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Gum Walls being tested: A new place for chewing gum in Bonn

Gum Walls being tested : A new place for chewing gum in Bonn

Bonnorange, the municipal waste authority has erected 20 “Gum Walls" to be tested in the city center and at some bus stops. The walls are intended to ensure the environmentally friendly and sustainable removal of chewing gum.

People can only create change when they actually take on the challenge. Bonnorange, the municipal waste authority has now taken on the challenge of educating gum chewers. Rather than disposing of their gum on the street, they should put used gum on a so-called “Gum Wall.” On Friday, the first of these walls was introduced.

It is situated where Wenzelgasse leads into Bertha-von-Suttner-Platz, an orange box with a window in which you can see all kinds of smileys and other symbols. People are invited to leave their chewing gum on it, the wall is emptied regularly. According to Walter Schneider of Bonnorange, about 20 of these boxes are being set up on a trial basis in Bonn city center and also at bus stops in front of some schools.

Up to 50 pieces of thrown away chewing gum per square meter were counted on Wenzelgasse, said Schneider, who is in charge of this project. In response to this finding, Bonnorange wanted to take action. The first step was to get rid of the gum. Several methods were tested in July of 2018, including steam blasting and a special sweeper that works with water and steam - and according to Schneider, this is still an ongoing project. However, the test had also shown that a great deal of effort and high costs had to be expected.

"When cleaning takes place, we want to make sure that it stays clean," he said. That's the second step, and that's where the Gum Wall comes in. According to inventor and company boss Klaus Götz, it has already been installed in other cities - the boxes can be found in Frankfurt, Limburg, Berlin, Stuttgart, Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg, for example - as well as at train stations and airports, where it has achieved measurable success. "The Gum-Walls reduce on average 40 to 60 percent of chewing gum." In addition, this is accompanied by a general decrease in littering. The Gum Wall is also being used in other European countries.

Gum Wall situated near eateries

According to Schneider, the location on Wenzelgasse was chosen because there are many shops where you can buy something to eat - from kebab stands to bakeries. In order to eat something, the mouth has to be empty, and that's why a lot of chewing gum is thrown on the ground. With the new wall, people can press their gum on the smileys or throw them directly into the opening.

They then stick to paper that is easy to remove and disposed of through burning. But Götz says that burning will soon be replaced by a new idea. If everything goes smoothly, Gum-Wall GmbH will present its pocket ashtrays made of recycled chewing gum, cigarette butts and paper at the World Clean-up Day on September 21. There is also the idea of attaching containers for cigarette butts to the Gum-Wall so smokers don’t throw them on the ground.

According to Schneider, the test phase for the gum walls will run until spring, when the results will be evaluated, with the cost factor weighed in. Based on experience in other cities, Götz estimated the costs at 80 to 120 euros per Gum Wall for mounting, emptying and filling. It also needs to be considered whether arrows or other signs should also be displayed at the sites, preferably on the ground, where most chewing gum currently ends up.

(Orig. text: Stefan Knopp, Translation: ck)