Sticky issue that needs a new approach
The uninitiated walking around Ashford town centre may wonder what the thousands of white blobs on the pavement are.
No, they’re not pigeon droppings – they are the downtrodden residue of chewing gum, carelessly dropped on the pavement by the chewer.
Ashford is no different to any other town or city in the UK in having an abundance of chewing gum blobs everywhere.
But it’s maybe not that suprising when you consider that apparently 28 million Britons spend £400 million a year on the habit.
And, of the 13,000 tonnes of gum that are chewed every year, an estimated 10% is spat out on to the street, resulting in an annual clean-up bill estimated to be as high as £150m!
It usually takes workmen/ women for councils like Ashford at least 10 seconds to remove one blob. It costs three pence to make a stick or piece of gum, and about £1.50 to remove it from a pavement.
Overall the figures are fairly horrifying. There are said to be 250,000 pieces of old gum on London’s Oxford Street alone.
So we reckon it’s about time Ashford Borough Council (ABC) considered following the lead of other towns and cities in introducing dedicated chewing gum bins.
It’s been done in Cardiff, for example, where a pilot project to try to help clean up the city’s streets has seen 100 bins, called Gumdrops, in place for six months initially, with the gum collected in the bins recycled to produce new bins.
The scheme is funded by a chewing gum firm and run in partnership with Cardiff council and Keep Wales Tidy.
It’s a zero-tolerance campaign, a bit like the one that ABC now operates in Ashford town centre to combat litter dropping generally.
Sian O’Keefe, senior manager of corporate affairs at Wrigley, said the company was pleased to be involved in the Cardiff project, adding: “Encouraging behaviour change is the only long-term and sustainable solution to the problem of littered gum and we are totally committed to tackling this issue.”
The government has previously considered a £50 fine for anyone caught dropping chewing gum in the street and looked at banning the sale of gum in shops around schools and swimming pools to deter children from leaving it everywhere.
ABC has demonstrated that it is committed to keeping our streets clean by engaging Kingdom litter enforcement officers to patrol the town centre, so we reckon a valuable further step would be to look at the possibility of installing some chewing gum bins.
And if it could secure sponsorship, the cost would be minimal but the benefits huge.
A few weeks back we outlined the issue of having two Christmas trees dumped at the back of the Kentish Express offices in Park Street.
They’ve been there now for about six weeks and are now starting to shed their needles.
We have unfortunately drawn a blank in establishing the identity of who dumped them there... although we have our suspicions as recycling and food waste bins (probably from the same source) appear on the same path each week, waiting to be emptied by the Biffa binmen.
We have contacted ABC about getting the Christmas trees taken away but have been told that because they are on private property is is our responsibility to take them away.
Fair enough, but it seems a bit ridiculous that we have to clear up what is, in effect, fly-tipping on our back doorstep.
We are currently considering our options, as they say.
Chewing gum stuck on a shoe; chewing gum bin; Christmas trees dumped outside the back of the Kentish Express office