Bonn Due to the corona crisis the city cleaning services have removed the ‘gum walls’. It is still unclear whether they bring results.
It could have been a perfect test: It was only in March that Wenzelgasse was cleared of chewing gum in a three-day trial. "Around 48,000 chewing gums were collected there," says Jérôme Lefèvre, spokesman for Bonnorange, the municipal cleaning service provider in Bonn. "Up to 50 chewing gums per square meter." To prevent further chewing gum waste, gum walls had already been installed at 20 locations on a trial basis last August. They consist of colourfully printed sheets inside an orange safety frame, on which people can playfully dispose of their chewing gums.
"The gum walls are not only intended to raise awareness, but also to be part of the solution," says Lefèvre, summarising the project. "Until Corona arrived, everything was going well. The walls were well used and were noticeable in the cityscape. In some places, there was so much gum stuck on them that even our employees were surprised at how much can fit on a sheet of paper". But when lockdown started, the project came to an abrupt end. At the end of March, the gum walls were first covered with bin liners and barrier tape, and at the beginning of July they were put into temporary storage. "We are still in the process of coordinating when and if we will put the walls back into operation," reports Lefèvre. It is hoped that this will already be the case in summer 2021.
The interruption of the test phase brings another problem: Up to now the gum walls have only been on loan from the manufacturer. The test was intended to determine whether a purchase using fee revenue would be worthwhile in the long term: "We can't buy anything if we do not know whether it will be of any use," says Lefèvre. The test data available so far has not enabled a final judgement to be made. It is unclear whether the manufacturer will extend the loan period. In the worst case, the adhesive walls would have to be returned later without any results.
Lefèvre is confident. As per an order from the city, 10,000 square meters of chewing gum are to be cleared from Bonn in the future. According to Bonnorange's quality control, the problem is particularly bad in so-called "food miles" where large numbers of restaurants are concentrated. It is not without reason that the Wenzelgasse in the city centre was first on the cleaning list. "It would be nice if solutions like the gum walls meant that this was no longer necessary in the future," said Lefèvre. Meanwhile, the first chewing gum stains are already visible again on the stone slabs in the Wenzelgasse.
(Original text: Carlotta Cornelius; Translation: Caroline Kusch)