Wellington boots produced using waste chewing gum
Teknor Apex is the latest compounder to work alongside Gumdrop Ltd, the innovative start up that turns waste chewing gum into polymers, in order to help the company develop methods for commercial scale production.
Gumdrop, which already produced smaller items using its Gum-Tec compounds, says the challenge was to devise formulation and manufacturing techniques for an altogether new type of raw material in order to produce commercial-scale quantities of compounds.
These compounds had to consistently meet the requirements of specific applications, including optimised elasticity, compression set, tensile properties, and other mechanical properties, as well as processability.
“We assembled a multi-disciplinary team drawing on our capabilities for materials analysis, process engineering, and manufacturing,” said Stef Hordijk, senior market manager for Teknor Apex.
“The team addressed basic considerations such as feeding it into our equipment, formulating compound recipes using this unique raw material, determining optimal compounding process parameters, and other issues posed by such an unusual feedstock.”
The chewing gum waste comprises up to 30 percent of the new gum-based TPE compounds.
“Like standard TPEs, the Gum-Tec compounds we have developed exhibit a low compression set, can be formulated for either glossy or matte finishes, readily accept colours, and are recyclable,” said Hordijk.
Among the first commercial applications for the advanced Gum-Tec compounds is Wellington boots, with other uses including caster wheels, automotive bumpers and floor mats, window gaskets, wristwatch straps, toothbrush grips, and extruded pencils.
“Our aim is to divert the substantial amount of chewing gum waste and convert it into Gum-Tec compounds for use in the runner and plastics market, giving this waste stream a second life and putting it to use in high-quality end products that contribute to sustainability,” said Anna Bullus, Director at Gumdrop Ltd.
“Every kilogram of chewing gum that goes into a Gum-Tec compound means one less kilogram going to the landfill.”