Whilst out shopping a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by the state of the pavements and the amount of chewing gum everywhere. Tourists and visitors get a poor impression of the cleanliness of our streets, and for residents it seems to be a permanent eyesore, appearing on almost every pavement, station, bus station, shopping centre, car park and public transport in cities across the UK.
Cleaning up gum in Britain costs an estimated £60 million per annum and there has been an ongoing debate for some time, with Local Councils asking for financial help to solve the problem.
Pressure on the chewing gum industry
There is growing pressure now for chewing gum manufacturers to contribute to the cost, however, according to a recent article in the Times.
the chewing gum industry is being “let off the hook” over the damage it causes in many streets around the country. According to the Times, the largest gum seller in the UK with 95% of total sales, only contributes 1% of that sum to support the Chewing Gum Action Group.
Can we stop people from dropping chewing gum?
Discarded gum is unpleasant but is largely ignored and those who drop it presumably don’t give a second thought as to who is going to clean it up. Nor do they consider anyone who, on a hot day has it stuck to their shoes, trailing it elsewhere on the street or in to their homes. A visit to any fair sized town will confirm that this has become an epidemic, though a largely ignored one.
In Singapore for example, chewing gum is considered to be so toxic there are severe restrictions placed on its use. Read more in this BBC article.
In the UK, there is the provision for a fixed penalty notice and fine for anyone dropping litter (including chewing gum) but perhaps we need to go further than that. Chancellor Philip Hammond is launching a consultation on plastic waste, to include chewing gum, which is not water soluble and takes months to decompose, so can be harmful to wildlife too. So perhaps things will change and chewing gum litter will eventually become a thing of the past, but what to do in the meantime?
Cleaning up gum – chewing gum removal machines
Because it isn’t water soluble, cleaning up chewing gum is a 2-step process, firstly to remove the gum, then to wash the surface – otherwise, even if the gum has been removed, the result is still a patchy looking pavement. At B&G we’ve helped many customers to clean up chewing gum over the years and have some recommended products to solve the dilemma facing councils and owners publicly accessed properties.
One way is to use a pressure washer accessory like the Gum Blaster, which is portable quick and easy to use. Weighing in at 2kg it can easily be steered into awkward corners and concentrated on small areas with minimal overspray, making it easy to use in areas where public access should not be impeded. The Gum Blaster will loosen even dried, crusted on gum, which it then collects into a chamber ready for proper disposal. After cleaning heavily gum affected areas we recommend a further surface jet wash to clean the affected areas so that the gum cleaned areas do not stand out.
See the Gum Blaster in action here
Alternatively, the Matrix GTS Chewing Gum Removal System has been specifically designed for cleaning up chewing gum. In a self-contained machine which uses its own generator to heat the gum with steam, then apply detergent which is agitated using a brush attached to the steam nozzle. With a continuous fill boiler, this machine is suitable for use over large areas.
If you need advice, give us a call, we’re happy to help.