Gumdrop to Manufacture Sneakers from Recycled Chewing Gum

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Gumdrop collects used chewing gum that would otherwise end up smeared on the sidewalk and turns into plastic

City marketing organization Iamsterdam, designer Explicit Wear, and sustainability company Gumdrop have collaborated to design a shoe from the recycled gum called Gumshoe. The sole of the shoe will be made from recyclable compounds (known as Gum-Tec). The compounds in the sole will be made up of 20% gum. “We discovered gum is made from a synthetic rubber. And by breaking down these properties, we were able to create a new type of rubber,” said Anna Bullus, managing director and designer at Gumdrop.

Pink bubble-shaped bin collects the gum on central city streets, train stations, and other places with heavy foot traffic. When the bin is full, the whole container is sent to recycled facility and it is recycled together into pellets that can be used in the same type of manufacturing equipment that usually works with regular plastic. Around US$ 82 million are invested annually by local governments in the U.K. to scrape hardened blobs of gum off sidewalks or blasting it off with steam cleaners in some cases, cleaning up a single piece of gum could end up costing as much as US$ 2 in labor.

Gumdrop uses the recycled material to manufacture products such as comb, frisbee, and a reusable coffee mug. The company recently made Wellington boots for children out of the recycled material, which can be sent out to company after they wear out. However, steady source of the raw material is required to manufacture one of the collection bins. For instance, it takes about 70 pieces of gum in the larger mix of recycled material. The company is working with gum manufacturers to recycle their pre-consumer waste in large quantities.

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