New chewing gum is easy to remove, say scientistsIt's less sticky formula could save clean up costs

14 September 2007

Scientists claim to have finally invented an easy-to-remove chewing gum.

Revolymer, a spin-off company from the University of Bristol, claims its new Clean Gum can be easily removed from shoes, clothes, pavements and hair.

Preliminary results also show the gum will degrade naturally in water and disappear from pavements within 24 hours.

The gum will hit the shelves next year and could save councils millions of pounds in clean-up costs if it proves a hit with consumers.

Professor Terence Cosgrove, of the University of Bristol and chief scientific officer of Revolymer said: '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.

Less adhesive

'The basis of our technology is to add an amphiphilic polymer to a modified chewing gum formulation which alters the interfacial properties of the discarded gum cuds, making them less adhesive to most common surfaces.'

In two high street trials, leading commercial gums remained stuck to the pavement three out of four times.

But the Revolymer gum was removed within 24 hours by natural events every time.

The cost of removing gum from the streets - using spay jets, chemicals, and even laser removals - is estimated to cost local authorities more than £150m a year.

Gum tax

A group of 20 councils were so fed up with the sticky problem last year that they called for a 1p tax on every pack sold to help cover the huge costs of cleaning gum off the streets.

In Singapore chewing gum was banned in 1992, although the rules were relaxed in 2004 to allow the consumption of gum with "therapeutic value".

Companies have been racing to develop a non-stick gum, but have struggled to find a formula which will be effective on different types of surfaces.

There are also doubts over whether a less sticky variety will still appeal to consumers.

Degradable

But Revolymer are confident they have finally cracked it.

Roger Pettman, Revolymer's chairman and chief executive officer, said: 'In eighteen months we have converted UK technology into a commercial product, significantly changing the pollution issues facing chewing gum.

'A removable, degradable chewing gum is becoming a reality. Our initial research focused on the removability of Clean Gum from a variety of surfaces and we have shown that our technology has made a step change in chewing gum as a consumer product. We are planning our product launch for 2008.'

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