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Design Student Tackles Scourge of Used Bubblegum

The Gumdrop program is twofold, providing handy waste bins for “ABC” gum and products that recycle that used gum.


25-year-old design student Anna Bullus–who’s created “optical illusion” stools and shape-shifting couches–is now tackling the urban blight caused by used chewing gum. Her Gumdrop program has two parts: first, handy bins that encourage gum disposal; and second, a process she invented to make new products out of recycled gum.

Bullus first began thinking about recycling gum after seeing the pockmarked sidewalks surrounding her school, Brighton University. She realized that gum was simply modified rubber and should therefore be able to be recycled. But it took her eight months to perfect a process of her own invention, which first turns used gum into pellets then into a plastic using secret additives.

For the Gumdrop program, Bullus then created bins for bubblegum, which are currently scattered around central London.


From the gum she gathers, Bullus plans on creating products using her recycling process. Already, she’s working on a seat cushion that feels like memory foam–and naturally, comes in what looks like an oversized gum wrapper:

Chewy Pad

Chewy Pad

Currently, the Gumdrop bins are awaiting a larger scale roll-out, and Bullus is already thinking about what other products she could make with the gum that she collects. As she points out, it all makes economic sense: Britain alone spends $230 million a year removing chewing gum from sidewalks–they’d be totally clean in four months if no more gum was tossed on them. Moreover, it costs three times as much money to remove the gum as it costs to produce it, so it makes sense for the bins to be everywhere. (Wouldn’t it also make sense, given the UK’s pinko socialist leanings, to tax the gum companies?)

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.