Chewing Gum Litter Problem Costs Brits Millions

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Tossed chewing gum litters sidewalks, induces not-so-pleasant words when stuck to the shoes and costs cities millions to remove.

If everyone in the UK stopped discarding their used chewing gum on UK streets today, it would still take over four months to clean the existing gum off streets. Photo: Gumdropbin.com

After reading just how much money towns in England spend annually to remove chewing gum from public areas, British design student, Anna Bullus, began dreaming up solutions.

She realized there must be a better way to deal with this litter and, in 2006, entered the chemistry laboratory with the goal of creating a new plastic polymer using recycled chewing gum capable of being used in commercial molding processes. In 2008, Anna created GUMDROP Ltd.

Born from her design was the GUMDROP Bin, a receptacle not only for the collection of used chewing gum, but also manufactured from used chewing gum. The bins are designed for placement around a city, much the same as trash bins.

When full, they are collected and the entire bin, contents and shell, are recycled into new products, including new bins.

Though not the first item that comes to mind when the world “litter” is muttered, chewing gum is definitely an issue spawning the creation of such initiatives as the Chewing Gum Action Group in the UK.

On average, 30,000 pieces of gum are irresponsibly discarded each day on Oxford Street in London alone, contributing to 3.5 billion tossed pieces of gum each year in the UK.

Bullus' Gumdrop Bins are found around the UK, as well as the Six Flags Theme Park in Jackson, New Jersey. Photo: Gumdropbin.com

The British Government spends 150 million British Pounds (approx. $230 million USD) annually to remove an average of 7,000 tons of chewing gum from UK streets.

If a mere 10 percent of that used gum was placed into GUMDROP bins, 1 million GUMDROP bins could be produced from the material.

The 2010 Chewing Gum Campaign is currently underway in a handful of UK towns, where individuals caught littering their used gum risk an 80 British Pound fine (approx. $125 USD).

The towns work with Keep Britain Tidy and GUMDROP to place the GUMDROP bins and educate the public as to the environmental and economical impacts of littering chewing gum, a move London Mayor Boris Johnson is particularly keen on in preparation of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games hosted by his city.

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