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I was delighted to learn that the Local Government Association is demanding that chewing gum manufacturers help more with the growing, £multi-million cost of removing discarded gum. Like other types of litter, discarded gum is a real bug-bear of mine. The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, is calling for gum manufacturers to contribute to the £60 million annual gum removal cost. It says that this would enable councils, which are experiencing ongoing funding pressures, to fill in more than a million potholes - another bug-bear of mine!
Recent research by Keep Britain Tidy found that 99% of main shopping streets and 64% of all roads and pavements are stained by chewing gum. The average piece of gum costs about 3p to buy - but up to 50 times that to clean up per sq.m (£1.50). Most chewing gum is not biodegradable and once it's trodden into the pavement, specialised equipment is required to remove it.
"At a time when councils face considerable ongoing funding pressures, this is a growing cost pressure they could do without," says LGA Environment spokesperson Cllr Judith Blake. "It's reasonable to expect chewing gum manufacturers to help more, both by switching to biodegradable gum and by contributing to the cost of clearing it up. While awareness campaigns the industry is involved in have some value, they are not enough by themselves. The industry needs to go a lot further, faster, in tackling this issue. "Councils have no legal obligation to clear up the gum. They do it for the benefit of their shoppers, town centre users, businesses and residents; to make the pavements more attractive and the environment better. Councils want to work with the industry to find solutions to this ongoing problem."
I'm behind the LGA 100% on this one... Finally, thanks to reader Liz Jones who's put me straight on last week's comment about pre-hospital admission body washes. Liz says: "A 5-day course of body-washes with chlorhexidine is a part of the protocol for surgery and an important part of the comprehensive approach to infection prevention that reduced MRSA in England by well over 50%. There are many academic papers to spell out the economic value of preventing infections - and it is far greater than the cost of a bottle of chlorhexidine."
Thank you Liz. No doubt, I'm not the only one who's learnt from this!
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20th April 2017