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Welsh chewing gum tax doesn’t stick

By Oliver Nieburg+

25-Oct-2012

The bill had hoped to tackle gum litter on streets
The bill had hoped to tackle gum litter on streets

The Welsh Assembly has rejected plans to introduce a 5p levy on chewing gum.

A private member bill from Welsh Conservative Darren Millar was struck down in the Welsh legislature by 30 votes to 17 yesterday.

The proposal aimed to curb gum littering on streets in Wales, but had been met with criticism from leading gum manufacturer Wrigley.

Had the bill passed, consumers in Wales would have paid a 5p tax at the point of sale on each chewing gum pack with proceeds going towards improved enforcement, educational campaigns and clean-up costs.

Wrigley: detrimental effect

Wrigley welcomed the decision. A spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the Welsh Assembly has decided not to progress with the idea of a chewing gum tax."

"We share concerns over littered gum and have invested in public awareness campaigns and schools programmes in Wales to educate the public about responsible disposal."

Wrigley previously told this site that the levy would give consumers a license to litter and would damage dental health.

“Such a tax may deter some consumers from buying chewing gum and this could have a detrimental effect on the UK's oral health, as chewing gum is beneficial for dental health.”

“The only effective, and sustainable, solution to littered gum is to encourage people to dispose of their used gum responsibly,” said a spokesperson.

Wrigley previously thwarted an Irish gum tax in 2005 through its lobbying efforts and ended up pledging €7m to a campaign fund aimed at reducing litter in Ireland.

ConfectioneryNews.com has asked Wrigley if it will pledge a similar amount to schemes in Wales.

Enviro-gum

The industry is currently looking at other ways to prevent gum litter on streets.

Degradable gum bases that breakdown faster on pavements could go some way to addressing the problem.

UK polymer firm Revolymer has a degradable chewing gum called Rev7 that uses a disintegrable gum base which degrades between two to three months in drains and in less than two years on pavements.

Wrigley and its largest rival Mondelez International, makers of Trident gum, are both acting to find an environmentally friendly gum solution.

Wrigley has its R&D department at work, while Mondelez is looking for collaborators. See HERE.