From carrying a reusable water bottles to choosing totes over carrier bags, most of us are already doing our bit to reduce the amount of plastic we use in our day-to-day lives. What a surprising number of us don’t realise, however, is that our chewing gum habit could be cancelling out all of that hard work.
Almost all commercial chewing gum contains plastic – specifically a butadiene-based synthetic rubber made from oil – and according to Just One Ocean, those harmless-looking pellets and strips contribute 100,000 tonnes of plastic pollution every year.
Not only this, but local councils are believed to spend around £60 million a year removing gum from pavements up and down the country.
Now Iceland has become the first supermarket in the UK to sell a plastic-free chewing gum, Simply Gum, which is made from a tree sap called chicle, and completely biodegradeable.
The decision to stock the product forms part of the supermarket’s pledge to go ‘plastic-free’ on its own label products – something the chain aims to fulfil by the end of 2023.
Off the back of the announcement, Iceland conducted research which showed that 80 per cent of consumers have no idea what regular chewing gum is actually made of – but once they found out more than three quarters of gum buyers said they would think twice about buying regular chewing gum again in the future.
Sir Malcolm Walker, Iceland founder and executive chairman, commented: ‘I absolutely detest the mess that discarded plastic chewing gum creates on our streets, and the fortune that is wasted by councils trying to clear it up.
‘For decades, regular gum makers have hidden their synthetic ingredients behind the catch-all term of “gum base” which is consistently used as an ingredient on pack. Simply Gum uses the original, natural gum base of chicle and is fully biodegradable.
‘We are delighted to make it available to UK consumers in our stores so that they can have a real choice about what they are consuming and the impact they make on the environment.’
Simply Gum is now available in mint, maple and ginger flavours in Iceland stores across the country and online, priced £2 for a pack of 15.