New machines to help tackle sticky issue of chewing gum

Gum-busting equipment uses brushes, steam and eco-friendly detergents to remove unpleasant litter.
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Gum-busting machines help clean up Newcastle's streets.

Council staff are on a mission to rid Newcastle’s streets of unsightly chewing gum with the help of two new gum-busting machines.

Newcastle City Council’s cleansing teams have been kitted out with the new equipment to tackle the sticky issue and make the city’s streets cleaner and more attractive places for residents and visitors.

The machines remove all traces of gum by using a combination of brushes, steam and eco-friendly detergents.

Staff are initially targeting high footfall areas such as the streets around Newcastle Central Station, before expanding the clean-up operation across the city.

New signage has also been installed near the station to encourage people to bin their gum.

The machines and signage have been funded by the Council and a £25,000 grant from the Chewing Gum Taskforce, managed by charity Keep Britain Tidy.

The programme of work is being delivered by the Council’s Operations and Regulatory Services and Place directorate. 

Cllr Marion Williams, Cabinet member for a Connected, Clean City at Newcastle City Council, said: “Chewing gum stains are really unpleasant and can be expensive and time-consuming to remove. 

“These new machines are a brilliant addition to our street cleaning services and enables us to tackle the issue more effectively.

“It is great to see they are already having a positive impact in our communities and improving the appearance of our streets.

“While it’s fantastic we have these new machines, we must remind everyone that they are responsible for making sure their rubbish, including chewing gum, is put in the bin.

“It is really important everyone does their bit so our city remains the clean, attractive and welcoming place we all want it to be.”

According to Keep Britain Tidy, the annual clean-up cost of chewing gum for UK councils is estimated at around £7m and approximately 77% of England’s streets are stained with gum.

The Chewing Gum Task Force is supported by major gum producers, including Mars Wrigley and Perfetti Van Melle, who have collectively pledged up to £10m over five years to combat gum littering.

Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, Keep Britain Tidy's chief executive, said: "Chewing gum litter is highly visible on our high streets and is both difficult and expensive to clean up, so the support for councils provided by the Chewing Gum Task Force and the gum manufacturers is very welcome. 

“However, once the gum has been cleaned up, it is vital to remind the public that when it comes to litter, whether it's gum or anything else, there is only one place it should be – in the bin – and that is why the behaviour change element of the task force’s work is so important."