Council appoints chewing gum waste ambassador

A photo of a chewing gum removal machine as presented to members of the council's environment committee
Donal McMahon

A Co Down council is appointing a ‘Chewing Gum Ambassador’ and sending workers onto the streets with backpack cleaners to tackle the sticky rubbish problem.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has been awarded a £20,000 grant by the Keep Britain Tidy Gum Task Force clean-up fund.

Grants of up to £70,000 were available for combined applications of two or more council areas for a greater clean-up impact.

While the UK is not pursuing a Singapore style ban on gum, the council is now in a position to tackle the waste problem and to educate consumers on the environmental impact of spitting out chewing gum on public streets.

The council’s assistant director of waste management, Sinead Murphy, told the sustainability and environment committee that a figurehead was required to take forward the new tidy streets campaign.

She said: “It is anticipated that the chewing gum cleansing project will commence in the early autumn and will be reviewed at the end of the project and further intervals of six and 12 months.

“The application requested the successful applicants would nominate an ambassador to champion the fund. It is recommended that an elected member is nominated to this role.”

According to council documents, the district wide programme will see 36 small ‘gum drop’ style bins attached to traditional waste bins. There will also be new signage as well as hand-held gum removal units to be used by council staff.

Images shown to councillors on the committee suggest a backpack style gum hoover device may be used to clear streets of gum. The ‘ambassador’ will spearhead education on waste.

SDLP Rowallane councilor Terry Andrews, who accepted the nomination to be ‘Chewing Gum Ambassador’, said the issue of gum on the streets was on par with the that of dog dirt.

“Chewing gum on footpaths is terrible, people should just take it home with them, it is as bad as dog fouling,” said Mr Andrews.

“It is up to individuals to keep their own district clean from such pollution on our streets. I will do my best in the role as ambassador.”