How Gum Became a Problem For the 2012 London Olympic Games

If you live anywhere near people and sidewalks, you’ve probably seen pieces of old chewing gum stuck to the pavement. Whether you chew it or not, it’s obvious that there’s a problem when 80%-90% of chewing gum isn’t disposed of properly. Good examples are the “Gum Wall” — a brick wall covered in used chewing gum located in an alleyway near Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle — and Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo. The gum on both walls is several inches thick and both walls have been named as one of the most germ-laden tourist attractions in the country. The city of London in England has its own experience with used chewing gum. To prepare for the 2012 London Olympic Games, a city cleanup crew spent three months steam cleaning 300,000 pieces of gum off less than two miles of street. It cost the city between 16¢ and $3 to remove each wad of gum. Some cities are so fed up that they've taken drastic measures. Singapore, in fact, banned chewing gum completely unless the chewer has a prescription from a doctor or dentist, as in the case of nicotine gum. The worst part of chewing gum is that it’s not biodegradable. That means chewing gum can’t be recycled naturally. In fact, gum can’t be recycled at all. Instead, the synthetic plastics will always stay on earth as plastic, even if it’s in microscopic quantities.


Gum Wall - Seattle

Bubblegum Alley - San Luis Obispo