You want me to recycle my chewing gum?

Filed in Blog by on September 11, 2008 13 Comments
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gummy bin to recycle chewing gumI had to travel all the way to Vancouver to see Jen at the Clean Bin to get this little nugget of gold about something that is happening in the UK!

Do you know what this is photo of? I didn’t!

Are you a gum chewer? Then providing you can buy it in zero waste packaging, here’s an excuse to get chewing even more!

Now who would have thought chewing gum would appear on a site to do with waste minimisation? And I’m not talking about the packaging in this case, I’m talking about the gum itself.

The amount of gum spat onto our UK pavements every year is equivalent to the volume of 3 Big Ben clock towers made completely of waste chewing gum.

935 million packs of gum are chewed by 28 million people in the UK every year. In other words, almost half the UK population chews one piece of gum per day for 47 weeks of the year. 80-90% of chewing gum is not disposed of in any litter receptacle.

It just ends up on our streets and pavements.

However, Gummy Bin has come to the rescue with its quirky looking bins for people to dispose their gum into. This will save over #138 million, which is the current amount of money spent by our Government trying to clear up discarded gum.

That’s an astonishing amount of money, isn’t it? Just because some people would rather spit it on the floor than dispose of it correctly.

Gummy Bins are quirky, attractive bins that are an instantly recognisable receptacle for used chewing gum. In trial test, they have shown to be really effective. Solihull Council was the most effective in the trial. It reduced chewing gum litter by 72% over a six month period in 2006, compared to an average reduction of 37%

Now here’s the exciting part. The gum they collect can be recycled. Not into more gum; ewwww, imagine that! but into drainage and construction material. Once gum collections have achieved critical mass, then a recycling programme can be launched.

So get chewing dear readers and remember to dispose of your gum properly!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (13)

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  1. I love innovative projects like this, especially because in old BSE we also have a problem with the gum. What I really don’t understand is how people can even be so careless to throw it on the floor in the first place. The second thing I don’t understand is who the hell does it? Because having got to the ripe old age of 40, I have never once witnessed anyone throwing gum on the floor. Yet it’s all over the pavement for all to see. It’s probably the same phantom elf who comes and nicks half of my socks.

  2. Kris says:

    Gloscat has a gum bin on the wall that reminds me of the old pink hubba bubba gums I used to buy and because it’s distinctive I do think it stands out. I like the idea of the gum bins then giving up their contents to be construction materials.

  3. Poppy says:

    Yes Kris they have the Hubba Bubba style bin, but have you also seen them using the high pressure steam hoses to get all the disgarded stuff off the footpath?!

    Sadly some people will only use a bin if it is right under their noses………

  4. Mrs Green says:

    πŸ˜€ Mrs A, I’ve never actually seen anyone do it either, so maybe the mischievous sock fairy is to blame.

    Poppy, you highlight the very issue Gummybin want to get to the bottom of, which is about changing people’s behaviour. Even when I did chew gum, I *never* thought to dump it, I used to wrap it in a bit of tissue and put it into a regular dustbin. It seems really weird to just throw it on the floor…..

  5. Kris says:

    I haven’t seen them hosing but I’m not entirely surprised they have to do that as well.

    I wouldn’t dream of just pitching gum or other litter, or sticking it on the underside of a bench or bus seat, but people clearly do, it’s bizarre and pretty depressing.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    This is interesting information from the site that needs to be bought to people’s awareness, perhaps:

    It’s about a couple of the methods used for cleaning gum from our streets – chemicals and water:

    # Chemicals. To soften the gum so it can be pressure washed away. Unfortunately, the chemicals are expensive, toxic and cannot be washed into the sewerage system. They also stain the surface and can smell very nasty.

    # Pressure washing. The most common method which has three varieties: cold water, hot water and steam machines. Of all the cleaning methods, pressure washing is probably the most effective – but it’s still not that good and it’s really expensive. A two-man team and a machine cost approximately Β£50,000 per annum to run. The machines operate at about 3,000 psi and use 250 gallons of water per hour (!!). They’re a danger to pedestrians, they damage the grout between paving stones and cause them to lift because the water gets underneath, and they leave an oily mark where the gum has been.

  7. Hi Mrs Green,

    Bill Bryson would probably be interested in this anti-litter device as he mentioned gum street cleaning in his campaign.

    It is another symptom of the ThrowAway society which will one day come to an end.

  8. jen cleanbin says:

    Thanks for the reference. I can see that your research is much more thorough than mine! I can’t believe they spend so much money cleaning up gum!

  9. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Jen, amazing isn’t it?
    I’m hoping by linking to your blog, we can share some readers and some link love πŸ™‚ Thanks for the inspiration for the research and now Mrs A is going to use it in her upcoming book, so kudos to you!

  10. sunshine_mel says:

    what a brilliant idea πŸ˜€

    i live in eastbourne, and last year they were hosing down my street to get the chewing gum off at 11pm! (on a school night!)

    i’m going to let them know πŸ˜€ hopefully then i can get more sleep – and a cleaner pavement!

  11. Mrs Green says:

    It will be interesting to see if your council take on the idea, sunshine_mel – do let us know how you get on!

  12. Jane says:

    I’ve read that chewing gum is PLASTIC. It doesn’t appeal to me as much now.

  13. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: πŸ˜€ I know, not exactly tasty is it? I’ve found an organic one made from the gum of a tree for Little Miss Green and feel much better about her eating it; it’s biodegradable too πŸ˜‰ You can see it here (don’t’ freak out at the air miles!!)

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