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Chewing gum tax calls in Northern Ireland

By Oliver Nieburg+

20-Nov-2012
Last updated the 21-Nov-2012 at 10:08 GMT

Alliance Part wants gum levy to pay for clean-up costs on streets Photo credit: Flickr -  haracat3
Alliance Part wants gum levy to pay for clean-up costs on streets Photo credit: Flickr - haracat3

A political party in Northern Ireland is pressing for a domestic chewing gum tax to pay for clean-up costs on streets.

The Alliance Party is urging the Minister for the Environment Alex Attwood MLA to introduce a tax after its research found that removal costs in some city centers amounted to tens of thousands of British pounds each year.

Appeals to Northern Ireland Assembly

Alliance MP Naomi Long said: "After thoroughly researching the matter it remains unclear whether Northern Ireland Assembly would have the power to raise a specific levy on Chewing Gum products to cover prevention and clean-up costs."

“I have therefore tabled a question to HM Treasury in an effort to establish if any legal basis exists for a tax and, if not, whether Northern Ireland can be offered a place at the Action Group table."

Alliance councillor Andrew Muir added: “No longer should chewing gum companies be able to cream a nice profit each year whilst rate payers suffer the financial burden of removal.”

The Alliance Party holds 8 seats out of 108 in the Northern Ireland Assembly and has one MP in the British House of Commons.

Alliance Party research: Estimated clean-up costs per year

Bangor Town Center - £16,000 ($25,000)
Holywood Town Center - £6,000 ($10,000)

Its calls come shortly after the Welsh Assembly rejected a 5p chewing gum levy in Wales. See HERE.

Wrigley on gum taxes

Leading gum manufacturer Wrigley opposes gum taxes and favors awareness raising campaigns to combat littering.

It has an ongoing education campaign in Northern Ireland and recently extended its ‘Litter Less’ education program to ten new countries.

The Mars-owned company previously thwarted a gum tax in the Republic of Ireland in 2005 through its lobbying efforts.

Wrigley’s three-year $3.1m Litter Less program is now present in 25 countries.

The Republic of Ireland is not among the recipient countries, although Wrigley previously campaigned in the state.

The industry has been looking at other ways to combat gum littering, including gums that degrade quickly on pavements. UK firm Revolymer has launched one such gum with its Rev7 brand and major players Wrigley and Mondelez are considering their own disintergrable gums. See HERE.

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