Recycle Your Chewing Gum

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Recycle chewing gum
Courtesy of GUMDROP Ltd

You can recycle gum. You didn’t know it, but you can.

Chew on This

Anna Bullus founded GUMDROP Ltd in 2008, which has designed the world’s first trash receptacle made specifically for gum, out of gum. Her aim: to educate and inspire the public to give gum a second life. Bullus developed the first chemical process that allows used gum to be recycled into a new molded material. When a Gumdropbin is full, the gum collected in it is recycled into more bins. Ingenious!

Trials of the Gumdropbin ran in U.K. schools, theme parks and local authorities in 2010 with promising results. In 2011, interest has only increased, and a full-blown educational campaign is in the works with 250 schools, colleges, universities and councils.

It’s a fact: Chewing gum is the largest littering item in the world next to cigarette butts. Interestingly, when smoking bans are enacted, gum use increases. It’s a sticky situation. Will we start to get nostalgic for the old, black spots on sidewalks from the bygone days when people carelessly spit their gum out?

recycling chewing gum
Courtesy of GUMDROP Ltd

Anna cites that the British Government spends £150 million each year on cleaning gum off streets. In essence, it costs three times the amount of one piece of gum in order to clean it off the sidewalk. What’s more, chemicals used to rid a surface of chewing gum usually end up running down storm drains and into the ocean. In the U.S., chewing gum is a $2 billion per year industry.

Will People Use It?

One of the reasons cited for people not using a bin is that there are not enough. Now there are bins that are bubbly, bright pink and eye-catching. Hopefully the novelty of these bins will continue to catch on and there will be a reduction in chewing gum litter.

Recycling Gum Wrappers

We’ve seen gum wrapper chains, and bags and bracelets made out of gum wrappers, but an innovative young woman named Elizabeth Rasmuson from Iowa made her prom dress and her date’s vest entirely from gum wrappers.

Don’t forget to check out other ways that candy wrappers can be recycled in surprising ways.

Random Gum Recycling

Gum alley, San Luis Obispo, California
Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, California, for your viewing (chewing?) pleasure.

Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, California, is a unique spectacle worth a visit. It’s hard to describe the “aroma” of a 15-foot high, 70-foot long accumulation of old chewing gum. The alley covers a stretch of 20 meters in downtown San Luis Obispo, and opinions of the alley range from considering it disgusting to a notable form of art. If you ever pass by, consider adding your gum, as everyone’s creative contribution is encouraged.

Artist Jason Kronenwald uses chewing gum as his medium with his collection of Gum Blondes. Portraits of women are made with chewed up gum on a plywood backing. No paint or dyes are added to the gum, and he has a whole team dedicated to chewing!

And last but not least, see how this woman in Germany reuses chewed pieces of gum to make crochet-like patterns and other gooey treasures.

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One Response to Recycle Your Chewing Gum

  1. I had the pleasure of seeing and using, for the FIRST TIME, one of your ‘gumdrop’ collecting boxes in the departure lounge of Southampton Airport yesterday.
    I would like to congratulate your company on introducing this quite wonderful innovation. It is most timely especially as the sales of Chewing Gum seem to be having a marked boost relevant to the demise of cigarettes. I would like to see these boxes in EVERY public place, and wish your company every possible future success.

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