Council chiefs are calling on chewing gum manufacturers to contribute to the £60m annual gum removal cost to councils.
Recent research by Keep Britain Tidy found 99% of main shopping streets and 64% of all roads and pavements are stained by chewing gum.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said money from gum manufacturers would enable stretched councils to fill in many potholes and help tackle the £14bn pothole repair bill.
The average piece of gum costs about 3p to buy, but up to 50 times that to clean up per square metre (£1.50). Most chewing gum is not biodegradable and once it is trodden into the pavement this requires specialised equipment to remove.
Gum manufacturers should also be switching to biodegradable and easier-to-remove chewing gum, the LGA said.
‘Chewing gum is a plague on our pavements. It’s ugly, it’s unsightly and it’s unacceptable,’ LGA environment spokesperson Cllr Judith Blake said.
‘At a time when councils face considerable ongoing funding pressures, this is a growing cost pressure they could do without.’
‘It is therefore 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,’ she continued.
‘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.’