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Chew on this, gum makers tell councils

Sweet makers have hit back at claims that producers should pay for the clean-up of chewing gum from streets.

Councils representing the five home nation capital cities last week called for Wrigley to pay towards the £150 million annual cost of spat-out gum.

They also mooted the idea of a tax on chewing gum sales across the UK and Ireland if the money was not forthcoming from the global manufacturer.

But the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionary Association - which Wrigley is a member of - has insisted that educating chewers will take priority to funding clean-ups.

A spokesman said: "The chewing gum industry is already working with the Local Government Association, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Department for Education and Skills, ENCAMS and the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management to find ways of preventing the real cause of gum litter - irresponsible disposal.

"The outcome of the work of this group will be put into place during 2005.

"We believe that working with DEFRA through the Chewing Gum Action Group, in addition to other education programmes, rather than a tax on manufacturers or the 28 million chewers of gum - many of whom chew for the health benefits it delivers - is a better way to tackle gum litter."

The Gum Council - made up of Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Cardiff and Westminster councils - made three pledges at its inaugural meeting last week.

These were:

  • To put pressure on Wrigley to create a fund to educate people who discard gum and to help with cleaning costs
  • To shame those who drop gum into realising it is antisocial and unhygienic
  • To pressure the Government into funding research into biodegradable gum.

Edinburgh City Councillor Robert Cairns added: "We support a levy on gum to raise funds for local authorities to successfully clean the streets."

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