The Highland Council will launch a new campaign today, Monday 5 September 2011, to raise awareness of chewing gum litter in the Highlands and urge residents to dispose of their gum responsibly. The council has partnered with the Chewing Gum Action Group (CGAG), an organisation chaired by DEFRA and funded by the chewing gum industry, to challenge consumer behaviour and support the group’s annual drive to tackle the problem of gum litter in the UK.
The CGAG campaign, now in its sixth year, works with councils to develop local initiatives to reduce levels of chewing gum litter. The Highland Council is among 12 Local Authorities signed up to the 2011 activity – the first in Scotland to take part.
Over the next few weeks, The Highland Council will run CGAG’s impactful advertising across a selection of outside media spots, including roadside banners, bus stops, lampposts and telephone kiosks. The adverts will remind residents to bin their gum or they could risk a fine of up to £50.
Figures have shown that Local Authorities involved with the CGAG advertising programme see their gum litter reduced by an average of 43%*, with some Authorities reporting even greater levels of gum litter reduction. Following last year’s campaign, Coventry City Council reported an 84% drop in gum litter, with Oldham and Gosport councils reporting drops of 74% and 69% respectively.
Councillor John Laing, Chairman of The Highland Council’s TEC Services Committee said: “Chewing gum litter is a significant problem in our streets and public spaces. We have partnered with CGAG to raise awareness of the issue and encourage local residents to take action. In addition to this launch in Inverness, there will be a Highland-wide poster and MFR radio campaign to urge people in all Highland towns to change their chewing gum disposal habits for the better.”
Welcoming the launch in Inverness, Provost of Inverness, Councillor Jimmy Gray said: “We hope this campaign will challenge gum chewers to re-think how they dispose of their chewing gum and understand that it’s the responsibility of each individual to bin their gum and help reduce litter levels in Inverness. In doing so we can expect to see improvements both to the local appearance of our City and in cost savings.”
The business community is supportive of the CGAG campaign, Chairman of Inverness BID, Craig Duncan added: “The unsightly mess of chewing gum anywhere is unwelcome but particularly outside of shops and businesses is an extremely unattractive presentation for our customers. BID members are fully behind this campaign to improve the amenity of our City centre.”
Commenting on the causes of chewing gum litter, behavioural psychologist Professor Geoff Beattie said: “When a person drops a piece of litter like chewing gum it is often a thoughtless, mindless act but with important social consequences for all of us – it changes the neighbourhood and makes it a worse rather than a better place to live, not because of that single piece of litter on its own, but because of the effect that single piece of litter has on others. We know that once litter is on the ground others are more likely to throw litter down as well, so the neighbourhood becomes less and less pleasant as a consequence.
“People need to be more aware of their routine actions; they need to realise that we are all connected and these connections between us can make all of our lives better or worse. Sometimes a moment’s thought could make all the difference. We could show respect for our surroundings by pausing and reflecting, instead of just giving into our unconscious impulses, we could make our neighbourhoods better, we could influence each other in positive ways and watch how things change.”
CGAG brings together a number of organisations including DEFRA, Keep Britain Tidy, the Food and Drink Federation, the Local Government Association, Welsh Assembly Government, Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland, Keep Scotland Beautiful and the chewing gum industry. It has been running successful campaigns to change the behaviour of irresponsible gum disposal since 2006. This is the first time that a CGAG campaign has been run in Scotland.
CGAG campaign co-ordinator Natalie Forrester said: “With 12 Local Authorities signed up to the new campaign, we aim to build on the excellent gum litter reduction results of previous years. We hope that more consumers than ever will take positive action and dispose of their gum responsibly. Binning used gum is a small action which can have big consequences for the local area.”