The council is leading a coalition of 20 cities in urging Wrigley’s – which produces 90% of chewing gum sold in the UK – to set aside 1p on every pack sold to help councils clean up littered gum.
But the plans have been labelled unfair by retailers and manufacturers alike, who favour an education and fines campaign targeting those dropping rather than selling the gum.
The Chewing Gum Action Group, set up by the government, Wrigley’s and the Keep Britain Tidy charity last year, is set to launch a nationwide campaign after successful trials in Preston in Lancashire, Manchester and Maidstone, Kent.
The ‘Thanks for binning your gum when you’re done’ campaign aims to change people’s attitudes with a series of high-visibility posters. In Preston, the campaign helped reduce gum litter by 80%.
One Westminster retailer commented: “I think the council has enough money to deal with this kind of thing already. Introducing a tax is not the answer. Although a penny on every pack does not seem much, it would have an effect on sales and wouldn’t solve the problem of people dropping gum in the first place.”
Wrigley’s communications manager Alex MacHutchon echoed the concerns: “A tax on gum does not offer a long-term solution to the problem. Research demonstrates that it could lead to an increase in incorrect behaviour, with people claiming they would be likely to drop litter as they had paid for it to be cleared up.”