An urban landscape
RBKC Direct - Street Scene
Newsletter 13 | December 2006

Has the bubble burst?

Children removing chewing gum from a street pavement.

July saw the launch of the Council’s chewing gum busting campaign. Accompanied by extensive marketing the campaign sought to educate about the nuisance of littering the streets with used gum.

Initiatives raised awareness about the difficulties of removing gum and informed the public about the Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) they could face if caught dropping it onto the street.

Specially designed gum wrappers were also available in 12 retail outlets on Kensington High Street. However, despite the month long advertising campaign the amount of gum litter at pilot areas on the High Street had increased by 300 pieces. This article invites readers to give their suggestions about how this sticky situation might be tackled.

Campaign update

The July campaign achieved a high-profile start, kicking off with local school children hand-scraping gum from Kensington High Street. Part of a national campaign, which has itself attracted widespread coverage, the Council’s initiative prompted interviews with local radio stations and was reported in the Evening Standard.

However, the increase in gum on the High Street, despite the July advertising, questions whether there are other ways of addressing the problem. The increase in tourists using the High Street in the summer months may explain the reduced impact, but RBKC Direct would like to know what you think.

Over to you …

The gum busting education has been supported by the right to issue FPNs, to those who ignore the message and continue to create gum litter. Under new powers, the Council can issue FPNs of £75 to people caught dropping gum. None were issued during the campaign, but the Council’s Police Community Support Officers did speak to a number of people. Is strict enforcement the only way of ensuring people pay attention to the Council’s messages? Does the issue need to be tackled at a different level?

It is true that education and enforcement are two important levers that we can use. However, new technology may also help combat the problem. A company called Revolymer® has been developing a prototype for a gum base with a significantly reduced adhesiveness compared to unmodified bases.

Should there be greater pressure nationally to develop technologies that ease gum litter clean-up? Should we be lobbying manufacturers to develop biodegradable gum or is the only solution a tax on gum to fund the clean-up?

The Council welcomes your comments and suggestions on how the problem of gum litter might be brought to a sticky end. Email your comments on this story to

To find out more email

RBKC Direct

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