Cllr. Michael Fitzgerald, Chairman South Tipperary County Council launched the County’s Gum Litter Task Force in the Town Park, Carrick on Suir on Wednesday, May 30.
The theme of the 2012 campaign is ‘Bin it your way’ and the campaign includes a schools education programme aimed at first year secondary school students, litter monitoring by the Local Authorities, sponsorship of a Gum Litter Tidy Towns Award as well as widespread radio, newsprint and bill boarding advertising.
Working together with the Local Authorities in South Tipperary and local businesses in the towns and villages, the Gum Litter Task Force is targeting the root of the problem. The main aim is to change the way people think about gum litter.
Speaking at the launch in Carrick on Suir, the County Council Chairman said gum litter accounts for 21% of all litter countrywide and is second only to cigarette butts. In that respect chewing gum on our footpaths is not only an eyesore but is unhygienic and detracts hugely from people’s enjoyment of our towns and parks. He added that the County Council and the Town Councils have a responsibility to keep our environment clean. However, cleaning up the mess after it has been created does not address the root cause and we need to focus on litter prevention.
Continuing, Cllr. Fitzgerald said in 2006 representatives from the public, private and businesses sectors came together to address the issue of gum litter which led to the establishment of the Gum Litter Task Force. The Task Force is a Body set up specifically to prevent gum litter on our streets and the problems arising from it. It includes representatives from the chewing gum industry, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, the Food and D rink Industry and the Local Authorities.
The key to tackling gum litter as well as all forms of litter is education and this approach to education builds awareness and influences behaviour in order to deal with the problem at source and stop people from disposing of gum irresponsibility. The campaign has delivered very impressive results in the past in terms of reduction in gum litter levels and Cllr. Fitzgerald hopes to see similar results in South Tipperary this year. He said South Tipperary County Council and the local Town Council work closely with Residents Associations, schools and Tidy Towns Committees in order to help clean up our environment. He wished Carrick on Suir well in the 2012 Tidy Towns Competition in which judging is due to begin shortly.
Invited guests to the launch were the local Presentation Primary Green School committee and pupils, and Cllr. Fitzgerald complimented the School on achieving five Green Flags. He said they are experts on litter, waste, energy and water conservation and are setting an excellent example to the people of Carrick on Suir.
Marie Phelan, Public Awareness Officer in the Environment Section at South Tipperary County Council was in attendance and distributed information leaflets about the Gum Litter Task Force Campaign.
Carrick on Suir Town Mayor Cllr. Patsy was also in attendance as well as other members of the Council and Town Clerk Michael O’Brien.