Belfast school recycles chewing gum
Ashfield Girls' High School has become the first in Northern Ireland to embrace a new scheme which turns chewing gum into mobile phone covers.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
The Belfast school will use recycling bins to stop gum from going into landfill and it is estimated the initiative could save up to £6,000 a year in cleaning costs.
Chewing gum will be collected in the special bins, known as Gumdrops, and recycled to help make more bins and other products including mobile phone covers.
Figures show secondary school children are the top consumers of chewing gum, and it is hoped the 700 pupils who attend Ashfield Girls' will learn more about recycling and its benefits thanks to the Gumdrops bins.
Ashfield Principal Alison Mungavin: "This innovative way to dispose of gum will not only help maintain our excellent levels of cleanliness at this school - reflected in our Green Eco-Schools flag - it will also be a practical way of teaching and inspiring pupils about recycling, which is now part of the school's curriculum."
It could also dramatically cut clean-up costs, with councils across the UK spending around £20,000 a year tackling the litter problem caused by people spitting their gum on the ground.
Jim Ferguson from Belfast City Council said streets across the city are covered in gum.
"Litter wardens have a difficult task detecting people who litter gum, as they usually spit it onto the ground quickly. I am interested in taking this idea back to the council," he added.
The 25 bins have been installed in partnership with Amey, the school's facilities management provider.
Stephen Long, who heads up the Amey facilities management team at the school, said he hopes it will be a cost effective addition to the cleaning regime.
"We've positioned them in strategic areas in the school, where we get high levels of gum littering, such as the top of stair wells and the access road to the school, which is shared with Ashfield Boys' High School," he added.
The initiative is the latest in a series of green measures at the school, which already uses solar panels to cut heating costs, and harvests and recycles rainwater.
Ashfield became eco-friendly after a £18 million rebuild that was completed in September 2009.