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'Ban chewing gum from Dublin' call

NO GUM please -- we're Dubs.

That's the message from a former Lord Mayor who is proposing to ban chewing gum from Dublin city to stop littering.

Cllr Vincent Jackson is calling on Dublin City Council to ask the Department of Environment to ban all chewing gum which is not biodegradable.

The move would put Dublin on a par with Singapore, which has an outright ban on chewing gum, or with countries like Israel and Germany which support the sale of biodegradable gum.

Cllr Jackson told the Herald that chewing gum is causing a huge litter problem, and it costs several hundred thousand euro to clean it up every year.

"It's a huge task to remove the chewing gum from the city streets, and there's a high level of steam equipment and a huge number of staff. You can only do it when people aren't around on the street, like very early in the morning," he said.

"It would take a seachange because that's what's required to reverse years and years of the 'anything goes' attitude with regard to the environment."

However, a spokesperson from the Department of Environment said it would not support the ban of chewing gum from Dublin.

"It is the responsibility of each individual to correctly dispose of their chewing gum in a suitable manner," he said.

Dublin City Council said it is spending a maximum of €1.13m over three years to clean chewing gum from the city's streets.

A spokesperson said the city council became a member of the Gum Litter Task Force when it was set up by the Government in 2006.

But Cllr Jackson insists that despite the best efforts of street cleaners and educators, the problem continues to persist.

"In any fast food restaurant, if you just put your hand under the table, you'll find it there because people tend to take the chewing gum out of their mouth before they start to eat."

He added: "It is doing damage. I sat in a cafe and got up and heard something sticking, and I felt something on the back of my trousers, and it was pink sticky bubble gum. My wife put it in the freezer and some of it came off, otherwise I would have had to throw it out."

None of the companies which produce chewing gum are based in Ireland according to the councillor, so new legislation would have no effect on our jobs.

"We don't have any indigenous industry in the country, so there are no jobs going to be in jeopardy. I'm not saying that we should ban it, but we should ban anything that's not biodegradable.

"If technology can get over the problems we have for stuff that lies on the ground for hundreds of years, then it would reduce the problems for generations tomorrow."