Press Coverage

New campaign targets chewing gum grime

Ealing Council

Official launch with Gos of Big Brother fam.

When: 10am, Monday 17th May 2004
Where: Outside Safeways, Acton High Street, W3

Ealing Council are launching a campaign aimed at encouraging people to be more responsible with the way that they dispose of their chewed gum, using boards called GumTargets conveniently located in Acton, West London.

By giving people an alternative place to put their gum, rather than the pavement, restaurant table, cinema or tube seat, The GumTarget(TM) Initiative aims to achieve long- term change in people's behaviour towards dropping gum. The campaign will seek to re-educate people that littering the streets with gum is not acceptable and that it is expensive and difficult for local councils to remove.

Joining Roni White, Ealing Council's anti-graffiti manager will be reality star housemate and chef Gos of last year's Big Brother show. Together they will be launching the initiative, using messages on the GumTargets to encourage gum chewers to stick their gum to the GumTargets instead of littering the streets of Acton with it.

Roni White said "Everybody hates ruining their clothes or sticking their foot in gum that's been spat out onto the street. Gum is a particularly difficult form of litter to get rid of as it's expensive to remove and soon builds up again.

"Spitting gum out is anti social and we want this campaign to help start changing people's behaviour and encourage them to think about better ways to dispose of their gum, which doesn't harm the environment. I hope that this initiative will help clean up Ealing's streets and improve the cleanliness of the town centre."

The GumTargets will carry a series of campaign messages including 'Who deserves your gum'. The campaign is the first of its kind for a London borough.

The GumTargets l have removable sheets fixed to the front , which will be changed six days a week by Meteora Limited, the company behind this innovative approach to gum litter.

One way of tackling the issue is to use specialist methods to clean the gum off the streets. It's both difficult and costly for local authorities to remove gum from streets. A clean up that was carried out in Hanwell, in Ealing last year cost £9,000 and it's estimated it costs local councils in the UK £150m a year to tackle the problem. Often the problem is found to be just as bad six months following a specialist removal campaign. Cleaning up gum by high-pressure jet washes can also damage paving stones and weaken the grout. It's hoped that The GumTarget(TM) Initiative will help change people's habits for good.

Ian Kenyon, Business Development Director for Meteora Limited added, "The problem with gum is that it makes an area that's otherwise clean and well-maintained appear littered and dirty. This initiative is about encouraging people to stick gum in a place where it can be controlled, removed and disposed of before it becomes a problem at street level."

The Council and Meteora Limited are hoping the Ealing campaign will be as successful as those in other areas, including Luton and Bournemouth where the GumTarget(TM)Initiative has already been well accepted by the public and demonstrated tangible results.

The GumTargets will be displayed along the high street for one year and if they are a success, the council hopes to roll the programme out to other town centres.

Gum Facts

  • Three and a half billion pieces of gum are disposed of every year in the UK, mostly in a thoughtless way.
  • Three-quarters of the population are believed to be regular gum-chewers.
  • The number of packs of gum bought every year in the UK is 980 million.
  • Most gum-users are aged between 16 and 44, evenly divided between men and women.
  • The cost of removal in the UK alone is thought to be up to be in excess of £150 million per year.
  • The annual UK confectionery market is worth approximately £5.5 billion. Chewing gum is the fastest growing part of the confectionery business in the last 5 years.
  • At any one time Oxford Street is littered with up to 300,000 pieces of gum.
  • Turkey is the largest producer of chewing gum with more than 60 firms.

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