Southampton Airport first to recycle gum

Gumdrop at Southampton Airport

Andy Foster of Amey, Gumdrop inventor Anna Bullus and Airport director David Lees

Southampton Airport has become the first in the world to install chewing gum recycling bins in its passenger terminal, further expanding its recycling facilities and tackling gum littering.

Twenty-five of the bins, known as ‘Gumdrops’, have been installed by the airport’s cleaning and maintenance provider Amey at key points throughout the terminal building.

The units are an eye-catching bubble gum pink in colour and the gum that’s disposed of in them will be recycled and used to help manufacture more GUMDROP units for use in the airport and elsewhere.  If used by the two million passengers that pass through the terminal each year, these units could save the airport up to £3,000 in cleaning costs.

“We’ve spent a considerable time over the years cleaning up gum from various areas in and around the terminal building. It may seem innocent enough to drop one bit of gum on the ground, but if large numbers of people do this, it becomes a time-consuming and unpleasant cleaning issue,”

says Andy Foster, Amey’s site services manager at the airport.

“The Gumdrops are a cost effective and eco-friendly addition to our cleaning regime.  We’ve positioned them in areas where we get high levels of gum littering, such as in the toilets and near the main airport entrance.  They’re easy to spot and we’ve already noticed an improvement as passengers start to make use of them.”

The gum that’s put into the Gumdrops is combined with recycled plastic to make more units, as well as other products such as mobile phone covers.  The more gum that’s disposed of in the GUMDROPs, the higher the proportion of recycled gum in the new products.

The Gumdrop is the brainchild of Anna Bullus from West Sussex, who came up with the idea while at university.  The process is the first in the world that allows gum to be recycled into a new useful material, rather than end up in landfill. She says,

“We are extremely excited to be working with Amey at Southampton Airport. It is a great opportunity to educate and inspire people from all walks of life to give gum a second life and pave the way for a cleaner, greener Southampton Airport.”

Dave Lees, Southampton Airport Managing Director commented,

“We have a number of different recycling facilities here at the airport and we’re pleased to be able to offer passengers this innovative alternative to disposing of their gum. The GUMDROPS will help maintain our excellent levels of cleanliness in and around the terminal.”

Amey is now looking to roll out Gumdrop at other contract sites nationwide, including other airport terminals.  Other venues that have embraced the Gumdrop include Legoland Windsor, Hereford town council and Virgin Trains.

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