The sheer amount of chewing gum that ends up on the sidewalks and pavements is mind-boggling; and let’s be honest, frustrating, when it ends up stuck to the bottom of your shoe.
It's also an environmental menace. All of that countless gum you see stuck on the pavement takes weeks, months, even years to remove.
The days of spending hours scrubbing off someone else's chewed gum could soon be over. A water soluble, non-sticky version has been launched in the United States. A research team at the University of Bristol in England led by Professor Terrence Cosgrove developed the gum...
Q: It was gum on your shoe, too, that got you thinking about this?
A: Gum everywhere, really. I think everyone's had that experience in a cinema or on a train, where your fingers have sort of roved and under the seat, you come across some of this ghastly, sticky mess. You know, so I think everyone has their own personal experience, whether it's hair or stuck to your false teeth.
Q: What prompted you to go the next stage?
A: I've always been interested in how polymers, which are one of the materials that make up chewing gum, stick to things. And I just thought of it sort of the other way around, you know, could I make something that, although it might stick, was easy to remove?
Q: You still have a chewing experience, because, obviously, there would be no point in having chewing gum that didn't chew and taste like it. But what happens when it gets on clothes?
A: It retains a bit more water, which means if a piece of chewing gum is very wet, which our ones are when they're discarded, they really don't stick to anything. When they dry out, they do stick. But what you can do is get it wet again or just use the household detergent and it can come off really quite easily.
Q: What sort of interest have you received from the gum industry?
A: The whole of the industry wants to solve the problem of chewing gum pollution. And the goal of a removable gum is something that all major players want.
Q: Right, but quite often, it's a bit like a light bulb that lasts forever. Quite often, you know, the industry just doesn't want that to happen.
A: They want it to happen, probably under their own terms, you know. The problem with chewing gum pollution is it's the consumer that's causing the problem. But this gum is just an added benefit, being removable and degradable.
Quest:I'm looking forward to trying it!