Chewing Gum Litter

Chewing gum litter is present in most town centres. It is difficult and costly to remove. not only is chewing gum the most prevalent form of staining, it is the most persistent. Highly resistant to aggressive chemicals with strong adhesion, chewing gum does not degrade and retains these properties over a long period of time, under all weather conditions.

Impacted gum can not be dislodged by routine street cleaning, but requires specialist procedures and equipment such as power washing. Manual scraping, steam cleaning and cryogenics are also used. However, these procedures are expensive; interfere with normal pedestrian flow and generate noise. removal is slow, can damage pavements and grouting, and often the oily deposit left behind once the chewing gum has been removed is just as unsightly as the gum itself.

The use of chewing gum is becoming more and more popular, especially sugar free gum. In line with the rise in chewing gum sales, the amount of gum dropped on Gibraltar's streets is also increasing. H.M. Government of Gibraltar is then left with the responsibility of removing it.

What is Chewing Gum?

The base of any chewing gum contains either a natural or synthetic latex (rubber). It is this property which determines the chewiness, flavour retention and shelf life of the gum. It also means that the gum:

  • is stretchy,
  • it will retain its properties indefinitely under all weather conditions,
  • it is resistant to chemicals, and
  • has strong adhesion.

As chewing gum does not decompose when dropped on the ground, deposits gradually accumulate until they are removed during cleansing. The staining left behind poses another problem for local government, the oily deposit left behind after the gum has been removed can often look as unsightly as the gum itself. With greater public awareness about environmental quality, fewer people are willing to accept low standards of cleanliness and as a result, more pressure is placed on H.M. Government of Gibraltar to improve standards.

The Impact of Chewing Gum on our Local Environment

Our local community is becoming more aware of the environmental quality of the areas in which they spend their time. Local government is keen to promote the concept of liveability, which is linked to local environmental quality. Wads of gum spat on our streets looks unsightly, as well as causing problems of sticking to people's shoes and clothing. There are also issues of hygiene as saliva is attached to gum. The problems tend to be worse around takeaways, pubs and clubs, and Main Street.

Research conducted shows that whilst most people are responsible citizens and would not drop large pieces of litter, many people do in fact drop small pieces of litter whilst in the street environment. Typical offenders are smokers and gum chewers. The research also shows that less responsible citizens who do drop other forms of litter will justify this behaviour if they feel their environment is already littered.

Therefore, in order to stop dropping chewing gum on the street, keep in mind the following:

  • Save the chewing gum wrapper for when you have finished chewing. Use this wrapper to enclose the spent chewing gum and dispose of at the next nearest public bin.
  • Carry a small packet of tissues along with your chewing gum pack. If the chewing gum pack does not have individual wrappers, use a tissue to enclose the spent chewing gum. Dispose of the tissue and spent gum at the next nearest public bin.