Recycled Chewing Gum Turned Into Chewing Gum Bins

By Joseph Calamia | August 24, 2010 3:40 pm

GUMDROP_3

Tired of gum-plastered streets, Anna Bullus decided to design and install chewing gum receptacles made, naturally, from recycled chewing gum. Her pink “Gumdrops” now appear in five UK locations and Six Flags Theme Park in New Jersey.

Though she won’t reveal the gum rubber’s exact contents, Bullus told The Guardian that eight months in a lab allowed her to perfect her technique, making gum first into a foam and then a used-gum pellet, before extracting a polymer modestly called BRGP (Bullus Recycled Gum Polymer). Perhaps it’s not surprising that you could turn gum into plastic, since the “nonnutritive masticatory substance” that gives gum its chewiness can include butyl rubber, used in inner tubes.

If her Gumdrops can keep gum off the streets, such bins might save British taxpayers an estimated £150 ($300) million per year–that’s what the government spends now on steam hoses, freezing machines, and corrosive chemical street cleanings. Plus Bullus says the Gumdrops, once full, can provide fodder for more Gumdrops and other plastic products. She told The Guardian:

“The amazing thing is you can use it for any plastic product…. I’d love to do some Wellington boots, for example. Gum boots, in fact.”

Related content:
Discoblog: Britain’s War On Chewing Gum Terror
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: A moment on your lips, forever in your intestine.
Discoblog: Can the Texas BoE walk and deny evolution at the same time? (when chewing gum meets evolution)
DISCOVER: Oh, Rubbish (archaeologists dig up some old trash, including gum)

Image: GUMDROP

  • Anthony

    This is a really neat idea! I’d love to see some more of these across the U.S.! Though I’m not sure how many other people would use them…

  • Elissa

    $300 million / yr in gum removal?!

  • http://sciencemuseumofvirginia.blogspot.com/ Liz

    How clever! I hope it catches on and people actually use it – gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe is disgusting.

  • http://unfashionablyeconomic.blogspot.com/ Unfashenomic

    I’d be curious how difficult/expensive it is to recycle chewing gum into something plastic-like. It’s a nice symbol to reuse old gum, but plastic is cheap — why not use that, and just have 5x more gum receptacles?

  • Anson Chappell

    Link to an interview with Gumdrop founder. Source: CBC Radio’s Spark.

    http://www.cbc.ca/spark/2010/06/spark-117-june-20-22-2010/

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Discoblog

Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »