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Turning Used Chewing Gum into Useable Products

Posted December 09, 2016 4:30 PM by lmno24

Remember that old adage in grade school about looking out for “ABC gum” under your desk? Once it’s served its breath-freshening or bubble-blowing purpose, gum seems pretty much useless, no?

Enter a new partnership between two UK-based companies. They’re repurposing chewed gum into raw material that can be used to make all kinds of things—like phone cases, rain boots, and more.

Custom compounder Teknor Apex has teamed with waste gum recycler Gumdrop Ltd., both of London, to convert that discarded gum into a raw material for commercial-grade thermoplastic elastomers, or TPEs. From there, that material can be made into all sorts of useable products.

But how do they get all that gum? It’s not as gross as you might imagine. In 2009, product designer Anna Bullus created Gumdrop Ltd., which claims to be the first company to repurpose used chewing gum. To collect, they install gum drop bins in various public places. They also make a portable keychain for individual use, which the user drops their used gum and once it’s full, they mail it back to the company.

Anna Bullus

Photo credit: Gumdrop Ltd.

Bullus says the company’s goal is to divert the used gum from being added to the sustainable amount of waste we already create and giving it a second life. Bullus started Gumdrop Ltd. after seeing a need for a specific place to recycle it. Numerous experiments later, she developed a material that could be used to manufacture a bin, which she dubbed as Gumdrop. The original purpose was to recycle gum into more bins to collect more gum, thus cutting into waste significantly. This material is now known as Gum-Tec and can be used in existing plastics manufacturing processes such as injection and blow molding.

Teknor Apex was in charge of the science behind actually turning the gum into a material that’s useable on an even larger scale.

The challenge was to devise formulation and manufacturing techniques for a new type of raw material to produce commercial-scale quantities of compounds that consistently meet the requirements of specific applications. Those included optimized elasticity, compression set, tensile, and other mechanical properties, as well as processability, the company said.

Now, they’ve created TPE Gum-Tec and launched Gumboots, a collection of welly-style rainboots for all ages (and they say stepping in gum is bad luck!).

Photo credit: Gumdrop Ltd.

Sources: http://insights.globalspec.com/article/3589/recycled-chewing-gum-sticks-as-a-raw-material

http://gumdropltd.com/gumtec-products/

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#1

Re: Turning Used Chewing Gum into Useable Products

12/10/2016 11:08 PM

I'm not sure which sentence applies.

Things the English think of.

Only the English would think of this.

Innovative English engineers think of way to solve sticky problem.

I found two images. I am sure of the first, not so sure about the second.

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#2

Re: Turning Used Chewing Gum into Useable Products

12/11/2016 10:50 PM

It is hard to believe that recycling chewing gum is more environmentally friendly than simply manufacturing virgin materials for these gummy products. I can see all kinds of additional packaging, handling, energy consumption for the express purpose of collecting disgusting chewing gum. Mailing back used chewing gum? Makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

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#3
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Re: Turning Used Chewing Gum into Useable Products

12/12/2016 10:46 AM

some of the bubble gum now-a-days is like chewing on a old rubber boot.

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#4

Re: Turning Used Chewing Gum into Useable Products

12/12/2016 7:02 PM

How about my Spearmint that lost its flavor when I left it on the bedpost overnight?

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#5

Re: Turning Used Chewing Gum into Useable Products

12/12/2016 7:16 PM

If you've ever had to get it off your shoe, you'd realize that it's tough enough to be good for something!

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