- U.K.-based Gumdrop Ltd. has teamed up with Teknor Apex Co. to turn used chewing gum into a raw material for thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), as reported by Recycling Today.
- Gumdrop had already been recycling the material for other uses, but Teknor found a way to make TPE compounds using up to 30% chewing gum waste. The recyclable material can be made in a variety of finishes and colors.
- So far this material has been used to make Wellington "Gumboots." It could also be used in caster wheels, auto bumpers and floor mats, window gaskets, watch straps, toothbrush grips and pencils.
More than 500,000 tons of gum are sold per year which ends up in all kinds of unwanted places. Gumdrop started in 2009 and is most well-known for its spherical pink collection bins that have been deployed around the London area. The units were found to be very successful in capturing people's used gum and have helped reduce cleaning costs by keeping it off sidewalks and floors as well.
This has been held up as a model of anti-litter projects by U.K. environmental charity Hubbub and is similar to other efforts aimed at capturing small but harmful pieces of litter. Cities have tried almost everything to curb this bad behavior — including public shaming — and these types of specific collection programs are an interesting new idea.
Cigarette collection bins are also becoming a popular feature in cities and TerraCycle works with many of these programs to turn the butts into compost and shipping pallets. Multiple ideas have even come up for dog waste, showing that truly anything is recyclable if the economics line up to collect and process it.