Innovation That Matters

The “Off The Street” gum wheel initiative | Photo source L'École De Design

Old chewing gum transformed into skateboard wheels

Architecture & Design

The used gum is cleaned, treated with a stabilising agent, heated and remoulded to form skateboard wheels

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Spotted: Efforts to rid city streets of chewing gum are as old as gum itself. Modern chewing gum is made from synthetic rubbers that can take 50 years to start decomposing, making it a long-term mess. Now, two students at the School of Design in Nantes, France, have developed a plan to collect wads of used chewing gum and repurpose it into skateboard wheels.

The students, Hugo Maupetit and Vivian Fischer were inspired during a brainstorming session for a designed-focused way to tackle the urban problem. They came up with the “Off The Street” gum wheel initiative, which featured an imagined collaboration with Vans and Mentos. 

The pair suggested that “gum boards” be placed around the city, on which chewers could stick their used gum. Once the gum boards are filled, they can be collected and the gum cleaned, treated with a stabilising agent, heated and remoulded to form skateboard wheels. Natural dyes could be used to add vibrant colours to the rubber wheels.

Maupetit and Fischer explain that the initiative is designed to clean the streets in a sustainable way, saying “That is why we invented a system that will transform used wheels and turn them into new ones. No more waste is created and the material stays in use.” They add that, “We thought, why not take this characteristic waste of the city and use it to make it greener. The bold colours and texture of chewing gum is the perfect fit for use in skate wheels.”

The combination of the fact that chewing gum is essentially rubber and is a real nuisance has also encouraged others to recycle it into new products. At Springwise, we have previously covered a company that turned recycled gum into new shoes,  as well as into a base material that can be moulded into a range of products, from phone covers to packaging.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

Explore more: Architecture & Design Innovations | Sustainability Innovations



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