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Green Economy

New Plan for Recycling Gum into Toys and Tires

Gumdrop and Gummy Bins are two companies aiming to recycle chewing gum into plastic productsA new chewing gum recycling campaign has started up across the pond, and if it takes off perhaps it will mean the end of those unsightly gum spots on paved surfaces.  That’s no trivial matter, because cleaning gum off concrete takes money and energy (pdf). It’s usually done with high pressure steam, which can end up eroding the surface and shortening its lifecycle, taking up more money and energy in repairs and replacement.

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The campaign is called Gumdrop, and Lucy Siegle of The Guardian reports that its creator, Lucy Bullus, came up with a method for converting used gum into a polymer while studying design at Brighton University.  The polymer, aptly titled BRGP for Bullus Recycled Gum Polymer, can be used to make a variety of plastic products including the distinctive pink bubble-shaped Gumdrop gum recycling bins.

Many Opportunities to Recycle Gumdrops

In terms of chewing gum litter, the first thing that pops into mind is splattered city sidewalks and subway platforms, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Theme parks, sports stadiums and other recreation areas suffer a similar scourge, so it’s little wonder that Gumdrop’s first trial in the U.S. took place earlier this spring at an amusement park. Ms. Bullus foresees toys, tires, and even fashion items such as the ubiquitous Wellies (rubber boots) made from recycled chewing gum, to say nothing of chair pads (yes, chair pads!).

Gumdrop and Gummy Bins

Another entry into the chewing gum recycling field is Gummy Bins, which is based on a similar concept. The company is positioning its product for use in athletic surfaces such as running tracks.  Gummy Bins estimates that the U.K. alone goes through more than 935 million packs of gum every year, so it looks like there’s a rich pile of feedstock out there ready to be mined.

Image: Chewing gum by Quinn.anya on flickr.com.

 
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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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