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Gumdrop bins

It costs three pence, but £1.50 to get rid of. It’s those white splodges that are randomly over the streets, parks, schools, cinemas, trains, planes and theme parks. It’s chewing gum which when chewed and thrown away irresponsibly is unsightly on roads and pavements.

UK chewers get through up to four million pieces of gum a year, and local government reckons the annual clean-up bill is around £60 million. In the pedestrianised area of Middlesbrough town centre, the council does removal by hiring specialist equipment. In time for the spring 2021 lifting of covid lockdown, the council is asking people to dispose of their gum in a public-spirited way – and turn the remains into something useful. Twenty bright pink Gumdrop bins at key locations are part of a trial to help clear up the streets. Gumdrop as a company seeks to recycle and process chewing gum into a range of new compounds that can be used in the rubber and plastics industry.

Using the company’s Gum-tec process, unwanted gum is transformed into new bins and other reusable products such as coffee mugs, rulers, mobile phone cases, coat hangers, buckets, picnic cutlery and drinking straws. Gumdrop keyrings are also available free from Middlesbrough community hubs and libraries – once full they can be placed into the Gumdrop bins for onward recycling.

Councillor Dennis McCabe, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Environment, said: “Don’t chuck it, bin it – it really is that simple. Discarded gum is an anti-social eyesore that costs a small fortune to clean, and chucking it in the street is just as unacceptable as spitting or dropping a cigarette butt.

“These Gumdrop bins could change all that – not only are you avoiding the risk of an £80 fixed penalty notice, but your discarded gum will go on to do something useful rather than getting stuck to roads, pavements and shoes.”


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