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Is this new shoe a solution to chewing gum waste?

The streets of Amsterdam could soon be littered with much less chewing gum thanks to a project launched by city marketing group Iamsterdam. 

The group has said that roughly 1.5 million kilogrammes (3.3 million pounds) of gum finds its way onto the streets of Amsterdam each year. As well as costing millions of dollars to clean up, the gum can take more than 20 years to fully biodegrade, making it a serious risk to the environment. 

Iamsterdam decided enough was enough and started to look for a way to turn this useless waste into something useful.

The first step was to recruit a specialised cleaning team to collect gum from all over the city. It then teamed up with Amsterdam-based footwear brand Explicit to create the first shoe that features a sole made from recycled chewing gum. It calls it the Gumshoe.

The sole compound, which is called Gum-Tec, was developed by sustainability company Gumdrop. Its managing director and designer, Anna Bullus, explains: “We discovered gum is made from a synthetic rubber. And by breaking down these properties, we were able to create a new type of rubber.”

Recycled gum makes up 20% of the content of this compound, with around one kilogramme (2.2 pounds) of gum used in every four pairs of shoes. It is formed as granules before being moulded into the sole of the shoe. 

The rest of the shoe is made from leather. It comes in two colours: bubblegum pink and black with red soles. 

The partners hope to expand the Gumshoe project to other major cities and want to introduce a more sustainable way for people to dispose of their used chewing gum.

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