keep our towns and cities tidy?
I don’t often chew gum, but when I do I always dispose of it carefully. Vivid memories of trying to remove gum from various shoes and clothes ensure I’d never consider throwing gum on the ground.
But it seems that many gum-chewers do just that, and the evidence is all around us. In Milton Keynes, the organisation After8 (created to improve the experience for visitors and residents) found 22 pieces of discarded gum in just one square foot of pavement.
That rather revolting discovery has led to After8 calling for a ban of chewing gum to be enforced. This would create potentially gum-free zones in public places like Xscape and the theatre district.
Chewing gum is classed as litter, so it’s already covered by the Environmental protection Act 1990 and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act. After8 presumably wants these laws to be more strictly enforced, so that gum throwers are more likely to face a fine.
The cost of chewing
The cost of cleaning up gum is massive, so a ban could save money for Milton Keynes in the long term. The charity Keep Britain Tidy estimates that the average cost of cleaning gum from a town centre is £20,000. To keep the streets clean, busy towns and cities probably need to spend that amount a few times a year.
But would a ban work if the sale of chewing gum isn’t stopped? After all, the ban in Singapore is helped by the selling and importing of chewing gum being prohibited. If there’s no gum available, enforcing a ban seems more straightforward.
Last time we spoke about chewing gum, you shared your ideas for solving the problem. And although some of you supported the idea of a ban, the most popular suggestion was to target the people who drop gum and change their attitude to litter. Community service for culprits was mentioned as a more suitable punishment than a fine.
There’s one solution that could make a big difference to the problem: biodegradable gum. Developed in Britain, Rev7 has recently gone on sale in Ireland. The gum is less sticky and can be cleaned from streets and clothes without needing chemicals. That seems like a gum-free step in the right direction to me.
Would you like to see chewing gum banned in public places?
Yes - it would keep our streets cleaner (77%, 835 Votes)
No - there are other ways to stop chewers littering (23%, 244 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,079