While the streets of London are definitely not paved with gold the pavements the streetscape of most of Britain’s towns and cities including Borisland appear to be suffering from a virulent attack of measles or chicken pox.
Next time you’re in a queue or simply ambling along window shopping cast your eyes downwards and play the game of counting the number of bits of trodden in chewing gum that you can see. Yes all those black or white stains are simply trodden in gum, spat out by Joe Public and there are millions of them out there.
This scourge is increasing exponentially as anti-smoking initiatives drive people to change their habits but older habits die hard and just like ciggie butts used to be discarded without a thought so it is with gum despite the exhortations’ on the packaging.
It has been estimated that the ongoing clean up war against gum costs local authorities – that is you and me the taxpayer, between £150 – £200m a year to remove. Even then the effectiveness of the removal is only visible for a matter of days.
Also this cost doesn’t take into account the disruption caused by the use of steam cleaners, pressure washers and the esoteric range of chemicals used to dissolve the offending staining. There is also the initially unseen damage caused to block paving and the de rigueur expensive pavoirs s by the ‘blowing out’ of the sand between the blocks. This causes the loss of the integral strength of the walkway leading to slumping and movement of the actual blocks themselves which in turn is further exacerbated by the weight and torque of mechanical street cleaning sweepers leading to ruts and potentially expensive ‘slips and trips’ claims.
The answer may be at hand though with the development of a new form of chewing gum polymer which it is claimed does not effect the chewability or ‘mouth texture’ of the gum and which doesn’t require any changes in the actual production process of making the ‘chewie’ This last point is crucial if there is to be any form of take-up by the major international manufacturers who are governed by the bottom line and the need for affordability with such a spur-of-the-moment purchase.
These new polymers, if adopted, will lead to gums which are either easier to remove using simply water and abrasive action or which will degrade within 6 months to a fine powder. These benefits are not restricted solely to hard surfaces but are also effective on clothes, shoes and hair which will delight any mother who has children.
Approved by U.S. food safety authorities and currently going through the final stages of European approval it is hoped that the product could soon be adopted by the big names in the gum world such as Wrigley or Kraft. Alternatively, if the take up requires extra momentum, we could take a leaf out of the 10 year old, successful Singaporean method of addressing the problem and simply make the import and sale of non-medicinal gum illegal and backed up with heavy fines.
Columbus Dixon Jan 2011