– Lane Simonds:
Over the last few years, I’m sure you’ve heard plenty about the plastic pollution problem. Our waterways will soon have more plastic waste than fish. This includes waste like water bottles and plastic bags. Innovative companies like Sparta Group have come up with ways to divert these types of plastics from oceans; however, chewing gum also contains plastic and until now no- one was even thinking about addressing gum waste.
The average person chews between 200-300 sticks of gum per year. A lot of it ends up in the trash, or worse, on walkways and in waterways. Most chewing gum is made from synthetic plastic polymers that don’t break down, but two design students from France believe they’ve found a way to deal with the gum waste – transform it into skateboard wheels.
Hugo Maupetit and Vivian Fischer started brainstorming one day and decided the bold colours of gum, as well as the texture would be great for use in skateboard wheels. They refer to it as “bringing the gum from the streets back to the streets.” They even took their concept a step further by imagining candy maker, Mentos and shoe manufacturer, Vans backing their venture.
Their project outlined Mentos would install gum boards in urban areas to encourage people to stick their gum to it, instead of tossing it in the garbage or elsewhere. When the boards are full, they would be collected, the gum would be cleaned, molded with a stabilizing agent, and turned into the base of the wheels. The wheels would have a tie-dye appearance.
Will the gum inspired wheels ever become a successful business? With the amount of attention, the two students seem to be getting, it’s a real possibility. Several environmental design publications have featured the idea and some mainstream media outlets have picked up on the story in recent weeks.
“Like any sustainable concept there will be a series of hurdles to cross in order to make something like this work, but we are so encouraged when we hear about young people imagining environmental solutions for tomorrow. The fact that they realize a circular approach to product development is the way to go, gives us great hope for the future,” said Sparta Group President and CTO John O’Bireck.