By Gum, he intends to stick it out on the streets

Terry Brown, Herald Sun, March 18th 2010 (VIC, Australia).

Paul McGillivray is packing heat – and he’s on a mission to clean up Melbourne’s mean streets.

And so what if his customised Chinese police buggy has a top speed of only 40kn/h? It can still get up a head of steam. For the 61-year-old, no situation is too sticky, no grime too grotty, and when he says he can clean up the city it’s a promise, not a threat.

All week Mr McGillivray has been showing the $55,000 Gum Removal Vehicle GRooVy for short – to councils and cleaning firms. Using steam superheated to 175C, it turns chewing gum spots into liquid globs, then sucks them up at the rate of 500 per hour.

“to be honest, people are pigs,” he said. “They make a mess outside buildings. If they’re not smoking, they’re chewing gum.” As the one-time boss of CBD street cleaners Citywide, he should know. 

Now the product support manager for GRooVy’s distributor Tennant, Mr McGillivray is hoping to sell the buggies to the City of Melbourne and big cleaning firms like Spotless.

Australians chomp through about 15 packets of chewy a head each year, and spit about a quarter of that on the ground. In greater Melbourne that means 14 million chewies to be stood on or sat on each year.

Mr McGillivray has his work cut out, but says that it does more than clean up a mess. It teaches residents a lesson. “It’s all about education and eradication,” he says.

The buggy has LCD panels with anti-litter messages and uses three litres of water an hour compared to the 3000 more common water blasting techniques employ.

It has solar panels, an electric motor and a range of about 80km between charges. It leaves footpaths dry and can also suck up cigarette butts, clean bins, sanitise toilet blocks, remove posters and some graffiti, clean barbeques and kill weeds.