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Zero Waste Hero – biodegradable chewing gum

Zero waste hero-biodegradable chewing gum

Modern chewing gum is composed of a fully synthetic gasoline-based polymer and a large number of synthetic sweeteners and stabilizers.

The chewing gum we know today is roughly the same as the ancient Greeks, chewing Mastiha gum or the Mayans using their chocolate. It refreshes the breath, tastes good, and can provide a meditation distraction. But in terms of what you actually put in your mouth, all the similarities with traditional gums end here.

Modern chewing gum is composed of a fully synthetic gasoline-based polymer and a large number of synthetic sweeteners and stabilizers. In addition to the obvious sustainability issues of extracting consumer products from non-renewable resources and under-researched health issues, chewing gum is still a huge processing problem.

Modern synthetic chewing gum is hydrophobic (insoluble in water) and contains polymers that easily bind to asphalt, which makes removing black blocks from sidewalks an expensive and time-consuming task for local authorities. Current methods include blasting, freezing or steaming dry chewing gum with corrosive chemicals.

It is estimated that the local clean-up service cost per piece of gum is between 0.65 and 2.30 euros for taxpayers. In London alone, the total cost of cleaning gum on the streets is estimated at 10 million pounds. Even when disposed of in the trash can, the chewing gum ends up in a landfill, where it will never biodegrade.

A piece of chewing gum may not seem like a lot of rubbish, but think about it all over the world, we chew 100,000 tons of chewing gum every year, and the number is starting to increase.

Chicle gum is a natural product of the Chicle tree that grows in the tropical rain forests of Central and North America. In 1866, Thomas Adams failed to vulcanize 2 tons of latex into rubber for wheels. He decided to add sweeteners and flavoring agents to it and sold it to the Americans, so it became the first mass-produced The key ingredient of chewing gum. Bought by a certain William Wrigley, chewing gum quickly became a phenomenon. During World War II, American chemists developed synthetic rubber, which has now largely replaced natural-source gum bases.

However, while companies that dominate the chewing gum industry continue to research new biodegradable elastomers, the Mexican cooperative Consorcio Chiclero is reviving a traditional technology that uses Chicozapote trees in the tropical rainforests of southeastern Mexico to harvest rock sugar gums. This is one of the only tropical rain forests under sustainable management in Mexico, and most of the rest have been cleared for grazing and extensive agriculture.

The harvested gum is boiled and mixed with natural wax to form a chewy gum base, and then natural sweeteners (including agave syrup) and flavors are added. In addition to taste delicious, support traditional livelihoods and help protect precious tropical rainforests, cheeksa gum is also completely soluble in water, fully in contact with bacteria and enzymes, and can be biodegraded in just 2 weeks. Nutrients that break down gums can even strengthen the soil.

If we want to close the material cycle and avoid sending precious resources to landfills, finding biodegradable alternatives that can be properly reintegrated into the ecosystem is part of the solution.

When faced with choosing a chewing gum that uses precious limited resources and will always pollute the environment, or a chewing gum that comes from renewable natural resources and returns to the earth, which one would you choose?

In London alone, the total cost of cleaning gum on the streets is estimated at 10 million pounds.

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