When 20 years’ worth of gum on the famous Seattle gum wall is removed on Tuesday, where will it go? You might ask yourself a similar question when dealing with significantly smaller amounts of gum — say one piece. Does the gum belong in compost, garbage or somewhere else (like on a wall)?
The answer is the garbage, and that’s where all the gum-wall gum will go.
Although chewing gum is kind of a food, it isn’t compostable, said Karen Dawson of local composting facility Cedar Grove. “Gum does not break down, as evidenced by the fact that it has been on the wall for as long as it has,” she said.
Chewing gum has some sugars and coloring that can be digested, but at its base, it’s made of synthetic rubber which will stick around forever.
And what if you swallow your gum? Will it take seven years to digest as urban legend suggests? Nope. It will pass through you, probably in fewer than seven days.
So what will happen to the gum-wall gum? After it’s blasted away, the Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority will weigh it — because we want to know, right? — and then dispose of it with the rest of its garbage. The PDA says it will not make the world’s biggest ABC gum ball and roll it down the alley with public participation.
In the end, the gum will go to the landfill, the biggest gum wall of all.