Chewing gum makers could face tax to fund cleaning it up

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MPs across the political divide believe that a tax of up to 5p on a packet of chewing gum is necessary to pay to clear up litter linked to the sticky product.

The duty has previously been considered and dismissed by the Welsh Assembly and is considered by critics to be a burdensome “stealth tax” on business.

Chewing gum is one of the toughest items of waste to remove from the streets: the average piece of gum only costs about 3p, but the expense of clearing it up is 50 times that amount, at £1.50.


According to the Local Government Association, this amounts to a £60 million a year problem in England and Wales.

Clive Betts, the Labour MP who chairs the communities and local government committee, is understood to have been unimpressed by industry evidence that a tax would actually increase litter. 

In a Parliamentary hearing on litter last week, Wrigley’s senior corporate affairs manager, Alex West, argued “litter breeds litter” and argued that a tax “would not address the root cause of the problem”.

She said a small duty would mean that people would think “the clean-up is being paid for” and “incentivises people further to drop it because they think it is OK to do that”.

However, a committee source mocked West’s argument and said that a tax of no more than 5p is “probably not a bad idea”.

The recommendation for a levy will be made in a report to be published before the General Election.

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January 22, 2015 |
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