Southampton Airport has installed special chewing gum recycling bins, making it the first airport in the world to do so, reports.

Twenty-five pink Gumdrop bins – which comprise a big pink plastic bauble – have been fitted around the airport to collect wasted chewing gum. The contents are emptied and given a ‘second life’ through a recycling process, before being used in the manufacture of toys, mobile phone covers and car tyres.

The airport’s managing director, Dave Lees, said that it had adopted the innovation to prevent gum being ‘splattered on the floor’. It is hoped that the Gumdrop bins will save the airport around £3,000 annually in specialist cleaning costs. Airports are particularly prone to gum littering, Lees continued, as passengers chew it to ‘equalise pressure in their ears’.

The Gumdrop is the brainchild of West Sussex entrepreneur Anna Bullus, who had the idea while at university, confirmed. Curious about the ways in which waste was being dealt with, she did some research and discovered not such process was in place for dealing with chewing gum.

The proliferation of ‘spent’ gum is not only ruining the landscape, she said, but it is a valuable material which is being wasted. 

According to statistics from Defra, nine out of ten paving stones typically have gum stuck to them. This costs British taxpayers some £150 million in street cleaning.

Over 1,000 Gumdrop bins are now in circulation at schools, railways stations and other businesses.

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