Is Gum Littering? (And a Waste?)

The average American chews 1.8 pounds of gum yearly. And in 2020 alone, statistics recorded that north of 160 million U.S. residents chewed gum. There are many personal reasons for this – whether it’s curbing a bad breath, trying to stay awake, improving your memory, or breaking a bad habit.

Well, if you chew gum regularly, you must consider its effects on the environment. How do you dispose of the waste when you’re done? The sweet flavor may last a few hours, but you’ll eventually throw it away.

Is gum littering? The straight answer is yes. In fact, it’s the second-largest source of litter globally, and this article will show you why. You’ll also discover whether it decomposes when you throw it on the ground. If it’s biodegradable, it just might. So, are there biodegradable gum brands? Keep reading to find out!

Is Spitting Gum On The Floor Littering?

Littering is dropping or leaving an artificial object in the ecosystem. When you litter, you put things without the intention of ever coming back to get them or ultimately leave them for others to dispose of for you.

Unarguably, spitting gum on the floor is littering and one of the highest forms. Chewing gum is an abnormal addition to the natural ecosystem. And it’s worse because it may not break down for a very long time.

Chewed gum doesn’t just pollute the environment, but it can also be tricky to remove. To make matters worse, some of our cleaning agents contain substances toxic to the ecosystem.

Chewing gum qualifies as litter when you dispose of it inappropriately. And as minute as it seems, countries often spend millions of dollars cleaning up the mess. Unfortunately, only ten to twenty percent of people dispose of their chewing gum properly.

The environmental effects are significant, and we all have a role. At the very least, you dispose of the waste properly.

Is Gum a Waste?

This is an emphatic yes! Waste is any material that’s been discarded because it is now useless. And after a few hours, we bet you become unable to taste the sweet flavor of the gum you’ve been chewing.

It’s a waste material that you should dispose of properly to reduce your carbon footprints.

Now, the common misconception or wrong belief is that gum is a tiny piece of litter, and it’ll leave minor impacts on the environment. However, imagine how much waste would be left behind if everyone thought this way.

Unfortunately, 80-90% of people who chew gum don’t dispose of it properly. And it’s not just a waste but also a sticky mess. Removing it from your shoes, clothing, hair, or body is tricky, but it’s not uncommon because of unsuitable disposal habits.

It’s even worse when you leave gum in the ecosystem. Most products are not biodegradable, so they won’t break down for a long time. It’s also not uncommon for chewed gum to find its way into the marine habitat.

Fish and other sea creatures can’t always distinguish between food and toxic waste, so they may consume the gum. This tiny waste material has more impact than you’d expect.

Is Gum Pollution?

Without a doubt, the gum is pollution and one of the worst kinds.

Pollution is an alteration or contamination of the environment by organic and inorganic matter. Simply put, anything can be pollution. These materials are often harmful and toxic and may not just harm humans but also the ecosystem.

Despite the seemingly small size of a stick of gum, it does untold damage. And because most products aren’t biodegradable, they may stick around for centuries without breaking down.

Nature cannot recycle it, but it can destroy the waste slowly. Non-biodegradable materials are made from non-natural substances that microorganisms cannot break down. Instead, time, weather changes, oxygen, and heat will result in its decomposition.

Gum is the kind of pollution that would impact all aspects of the ecosystem. Let’s start with how land animals perceive it and its impact on the food chain. Some of the flavors may still be left, and if a bird or rat finds it, they’ll undoubtedly be attracted.

When they mistake chewed gum for food, it often causes a blockage in their gut if it doesn’t choke them first. Or the chewed gum resides in their systems and builds up toxins until they die prematurely.

Sea creatures aren’t also spared. It’s not uncommon for fish and our other marine favorites to discover a piece of chewed gum. But when they eat it, it often kills them.

Now, what happens when the gum remains exactly where you dropped it. It’s pollution, and the worst kind because the material doesn’t decompose naturally.

It will take hundreds of years for the material to break down. And since it’s essentially synthetic plastic that doesn’t biodegrade, the environment will be unable to escape the detrimental effects of its decomposition.

Unfortunately, plastic never breaks down completely. That’s why it’s one of the most dangerous sources of pollution globally. The materials that are left behind are called microplastics.

There are more than enough things to convince you to dispose of your chewing gum properly. The environment can’t bear the impact of inappropriately placed waste, mainly because of the materials it’s made of.

Polyisobutylene, chicle, and plasticizers are the materials that make gum chewy for hours. It takes a soft and pliable form in the mouth because of its temperature during the manufacturing process.

