At Aqua Libra Co, we’re committed to sustainability. Aqua Libra Co’s energy-efficient, zero-limescale water dispensers are key players in the refill revolution.
This month is Plastic Free July, a global initiative headed up by the Plastic Free Foundation. This is the perfect time to make changes to the way we perceive plastic, use plastic, and dispose of plastic. Plastic Free July is a time for forming new habits.
So, let’s have a look at chewing gum.
Historians and anthropologists have discovered evidence of chewing habits as long ago as 4000 BC. Resins from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), spruce trees (genus Picea), and trees in the genus Manilkara (including M chicle) were commonly sourced for the purpose of chewing. Dental health was probably the leading incentive for chewing.
Commercial production of chewing gum began in North America in the mid-1800s. Bases for this early gum included pine resin and chicle (resin of Manilkara trees). Paraffin wax was also used as a base for chewing gum, but it was customary to keep a plate of sugar to hand so the gum could be sweetened by repeated dipping.
Since the 1960s, chewing-gum manufacturers have discarded natural resins for plastics. These are just a few of the plastics used as an ingredient in chewing gum: styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR), which is commonly used for making pneumatic tyres; polyethylene, the material of plastic bags; and polyvinyl acetate, an ingredient of paints and adhesives.
An estimated 374 billion pieces of chewing gum are sold every year, worldwide. With an average weight of 1.5g, these 374 billion spent pieces of chewing gum add up to 561 million kg. A large portion of this mass is plastic waste, and, until recently, it’s all ended up in landfill sites.
This could be changing, though, and the change has been kick-started by Gumdrop, a UK company that provides bins for chewing gum. The used gum is recycled into a proprietary product called Gum-tec, which is used to manufacture other plastic goods, including gumboots, packaging … and Gumdrop bins! Like most recycling exercises, the Gumdrop scheme brings financial benefits; in a three-month trial, Heathrow Airport saved £6,000 on cleaning costs.
It was the people of Mesoamerica who first used chicle, the resin of Manilkara trees, as chewing gum. Today, the natural resources of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula rainforest are sustainably managed by the indigenous Mayan people, known as chicleros, who, for more than a century, have produced and traded chicle as an ingredient. But since the turn of the 21st century, the chicleros have been producing their own brand of natural chewing gum. It’s called Chicza, and it’s available in a variety of flavours, including wild mint, Mexican lime, cinnamon, and mixed berry.
Another brand of natural-base chewing gum is Chewsy, designed and created by a UK-based family business, Chewsy UK Ltd. This young company, incorporated in 2018, is already exporting their product to countries all over the world. Chewsy gum, which is available in lemon, cinnamon, peppermint, and spearmint flavours, is 100% biodegradable.
It’s always best to recycle plastic rather than allow it to end up in a landfill site or in the sea. Even better than recycling, however, is not to use the plastic in the first place. With reduced demand for single-use plastic items, fewer will be manufactured. Eventually, single-use plastic could be a thing of the past.
An Aqua illi or Aqua Alto tap is capable of dispensing more than 60 litres of highly filtered chilled water, or purified near-boiling water, every hour. By offering refill opportunities, an Aqua Libra Co tap can potentially eliminate hundreds of single-use plastic bottles and coffee cups daily.