Bubble gum is a more elastic chewing gum that was invented in 1928 by Walter Diemer who was exploring new gum recipes. Its unique flavor is a result of a combination of synthetic artificial flavors. Historically, manikara chicle, a coniferous tree native to Central America, was used as the base ingredient. Today, food-grade butyl rubber is used for economic, quality and environmental reasons. The resources used and waste generated from bubble gum do affect the environment.
Bubble gum is a type of chewing gum first sold by Philadelphia-based company Fleer under the name Dubble Bubble. It contains five key ingredients: the chewing gum bas, which uses rosin from pine trees or butyl rubber to enhance the gum texture, sugar and corn sweeteners, softeners refined with vegetable oil, artificial flavoring such as ethyl methylphenylglycidate, and coloring. When made, the ingredients are initially blended, processed through rollers, pressed into sheets, and temperature conditioned to preserve the bubble gum texture.
Although in recent years scientists have invented artificial ingredients for chewing gum, many of the natural resources needed to make gum can have adverse affects on the environment. The use of chicle and rosin trees for a natural gum base along with the rubber industry have endangered the trees and caused deforestation. The industrial process and waste generated to synthesize many of the ingredients, including the gum base and sweetener, also pollute the environment.
While individual pieces of gum contain minute amounts of environmentally hazardous material, mass gum littering can cause accumulative issues. The chemicals used to clean gum off pavement are toxic to the environment. Gum itself is not biodegradable and can pose a threat to specific ecosystems. Animals, such birds, can mistake gum for food and death can occur from digestion. Isoamyl acetate, a gum flavor ingredient, is a bee pheromone, and so littered gum products can disrupt bee behavior. It is also a hotbed for bacteria, consequently creating an unsanitary environment for humans.
Large amounts of energy and resources are needed for the industrial production of bubble gum due to its high global demand. Annually, more than 650,000 metric tons of gum is produced and consumed, not including the waste generated for production. Waste is a byproduct, not only of the main production line for bubble gum, but the separate processes for synthesizing the rubber base, sweetener and other ingredients. Outside of production, the wrapping and packaging process uses paper products and transportation of the product contributes to air pollution.