Last week, Mayor of Waterford City and County Cllr. John O’Leary officially launched the Gum Litter Taskforce’s gum litter education campaign in Dungarvan, alongside members of Dungarvan Tidy Towns.
The Gum Litter Taskforce is an environmental initiative that was set up to develop and implement an awareness campaign to reduce gum litter in the most sustainable way. Since 2007, Ireland has achieved a 70% reduction in chewing gum litter. The study from the Gum Litter Taskforce, also shows that gum litter now accounts for only 8% of all litter compared with 2007, when the campaign was first launched. The 2019 campaign maintained an all-time high of 93% of people stating that they regard chewing gum as litter, up from 74% when the campaign first began 14 years ago, pointing to the attitudinal impact which the campaign has had.
The latest results of the National Litter Pollution Monitoring report showed the percentage of gum as a proportion of litter at 9.4%, down from 10.6% the previous year (2019). More than three in five (63%) people agree that the campaign is at least fairly likely to stop them dropping gum, the highest level seen in the current campaign. 48% of respondents claimed that they stopped dropping gum because they saw the Bin-It campaign, up from 41% in 2019 and 60% of people said the campaign has made them want to change the way they dispose of their gum.
Of the launch Mayor O’Leary said, “I am delighted to be attending the launch of the Gum Litter Taskforce campaign. The success of the Gum Litter Taskforce’s campaign to date is a testament of what can be achieved when local authorities and the community work together. We look forward to working alongside the Gum Litter Taskforce to ensure that our beautiful Déise remains Ireland’s Cleanest City”. Waterford was judged by IBAL to be Ireland’s Cleanest City in 2020 and 2021, with Dungarvan and other towns receiving awards in the 2021 Tidy Towns Special Awards.
Ella Ryan, Environmental Awareness Officer, Waterford City and Council spoke about the importance of community with a campaign such as this. “Incorrect disposal of gum not only destroys the physical appearance of our beautiful city and towns, but as it can only be removed by using special equipment, the removal can also damage our footpaths. The littering of gum is also extremely harmful to wildlife as are the chemicals which may need to be used to remove discarded gum. Through continuing to engage with people and educating them on the harm of gum litter, we can work to make gum litter on the streets of Ireland a problem of the past”.
As part of the Gum Litter Taskforce the ‘Bin It!’ education programme will travel across the country and deliver 60 performances a year to primary schools nationwide, with the ambition to visit 180 schools by 2025.
The ‘Bin It!’ school roadshow encourages students to responsibly dispose of litter, and particularly gum litter, through actor-led workshops. The latest cycle of the campaign will see the programme shift its focus from secondary school students to students in fifth and sixth class, and a return to in-person workshops, and kicks off in September.