Sunday, November 8, 2015

Are Gum Wrappers Recyclable?

Chewing gum, regardless of brand or flavor, is made from the same basic ingredients. These basic ingredients are gum base, softeners, sweeteners and flavorings.

Gum base is the main ingredient in chewing gum, which makes it soft and chewable. Although the main ingredients of gum are the same, some of the flavoring ingredients are kept a secret with very guarded recipes.

Chewing gum was originally made from a type of latex sap called chicle. The sap came from the sapodilla tree, rubber tree, or other sap tree. “Today many modern chewing gums use rubber instead of chicle. In the middle 1900s, chemists learned to make synthetic rubber, which became a substitute for most natural rubber in chewing gums. Most gums are made from a synthetic rubber, or a mixture of artificial and natural bases.

Softeners made from glycerin or vegetable oil-based products keep chewing gum soft and pliable and sweeteners like sugar, artificial sweeteners, or corn syrup are added to give gum its sweet flavor. Beet juice has even been used as a sugar substitute.

Today, chewing gum is wrapped in waxed paper, plasticized paper, or foil paper. Unfortunately, none of these types of wrappers are recyclable…and for a couple reasons.

The wrappers themselves are a made of mixed commodity substances and without extensive processes in place to separate them, they remain non-recyclable.

Also, for how extremely small gum wrappers are, considering the vast majority of gum chewers wad the wrappers up in a ball before throwing it into either the trash or recycling, it will tend to literally fall through the cracks of any large recycling process and get taken to the landfill.

Although total chewing gum sales have fallen in the past decade, it is still a billion dollar industry. Unfortunately, the wrappers remain a trash item.

1 comment: