… has become a sticky issue for many big cities, Time magazine reports in its latest issue. And no, that’s not a typo — we’re talking gum pollution, as in those blobs of gooey stickiness attached to city sidewalks and the shoes of unfortunate city dwellers — and it’s a bigger issue than you might think. Reps from several British cities met in London last month for a summit on the stuff, and they say cleanup costs are costing the U.K. some $290 million a year. If they have their way, a new bill may fine bubble-gum litterBrits $145.

Toronto officials counted gobs of the stuff for a 2004 litter audit and found that for every piece of other litter, there were 10 pieces of gum littering one stretch of sidewalk. Contrary to popular belief, the gooey bits won’t biodegrade, but U.S. researchers say they may be able to change that with a new biodegradable variety of chewy goodness made with a corn derivative. The stuff is expensive to produce, but won’t stick to surfaces. Chew on that!