Worldwide, humans chew some 560,000 tons of gum per year, according to a report in Critical Reviews in Oral Biology & Medicine. Though there are no official reports on its environmental impact, there's no question it adds to waste.
The time, money and chemicals invested in removing all those black blobs you see on the sidewalk are also costly. According to a 2010 Mayor of London press release, it costs up to £10 million per year to clear London’s streets of chewing gum.
Different groups are looking into ways to cut back on the waste. According to Slate, a group of Dartmouth students studied gum wrappers and found that Bubble Tape-like products produced the lowest amount of greenhouse-gas emissions.
Looking beyond the wrapper, there's a sustainable gum out dubbed Rev 7. The gum was invented by Professor Terence Cosgrove, a British scientist at the University of Bristol, who founded Revolymer with fellow researchers in October 2005.
Unlike regular gum, which is water-resistant, this gum is said to dissolve with water, making it 30% easier to remove from clothes and sidewalks. The gum also can disintegrate into a fine powder using water and mild agitation over six months -– compared to traditional gum which can last for over 50 years.
The way it works? According to the company, the polymer technology encourages water to form a layer around the gum allowing it to be more easily removed from most surfaces. It also allows water to penetrate and begin the disintegration process, making it more biodegradable than commercial gum.
Not only could it be better for the environment, but it could also come out of your hair.
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