Chewing Gum Goes Organic and Biodegradable

Chewing gum has long been the bane of teachers and street cleaners...and the love of dentists. Made of synthetic chicle, sugar and flavouring it causes cavities, and sticks to the pavement--costing millions in street cleaning.

Now a small co-operative in the Mexican rainforest is bringing back the original chicle processing skills to make a chewing gun that is certified organic and saving the rainforest. Called Chicza Rainforest Gum, it will be sold in supermarkets in Britain very soon.
photo from Mexicolore

The chicle industry almost died out after the development of synthetic chicle in the 1950's. The co-operative, located on the edge of a rainforest reserve, has developed this sustainable and organic gum as a way to revive the industry and the skills. The chicleros, as they are called, preserve the rainforest whilst getting the white sap from the trees. As they say: "We don't kill the trees like farmers do when they clear land to grow corn or graze cattle. We leave a wound, it's true, but eight years after it is healed and producing chicle again."

The other bonus is that the gum is biodegradable and starts to break down right after chewing. UK councils spend more than £150 million a year on cleaning streets so this is a big plus. Since 28m people chew gum every year in Britain, buying almost 1bn packs a year, this could be a great boon for Chicza....too bad about the dentists.

Some gummy facts:

- Wrigley and Cadbury Schweppes account for 60 per cent of the world market in chewing gum
- Every year, 935 million packs of gum are chewed by 28 million Britons
- A packet of Wrigley's gum was the first item to be scanned by a barcode reader
- It is illegal to import chewing gum into Singapore. Guardian

Tags: Cooperatives | Deforestation | Mexico