And although these materials won’t harm you while you enjoy the yummy goodness, throwing it into the ecosystem won’t elicit a similar effect.

Is Orbit Gum Biodegradable?

Some people loyally honor a rule of thumb: never to leave home without a pack of gum. It’s a great lifestyle hack that’ll save you from embarrassment. You can also chew up a wad as an improvision for tape or glue.

Essentially, there are many reasons people chew gum. But for the sake of good health, it’s best to avoid too much sugar.

It is a common ingredient in gum, and maybe that’s why we love it so much. However, it’s terrible for your health, and brands like Orbit have promised that their brand is better for us.

But is it also good for the environment? We must ask the question of whether orbit gum is biodegradable. After all, it’ll end up in the ecosystem, according to statistics. Because even when you dispose of it in a waste bin, it will still end up in landfills.

Recycling would be the alternative, and we doubt anyone at the recycling center would enjoy the duty of sorting through chewed gum. And even if they somehow manage with this chore, it’ll certainly stick to the conveyor belt and other components of the recycling machine.

Now, it seems like all hope is lost regarding chewing gum products with fewer impacts on the environment. That’s where biodegradable gum comes in.

The bane of chewing gum is its plastic content, so has Orbit found a way to overcome that challenge? Well, if the ingredients on their list exclude polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate, then the gum is safe for the environment.

Polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate are two plastics that are commonly added to gum, giving it a chewy experience.

Sorbitol, Natural and artificial flavors, BHT, gum base, and soy lecithin. We’ve gone through the ingredients for every taste, and they don’t contain plastics.

So, Orbit gum is biodegradable; it’s primarily made of plant matter.

Is Trident Gum Biodegradable?

Another trusted brand for a fresher breath without compromising your health is Trident. It promises to clean and protect the teeth, remove harmful bacteria that cause bad breath, and fight cavities.

However, all these may be defeated if it’s not manufactured from the best materials. And considering the amount of gum Americans chew yearly, it’s not the safest thing for the environment to continue consuming a product that’ll wreak havoc on it.

Now, Trident gum is available in many flavors. And this brand is one of the pioneers of sugar-free products. But our concern is no longer about its effects on our health. Instead, is Trident gum biodegradable?

Well, anyone can answer the question, provided they understand the concept of biodegradability. And of course, the materials Trident gum and its wide varieties are made of also matter.

Most gum brands feature different plastics or polymers that won’t necessarily harm you while you chew.

After perusing the ingredients of Trident gum, it’s safe to say that it’s devoid of materials that may delay biodegradation and affect the ecosystem. As we’ve already mentioned, polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate are harmful substances that never break down completely.

They’re often present in gum, providing a chewy experience. However, when you dispose of the waste, you’re causing significant environmental damage.

Is There Plastic in Gum?

We believe it’s better to discuss the ingredients to determine just how safe chewing gum is. Naturally, there’ll be some differences in quantity while additional substances may also be added.

However, the gum base is a common material every brand uses. It comprises wax, resin, and elastomer. This makes it the chewable portion, often made up of natural and artificial components. Softeners, polyol coating, and flavorings are other important ingredients.

So, is there plastic in gum?

With all certainty, yes. There’s often plastic in gum, but it depends on your brand. Options like Trident and Orbit are renowned for making biodegradable gum, primarily because their ingredients are mostly plant matter.

This is good because the plastic in the gum may be small, but it does untold damage. And this should be your wake-up call if you’re fond of swallowing your gum waste instead of throwing it away.

It may seem like a better plan than leaving it in the ecosystem. But the damage it can do to your body is also significant and can be avoided.

In essence, polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate are plastics present in chewing gum. We believe a biodegradable product is better if you must eat this item because plastic from chewed gum contributes a whopping 100,000 tonnes to environmental pollution yearly.

Does Gum Decompose?

Saying that gum decomposes would be uttering an untruth. However, that can be contended when you buy a biodegradable brand. This means you must inspect the nutritional facts or ingredients for materials like polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate. If they’re present, then gum will not decompose.

How To Dispose of Chewing Gum?

Unfortunately, there’s only one way to dispose of chewing gum, and that’s putting it in the trash. This material is unsuitable for your health and may also be a dangerous source of pollution.

As such, it’s best to chew biodegradable products or consider other alternatives for concentration. And if you’re worried about bad breath, you can eat an apple instead.


Chewing gum serves many benefits, but unless you’re consuming the biodegradable kind, you’re not helping yourself or the environment in the long run.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.