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Plastic-free chewing gum launched by Iceland

06 August 2018

Iceland has become the first supermarket chain in the UK to sell plastic free chewing gum. 

The primary ingredient in most chewing gum is gum base – a non-biodegradable substance made with synthetic polymers, plasticisers, softeners, texturisers and emulsifiers. With more than 100,000 tons of chewing gum being 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.

Simply Gum is made from a tree sap called chicle which is extracted from the sapodilla tree, native to Central America. The decision to stock the product forms part of Iceland’s mission to enable UK consumers to reduce their single-use plastic consumption. This has included a pledge to go plastic-free in its own label food packaging by the end of 2023.

Sir Malcolm Walker, founder and executive chairman at Iceland, said: “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 choice about what they are consuming and the impact they make on the environment.”

Before launching the new gum Iceland, 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. In particular, 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. 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.

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