Of all the things in the world in need of recycling programs, this is one you may not have thought of: chewing gum. The reality is that chewing gum is a significant nuisance, whether it winds up in the trash or not. When disposed of, its rubbering consistency doesn’t break down, therefore trashed gum winds up in landfills.
But anyone who has disgustedly dislodged a sticky blob from the bottom of their shoe knows that the trash can isn’t even the worst place for gum, and it’s the manpower and maintenance costs relating to cleaning up this ubiquitous pink blob that keeps building and grounds crews up at night.
Designer Anna Bullus determined that there had to be a better approach to the gum problem, which is where the idea for Gumdrop came about. The Gumdrop business model is simple: businesses order chewed chewing gum receptacles that they can post in various areas. When a user wants to discard a flavorless wad, they drop it in and eventually the containers are shipped to recycling centers.
The irony? The gum receptacles themselves are made out of recycled gum, and the gum that goes in them is then made into more gum drop stations – or reusable coffee cups, combs, frisbees, what have you. Fast Company recently reported that Gumdrop’s next venture is in the soles of shoes. It seems shoe-bottoms are often made from a similar raw material anyway, and people seem to feel a little bit less of an “ick” factor when they consider used gum being on the bottom of their feet.
Businesses might find applications for Gumdrop as accessories to their current smoking stations – butt receptacles and gum receptacles, side by side.
While Gumdrop has kicked off in the UK and expanded to Denmark, Bullus says its aspirations are global and that they hope to hear from companies worldwide. Fast Company estimates the cost of manpower for removing one wad of chewing gum from a surface is about $2. Considering the average person chews 280 sticks per year, the “ABC gum” impact is probably in need of a major cleanup – here, there, and everywhere.