If you’ve seen little pink balls popping up around the town over recent days then you will have noticed the latest local initiative for enhancing our streets, recycling and battling against single-use plastic.
Wilmslow Town Council has linked up with ‘Gumdrop’, a business dedicated to recycling chewing gum to prevent it ending up on the pavements and to make use of the synthetic elements that it contains.
Following on from Wilmslow being awarded ‘Plastic Free’ status, the Town Council has followed the example of forward-thinking universities and other towns in trying to change consumer habits.
Chewing Gum today contains a butadiene-based synthetic rubber element preventing it from biodegrading quickly which means that it can stay on our streets for up to 5 years if not disposed of appropriately, but this also means that it can be a very useful product and shouldn’t simply be sent to landfill in a normal bin.
When chewing gum does end up on the pavement it has many potential consequences. If the discarded chewing gum doesn’t end up on someone’s shoe it will either blight the environment or result in a very costly cleaning exercise for the local council. It is estimated that a piece of chewing gum costs around 3 pence to buy but 10 pence to clean up. The Gumdrop initiative is a self-contained full-circle recycling scheme whereby the entire sealed gumdrop unit is recycled to produce new gumdrop units along with a range of other items such as pencils, cups and rulers.
Wilmslow Town Council is working with Wilmslow High School and Town Centre businesses to highlight to chewing gum users the benefits of disposing their gum in a responsible way and it is hoped that these pink additions to Town Centre streets will encourage participation.
Once the scheme is established the Town Council will assess its success before considering committing to cleaning existing gum off the pavements. Additionally, if the gum recycling scheme is a success then the street gum litter may be reduced thereafter making the cleaning of the pavements more effective in the long-term.