Scientists at University College Cork are working on a biodegradable gum that can be digested or worn away by the elements.
Elke Arendt, head of the research team, said the gum is based on proteins from cereals rather than synthetic rubber.
The project, which started in the spring of this year, involves isolating proteins from a wide range of cereals. Enzymes were then added and a new form of processing technology has been used in order to end up with a base material for a chewing gum of similar elasticity to that of a traditional chewing gum base material.
This new type of gum should vanish within a few days if spat out onto the street. Speaking on RTÉ radio, Elke said: ‘Also when you swallow it, it would be very easy to digest just the same as if you were eating bread.’
It is expected that another 30 months of research will be needed before the gum is in its final form.
It is reported that in just one month, Dublin City Council removed an estimated 180,000 pieces of embedded gum from Grafton Street alone.