Launched in 2021 by its 29-year-old founder, Tom Raviv, with a £1m ($1.36m) cash investment, the startup offers a range of alternative products containing only natural ingredients wrapped in biodegradable materials.
The company said it is now asking the UK government to place a levy on single-use plastic chewing packs, eliminate VAT for biodegradable alternatives in the space, and enforce labelling requirements for plastic content in gum products.
“We want to bring light to the fact that each day millions of people are unknowingly chewing on bits of plastic made from petrochemicals that can’t biodegrade or be recycled,” said Raviv at the launch of his campaign.
Milliways said it has submitted responses to the UK government’s ongoing consultation on commonly littered single-use plastic items, ahead of what is likely to be a ban on many such products such as cutlery and plates.
According to Milliways’ research:
• 75% of people are unaware there is plastic in chewing gum
• Often gum is made from plastic (often used to make carrier bags) resin and petroleum-derived paraffin wax
• Approximately 374 billion pieces of gum are made globally each year, leading to 560 million kg of chewing gum annually being disposed of
• 80-90% of gum is not disposed of properly - in fact, gum is the second most littered junk on earth
• It is estimated to cost more than £100 million of taxpayer funding each year to remove gum from the streets – using professional jet washing - given plastic doesn’t biodegrade
• Even this process is not a long-term solution as it breaks up the gum into microplastic which is washed away into the drainage system and then into our waterways, going back into our system
“Whether disposed of responsibly or not, the plastic element of the product means there can be no positive outcome for the environment. If disposed of in a bin, the plastic will either be incinerated or sent to landfill where it will remain and will not decompose,” Raviv said.