Chewing gum, which does not degrade, thrown down on the ground is a litter problem on both sides of the Atlantic. In the U.K. three and a half billion pieces of gum end up on the streets every year. The British government spends £150million a year to clean gum off streets. The sales of gum in the U.S. are $2 billion a year, and the cost to remove gum is between $2 to $3 per gum piece. However, the difference in the U.K. is that several companies created a way to reduce gum litter by 75 percent while using the recycled gum to create new products.
Enter the founder of the company Gumdrop Ltd. While studying design at Brighton University, Anna Bullus noticed all the used gum on the ground in Brighton’s city center. Bullus told the Guardian she “realized that chewing gum is already a rubber, and rubber can be recycled and made into stuff, so why not gum.”
Bullus then spent eight months in a lab finding a way to recycle gum by extracting a polymer from the used gum she named BGRP (Bullus Recycled Gum Polymer). She made pink bins from the recycled gum which people can put their used gum in. The bright pink bins are called Gumdrop bins.
According to the company’s brochure, if 10 percent of U.K.’s discarded gum pieces are put into Gumdrop bins one million more bins could be made to collect the other 90 percent.
Clean Technica reports that Gumdrop had a trial in the U.S. in the spring at an amusement park.
The British company, Gummy Bin Ltd. created gum recycling bins called Gummy Bins which have a reusable cartridge that can hold either 250 or 500 pieces of gum. The company creates products, including toys, from the recycled gum. In 2007, the company chose California-based Recycle Media Corp. to be its first international distributor in a five year deal worth an estimated $26.6 million.
“Our chewing gum disposal and recycling system has had impressive results in the UK in 2006, showing an average reduction of 75% or more in chewing gum deposits in the vicinity of the gummy bins,” said Nigel Bill, Head of Sales at Gummy Bins.