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Iceland launches plastic-free chewing gum

Iceland has become the only supermarket chain in the UK to sell plastic-free chewing gum
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

With more than 100,000 tons of chewing gum consumed every year, it is estimated that 95% of Britain’s streets are now stained with the substance, and local councils spend around £60m each year cleaning it up.

The primary ingredient in most chewing gum is ‘gum base’ – a non-biodegradable substance made with synthetic polymers (plastic), plasticisers, softeners, texturisers and emulsifiers among other ingredients, which impart their unique properties to chewing gum.

As part of its mission to help UK consumers to reduce their single-use plastic consumption, Iceland has become the first UK supermarket chain to sell plastic-free chewing gum – Simply Gum. The launch follows Iceland’s pledge to go plastic-free in its own-label food packaging by the end of 2023.

Biodegradable chewing gum

Simply Gum is made from all natural ingredients and is completely biodegradable, making it better for the environment. The gum is made from a tree sap called chicle which is extracted from the sapodilla tree, native to Central America.

A pack of 15, in Mint, Maple and Ginger flavours, costs £2.

‘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.’

Iceland founder and executive chairman

What’s in chewing gum?

Before launching the new gum Iceland, working in partnership with food psychologist Dr Christy Fergusson, commissioned research among 2,000 UK adults which found that 80% had no idea what ordinary chewing gum is made of. 85% were unaware that it usually contains plastic.

Around 60% of those surveyed use chewing gum and of those who do, around two-thirds said they would prefer a gum which isn’t made from synthetic ingredients.

More than three-quarters of gum buyers said they would think twice about buying regular chewing gum again in the future.

Cutting down on plastic

The survey also found that 85% of participants think brands have a responsibility to make it clearer what ingredients their products contain.

Nine in 10 are worried about the damage being done to the environment by plastic, and three-quarters said they have actively attempted to cut down of the amount of products they purchase that contain or are packaged in plastic.

Caron Proschan, the creator of Simply Gum, said she created Simply Gum because she ‘recognised a need for a natural gum that was made with high quality, sustainable ingredients’.

‘We chose Iceland as our UK launch partner because of this shared commitment to quality and sustainability’, Caron added. ‘Iceland continues to lead the way in terms of enabling consumers to make informed and responsible choices. We’re excited to introduce Simply Gum to the UK market and we hope that Iceland’s customers will be excited about trying a better chew.’

Click here for more about the beer made from Iceland’s leftover bread.

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