It contains a hydrophilic polymer
People spend annually $10 billion for chewing gum, but this leaves a sticky mess all around us, which is everywhere: from streets to cinema seats. And removing discarded gum is also an industry of millions of dollars. Now, a British company has announced the development of an easy-to-remove chewing gum.
The team at the Revolymer has discarded some of the stickier chemicals from gum and developed a low cost polymer that could make about 10 % of the gum easier to remove.
One reason why gum sticks is because it is “hydrophobic” (water-hating) and the added polymer turns it into a “hydrophilic” (water loving).
“You always get a film of water around our gum and that is one of the reasons it is easy to remove and in some cases does not stick at all. When put in a test tube of water, the new gum – nicknamed Rev7 – dissolves, while the conventional gum still persists as a “cud.” Stuck on a table, the new gum can be easily removed by water,” said Prof Terence Cosgrove of the University of Bristol, Chief Scientific Officer of Revolymer.
20 experts have tasted the gum for mouth feel, taste, texture and so on.
“Ours is among the top in blind tests,” said Cosgrove.
Flavor release, accompanied by an initial burst, was similar, and no side effects, like mouth irritation, were recorded. The new gum can be easily removed from shoes, clothes, pavements and hair, and it is also biodegradable.
In two tests made on four types of paving stones, the main commercial gums stuck to the pavements in 75 % of the cases, while Revolymer gum was gone within 24 hours naturally.
“We have done this quite a number of times and in every instance our gum disappears. The advantage of our Clean Gum is that it has a great taste, it is easy to remove and has the potential to be environmentally degradable.” said Cosgrove.
“In 18 months we have converted UK technology into a commercial product, significantly changing the pollution issues facing chewing gum.” added co-author Roger Pettman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
The new additive has not received approval yet but “we are planning our product launch for 2008,” said Pettman.
“However, it is still not perfect. Cotton and leather shoes still present a problem, even with the new gum.”
In July, the Irish Ministry of the Environment came up with one million euro prize, through an open competition, to any Irish team which would develop a non-stick chewing gum.
“I’m very excited about this development as non-stick chewing gum could revolutionize how we address this scourge of our pavements, which are literally plastered with millions of congealed black blobs. This is a major problem as gum litter is defacing our famous landmarks and streets, and is incredibly expensive and time consuming to remove. As fast as we clear it the gum returns, and although educating people not to spit gum out on the street in the first place must be the top priority, anything which helps tackle the consequence of such selfish and anti-social behavior is welcome.” said Dr Leith Penny, Director of Environment and Leisure, Westminster City Council.