How long does chewing gum take to decompose? 

First we need to understand what is conventional chewing gum is made of and what makes it stick around for so long? 

You’ve probably heard the rumour on the playground back in the day: If you swallow chewing gum it will stay in your stomach for 7 years.. But is this really true? Let’s find out.

There are a few common ingredients in chewing gum that you might expect. Such as sugar, artificial sweetener, flavouring, softening and bulking agents. 

But there’s one last chewing gum ingredient which is the main cause for all the damage, the rubber base. 

Rubbers; whether natural or synthetic, are polymers – fortunately chemists are whizzes at making all kinds of polymers with various properties!

The most commonly used rubber/ plasticy base is called Butyl Rubber.

Chewing gum ingredients: Butyl Rubber


Ever wonder why the pavements have little black blobs, that’s the pesky ingredient Butyl Rubber in chewing gum!

Chewing gum on pavements

Governments are going to lengthy lengths to rid the streets of chewing gum, take for example, this fund where chewing gum companies will back for £10m to help clean up the high streets riddled with chewing gum. The cost to clean chewing gum from the streets is estimated at £7m every year. 

The time for chewing gum to decompose depends on whether it’s been spat on the street or swallowed up! Unfortunately it’s myth busted for the digestion of gum, it’s more like 7-days to completely pass through your system then 7 years that you might have heard on the school playground! Unfortunately as you may expect, chewing gum spat out on the street is a much different question, with decomposition time ranging from anywhere between 5 and 1,000 years. This is largely due to it’s ingredients containing plastic and other synthetic materials.

Biodegradable chewing gum: What is it?

Biodegradable chewing gum is a plant based alternative to the plasticy, rubbery conventional chewing gum that you see all over the streets. These types of biodegradable chewing gums are able to get their alternative chewiness from things like sustainably-harvested tree sap called chicle. Flavoured with natural oils and plant-based derivatives, these chewing gums pack the same punch you’re looking for!

Biodegradable chewing gum

Try our favourite Smooth Spearmint biodegradable and plastic-free chewing from Bare Gum. 

Bella and Jamie (Founders of Bare Gum) were shocked when they learnt about some of the crazy facts about chewing gum brands.. That they contain plastics and synthetic rubber – the same material that can be found in car tyres! 

So they set off on a mission to create Bare Gum, a great tasting chewing gum that didn’t contain any nasties or plastic and was made from plants. After a year of research and product testing, they introduced Bare Gum to the market!


Is biodegradable chewing gum better?

Yes, it certainly is! This type of chewing gum is better for the environment and cleaner for the streets, with a decomposition time as little as 2 weeks! It’s estimated from Keep Britain Tidy that 95/100 pavements in the UK are stained with chewing gum and an estimated 250,000 tons of waste in landfill is a result of chewing gum every year, worst of all living organisms cannot break it down!

As biodegradable chewing gum is made from plants and natural ingredients, even if it does end up in landfill it will mean that microorganisms can easily break it down and digest it. Worst case if it’s spat out onto the streets it’ll be gone within 2 weeks. Not 5-1,000 years like conventional chewing gum!


Our summary on Biodegradable chewing gum

Innovations like biodegradable chewing gum come once in a lifetime and we’re so glad it has finally come. Personally, nothing is more horrible than the black spots all over the pavements from someone 10 years ago. Biodegradable chewing gum is a fantastic new alternative to conventional gum with an incredible decomposition time, reducing the impact on the environment and micro organisms. 

Give Bare Gum a try! It won’t disappoint.