What to do with that wad of flavorless, chewed-up gum in your mouth? In Mexico City you can recycle it for the manufacture of plastic garbage buckets.
Chewing gum manufacturer Mondelez has kicked-off a recycling program called El chicle al bote (gum to the bin) in the historic center of the city through an alliance with the recycling company TerraCycle and the city government.
The project has installed 75 special containers in which the gum can be disposed of.
Placed on lamp posts on various streets, the containers will be emptied once a week and their contents sent to a TerraCycle processing plant in Monterrey, Nuevo León.
The gum will be cleaned and converted into new polymers that can be used to create new products, said the United-States based TerraCycle on its website.
The popularity of chewing gum among Mexico City residents made national news some five years ago when the local government had to purchase special machinery to remove the massive amount of used gum that was stuck to the sidewalks on downtown streets.
The president of the Citizens’ Council in Mexico City, Luis Wertman, explained that removing a single piece of gum from the sidewalk costs 9 pesos (nearly US $0.50). Multiplied by 200,000, the estimated number of pieces of gum stuck on just five streets in the historic center, its removal represents a cost of at least 2 million pesos (over $104,000).
Such an amount could instead be invested in something of greater importance, said Wertman.
The domestic market for Mondelez’s Trident brand chewing gum is its second largest in the world, second only to the United States.
The company says Mexicans consume up to 210 grams of chewing gum per person per year.
The newspaper Excélsior reported that the largest chewing gum production plant operates in Mexico. Half of the plant’s yield is sold domestically, while the other half is exported to other markets.