The Gum Litter Taskforce Campaign was launched recently in Tullamore. This event was attended and supported by Elected Members Leas Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council Cllr Tony McCormack, Cathaoirleach of Tullamore MD Cllr Neil Feighery, Cllr Declan Harvey, Cllr Danny Owens), Tullamore Chamber of Commerce, Tullamore Tidy Towns Association as well as Chief Executive of Offaly County Council Anna Marie Delaney with staff from Tullamore Municipal District, Offaly County Council.

Taskforce reports big reduction in gum litter

Ireland has achieved a 70% reduction in chewing gum litter since 2007, according to the Gum Litter Taskforce (GLT), the National Awareness Campaign to make gum litter an issue of the past.

The study from GLT, also shows that gum litter now accounts for only 8% of all litter compared with 2007, when the campaign was launched. The GLT National Awareness Campaign has ambitions to further build on the remarkable success and reach of the programme to date.

The renewed campaign, which is funded by Mars Wrigley, will run for a fifth cycle until 2025 on the back of a remarkable 70% reduction in gum litter since the initiative first began in 2007.

Cathaoirleach of Tullamore Municipal District, Cllr Neil Feighery said the Gum Litter Taskforce has led to a phenomenal shift in people’s attitude to litter with chewing gum dropping to a record low as a result of the awareness campaign.

"It has also increased knowledge of the fine associated with gum litter, with 81% of those surveyed after the campaign now aware of the €150 fine. However, just over one in four (27%) claim never to have dropped gum, highlighting the continued importance of this awareness and behavioural change campaign, particularly for future generations.”

Tullamore Tidy Towns Association Chairperson Shane Murray also welcomed the ‘Bin It!’ education programme which travels to schools and 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.

“Tullamore Tidy Towns Association welcomes educational campaigns that assist the great work undertaken by volunteers in our Tidy Towns network. We are always looking for volunteers so please get in touch with us via our social media channels or meet us at our weekly clean up on Wednesdays at 7pm in Kilbride Plaza.” added Mr Murray.

The programme will also see the GLT continue to work with local authorities across the country to promote greater gum litter awareness and education programmes in their areas, through the GLT annual roadshow. To date the campaign has engaged with over 30 local authorities across the country, hosting awareness initiatives and localised launch events and providing materials to promote community-led action on gum litter. The roadshow will start in Dublin, before travelling nationwide between the months of June, July and August to promote responsible gum disposal with the help of local authorities.

Minister Ossian Smyth, said: “What’s particularly pleasing to see is that the campaign continues to resonate with the people of Ireland, with each year seeing further positive changes in people’s attitudes and behaviour towards gum litter.

“The success of the Gum Litter Taskforce demonstrates the forward-thinking, joined up approach of industry, local communities and local government that is necessary to further drive the objective of changing the public’s gum disposal behaviour.”

Gum Litter Taskforce Project Manager, Avril Donlon of Food Drink Ireland, welcomed the return of the campaign, and praised the success of the campaign to date

Corporate Affairs Manager at Mars and Mars Wrigley Ireland, Nicola Forde, commented: “The success of the campaign to date is a testament to what can be achieved when Government, local communities and industry work together, and I’m very excited that the GLT will continue its great work for another cycle. I’m particularly pleased to see the ‘Bin It’ campaign will reach a higher number of schools than ever this cycle, allowing us to engage with more students across the country. Educational engagement and encouraging positive behaviours from a young age will have long-term positive effects on Ireland’s attitudes towards litter.

"It’s also great to see continued engagement from local authorities throughout each cycle of the campaign, as it demonstrates the tangible results they’re seeing in the reduction of gum litter in their communities.”

The National Gum Litter Awareness Campaign 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. Chief Executive of Offaly County Council Anna Marie Delaney also welcomed this initiative and thanked Tullamore Chamber and Tullamore Tidy Towns Association for their continued support in this campaign.