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article imageSticky situation in Rome

By Tim Sandle     Dec 13, 2011 in Environment
Rome - The authorities in Rome, concerened with the thousands of pieces of chewing gum discarded onto the streets and stuck onto buildings, have launched a volunteer-based drive to clean up the city and remove the unsightly, sticky blobs.
Chewing gum might be refreshing to chew on and fun to eat, however it costs a considerable sum to remove each year. Furthermore, to have a piece of someone else’s masticated rubber on one’s feet is not fun.
Although chewing gum originally came from the chicle tree sap, most modern chewing gum is made from synthetic rubber (to which softeners, sweeteners and flavourings are added). The problem with the rubber is that it does not degrade over time. The concern with chewing gum on pavements once led the UK government to issue a report which even considered restricting sales.
As with other parts of the world, the historical monuments in Rome have suffered from the same level of chewed gum being affixed to buildings and onto pavements. However, the authorities in Rome have embarked on a new initiative to tackle the problem of discarded gum.
As reported in the Montreal Gazette, the City Council has enlisted a team of volunteers to help remove gum from buildings and the pretty cobblestone streets. In a sense, Rome has ‘declared war on gum’.
The clean-up Rome campaign began on Tuesday at the historic piazza Largo Argentina. The volunteers were largely drawn from an organisation called Noi Per Roma (which translates as “Us For Rome”) and, according to The Vancouver Sun, are led by the wife of the city’s mayor Isabella Rauti (daughter of the right-wing Italian politician Giuseppe Umberto "Pino" Rauti).
The incentive for the Roman authorities is a combination of making the area look better for tourists (tourism is Rome’s primary source of income) and to save costs. The news agency AFP quoted the head of Ama, Rome’s refuse collection service, as stating: “Every day, 15,000 sticks of chewed-up gum are discarded in the street, even in the archaeological sites. Each gum removal costs the city one Euro" (equivalent to approximately $1.30).
If the Rome project is a success it is possible that other major world cities will follow suit. It is unlikely that the global population’s love of chewing gum will diminish with around 374 billion pieces sold each year.
More about Rome, Environment, community action, Volunteers, Chewing gum
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