Peer pressure revealed as number one deterrent of gum littering

by Gazette Reporter
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Peer pressure has been identified as the number one deterrent of gum litter, according to the Gum Litter Taskforce (GLT), the national awareness campaign which aims to make gum litter an issue of the past. 

Research published this week to coincide with the National Launch of the 2023 GLT Campaign revealed that negative perception by others was the primary reason that those surveyed no longer littered their gum waste (58%). Knowledge of the €150 fine was also a leading factor, followed by negative experience of chewing gum litter. 

The findings highlight the continued impact of the GLT, a joint initiative of the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, Food Drink Ireland, and the chewing gum industry, which has played a key role in promoting proper gum litter disposal, since its launch in 2007. 87% of people now report proper gum disposal, versus 49% when the campaign began – an increase of 77.5%. 

Now in its sixteenth year, the GLT campaign travels to local authorities and schools across the country hosting its Summer and ‘Bin It!’ interactive Roadshows, which promote responsible gum disposal by highlighting the environmental impacts of gum and general litter. This year’s Summer Roadshow will begin its tour in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown and South Dublin on the 13th and 14th of June, before travelling to towns across the country during the months of June, July and August. 

Demonstrating its continued resonance, last year 73% of those who interacted with the campaign reported learning new information about the impacts of gum littering.

To date the campaign has seen gum reduce from over 26.4% of all litter, 8.6% in the most recent National Litter Monitoring Survey.

However, work remains to be done to further reduce this, as just 46% of people can claim to have never dropped gum on the ground, demonstrating the continued importance of the awareness and behavioural change campaign. 

Speaking ahead of the launch in Merrion Square, Minister Ossian Smyth welcomed the latest research and the return of the GLT campaign for the second year of its fifth cycle: “The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications is proud to play a part in this important initiative. Since 2007, the Gum Litter Taskforce has helped to drive a significant shift in attitude towards gum litter; gum litter now stands at 8.6% of all litter according to the 2022 National Litter Monitoring Survey, a remarkable decrease from the 26.4% it stood at when the campaign first began. 

“Each cycle of the campaign has delivered demonstrable progress in reducing gum litter on our streets, showing the impact that cross-collaborative initiatives such as this one can have. I look forward to continuing with our good work with industry and local authorities to build on the continued success of the GLT campaign to ultimately eradicate gum litter.”

Gum Litter Taskforce Project Manager, Jonathan McDade of Food Drink Ireland, welcomed the return of the campaign, and praised its success to date: “We are delighted to be launching the 2023 Gum Litter Taskforce campaign with the support of the Minister Ossian Smyth and the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications. Each year of the campaign has delivered significant improvements, and we look forward to continuing our education and local authority engagements nationwide over the coming months. We remain committed to making gum litter on the streets of Ireland a problem of the past.”

Corporate Affairs Specialist at Mars Ireland, Anne Sheeran, also welcomed the announcement: “Mars Ireland has been a proud partner of the Gum Litter Taskforce for the past 16 years. We are delighted to be kicking of the 2023 campaign with the support of the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications. We look forward to engaging with local authorities and students across the country to highlight positive environmental messages around proper gum disposal.”  

This year’s campaign will see representatives from the Gum Litter Taskforce working with local authorities and communities to carry out education and awareness initiatives that demonstrate the proper means of gum disposal and raise awareness of the environmental and fiscal impacts of improper disposal.

Then, in September, the Gum Litter Taskforce’s Bin It! education programme will travel across the country and deliver 60 performances a year to primary and secondary schools nationwide, with the ambition to visit 180 schools by 2025. This is in addition to useful lesson plan material that has been made available to almost 730 schools across Ireland. 

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