Iceland is the first UK supermarket to sell plastic-free chewing gum as it attempts to fulfil its pledge to remove plastic from its own-label products by 2023
Grocery retailer Iceland has become the first supermarket in the UK to sell plastic-free chewing gum in a bid to reduce the financial strain on councils - which spend £60m removing the sticky substance from the nation’s streets every year.
More than 100,000 tonnes of chewing gum is consumed annually in Britain and an estimated 95% of the country’s streets are stained with it.
But Simply Gum is completely biodegradable and made from natural ingredients, including a tree sap called chicle, native to Central America.
The company says this makes it much better for the environment.
Sir Malcolm Walker, Iceland founder and executive chairman, said: “I absolutely detest the mess that discarded plastic chewing gum creates on our streets, and the fortune that is wasted by councils trying to clear it up.
“For decades, regular gum makers have hidden their synthetic ingredients behind the catch-all term of ‘gum base’, which is consistently used as an ingredient on pack.
“Simply Gum uses the original, natural gum base of chicle and is fully biodegradable.
“We are delighted to make it available to UK consumers in our stores so that they can have a real choice about what they are consuming and the impact they make on the environment.”
Iceland’s plastic-free chewing gum: Grounded in research
The supermarket’s move to stock the plastic-free chewing gum comes as part of its pledge to remove plastic from its own-label products by 2023.
Iceland conducted a survey of 2,000 UK adults, which found 80% do not know what ordinary chewing gum is made of, while 85% had no idea it typically contains plastic.
The research also showed about 60% of Brits use chewing gum and, of those, about two-thirds of those would prefer a product that doesn’t comprise synthetic ingredients.
Three-quarters said they would think twice about regular chewing gum again in the future after taking part in the study, while 85% felt the UK’s big brands have a responsibility to be more transparent when it comes to the ingredients they use.
Nine out of ten respondents said they are concerned about the damage plastic causes for the environment, and 75% have made a conscious effort to reduce the amount of products involving plastic they buy.
Food psychologist Dr Christy Fergusson, who is working in partnership with Iceland, said: “Over the past several years, as consumers we have become more conscious when it comes to the products we buy and the impact that our diet and lifestyle choices have on the environment.
“As a result, we want to know what we are purchasing, so we can make more informed decisions.
“With the introduction of Simply Gum, Iceland is taking another step forwards to that goal.”
Simply Gum creator excited for plastic-free chewing gum progress
Iceland’s research indicated that three-quarters of Brits believe products that use solely natural ingredients are healthier than those that don’t.
Furthermore, 40% reported they are buying fewer items which contain plastic and other synthetic materials than they did just five years ago.
New York-based Simply Gum creator Caron Proschan is keen to build on this.
She said: “I created Simply Gum because I recognised a need for a natural gum that was made with high quality, sustainable ingredients.
“We chose Iceland as our UK launch partner because of this shared commitment to quality and sustainability.
“Iceland continues to lead the way in terms of enabling consumers to make informed and responsible choices.
“We’re excited to introduce Simply Gum to the UK market and we hope that Iceland’s customers will be excited about trying a better chew.”
Simply Gum is now available in Iceland stores across the country and online. It costs £2 for a pack of 15 and comes in mint, maple and ginger flavours.