Mexico City: A
biodegradable, non-stick gum that won't sully sidewalks and trash
cans made of "natural plastic" were some of the products on
display at the just-concluded 2012 Green Solutions Forum, held in
the Mexican capital to seek ways of combating climate change.
"Traditional chewing gum (varieties) are petroleum-derived
polymers. You throw them on the sidewalk and they stick," Gerardo
Ramirez, representative of Consorcio Chiclero, a group comprising
dozens of cooperatives that extract gum from the Mexican
rainforest, told EFE.
Biodegradable gum, by contrast, "gradually disintegrates" under
identical environmental conditions, he said.
Consorcio Chiclero was one of more than 100 organizations that
took part in the forum, where public- and private-sector firms,
experts and academics showcased their initiatives to combat
climate change and promote economic development.
Only 2 percent of the chewing gum currently consumed worldwide is
of natural origin, Ramirez said, noting that most varieties, in
addition to being a potential eyesore in cities, contribute to an
increase in the carbon footprint and greater dependence on
"It's important to return to natural consumption," said the head
of Consorcio Chiclero, the coordinating body for around 50
cooperatives and chewing gum harvesters whose raw material is
extracted from the chicozapote tree, which grows abundantly in the
tropical forests of the southeastern Mexican states of Quintana
Roo and Campeche.
He said harvesting the gum causes no environmental damage and
noted that the consortium - made up of 2,000 independent gum
harvesters whose ancestors were "conscientious guardians of the
forest" - also carries out reforestation projects.
Although 70 percent of Consorcio Chiclero's production is sold as
raw material and just 20 percent is used to make the Chicza brand
chewing gum, that product is currently being exported to more than
15 countries and the ultimate goal is to dedicate all production
to that end.
Another product showcased at the green forum was a garbage can
made of sugarcane, an eco-friendly product whose manufacture
reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 85 percent, said Renaud
Miniaou, the Plastic Omnium firm's commercial manager for northern
"Instead of a making a petroleum based (product), we plant
sugarcane in Brazil, transform it into ethanol, later into polymer
and then into plant-based polyethylene that is injected into the
molds used for traditional trash cans," he said.
Demand has exceeded expectations since the product was first
marketed in late 2011, according to Miniaou, who said the
material's technical characteristics are identical to fossil-based
plastic but it does not contain petroleum, is renewable and is
"The challenge was to make a product identical to what we
traditionally had and eventually the research team pulled it off,
since this product has the same technical and physical
characteristics as our other containers," he said.
The forum, which ended Wednesday, also was a showcase for academic
projects such as eco-friendly bricks and tiles presented by a
group of students from the Carlos Carrillo high school in the Gulf
coast city of Veracruz.
Using mud and recycled paper, those students developed a new
construction material designed to meet the needs of low-income
"The advantage of eco-friendly tiles and bricks is that normally
there are places where there's not enough money to buy flooring,
the people live on dirt floors and so we thought of a way to save
paper and help these economies," 18-year-old project advisor
Silvia Eugenia Lugo said.
Distinguished attendees at this year's forum, which was focused on
sustainable urbanism and green financing, included Mexico's Mario
Molina, a co-recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for
his work in atmospheric chemistry, "particularly concerning the
formation and decomposition of ozone"; and Thomas Kerr of the
World Economic Forum.