True Gum is a small company that started in 2017 which makes chewing gum that is plastic-free, biodegradable, vegan and made in Denmark’. As the only ‘sustainable’ option of chewing gum on the German drug store shelf, the Danish company doesn’t have much competition. True gum is very mission driven with the main goal of reducing plastic pollution and being 100% biodegradable for product and package. Their ingredient list looks excellent to me. Yes, there could be more information on their supply chain and there is room for improvement on making their cardboard package from recycled paper. However, when compared to its competition at the drug store and considering that it only costs €2, it is an amazing product.
True Gum lays out and explain their main ingredients on their webpage.
1. Chicle gum base: it extracted from the sap of the sapodilla ** trees, which grow in Latin America. The ingredient is natural and biodegradable.
1. Sweetener: they use two low-calorie plant sweeteners: xylitol which is derived from birch trees from Finnland and steviol-glycosides which is made from the stevia plant
2. Flavour: True Gum claims to only use natural ingredients for flavouring such as putting in fresh ginger - the ingredient list simply lists natural flavours, such as ginger root
3. Moisturising agent: instead of palm oil, True gum uses the glycerine rapseed oil
So why are those ingredients better than normal gum?
Usually, chewing gum is based on plastic, which is why they stay on the street floors for eternity (probably also the reason they are banned in Singapore). The usual gum contain the artificial sweetener aspartame and BHA which is a synthetic antioxidant, shown to have a hormone-disturbing effect. They often also keep moisture with palm oil, which is bad for the agriculture. True gum is Palm Oil free and only made of natural ingredients that can are biodegradable.
The fact that it is natural and biodegradable and does not contribute to the plastic pollution also means that True Gum does not release micro-plastics when chewing it. This is great news as the health consequences of all the microplastics in our bodies are yet to be determined.
The chicle is the sap that is extracted from sapodilla ** trees ( a gum tree). True gum states that the this “harvesting technique that has been practiced for centuries in native jungle societies”. A chicle company, the A B Natural Base, say that the extraction system from the tree is a social and ecological activity in the jungles that does no harm to the trees. There is no information on how the sap is processed to become the gum that is supplied to the True Gum factory. However, compared to large scale companies and especially compared to chewing gum made on plastic, chicle seems to be processed very sustainably.
There is not much information on how most of the ingredients are harvested and processed, which is probably to be expected from such a smaller start-up company, but it would be interesting to find out about as the company grows.
The chewing gum is packaged into cardboard boxes which seems to be made out of fresh paper. Yes, it is great that it isn’t wrapped in plastic like the gum competitors. Yet, there is room for improvement to make it from recycled paper.
*True Gum Factory*
As True Gum is still a small company, they claim to have the “smallest and most artisan chewing gum factory in the world” in Copenhagen, Denmark where the ingredients are made into chewing gum and packaged. The factory runs completely on green energy from Danish windmill farms which is absolutely awesome to see.
Despite being a small company, I love to see that True Gum does not have any of their production outsourced to third parties as they want to be in control from start to finish.
There is surprisingly little information about the supply chain of the products. A German ethical store and a UK seller claims that the chicle supply comes from a farmer’s cooperatives who are all paid a fair price and supports the local communities. Whilst this might be true, it is unclear to me where this information came from as it is not to be found on the True Gum website or in other sources.
Upon contacting them, True Gum stated that they sourced their chicle from various partners. They also said that transparency is something they will talk more about in the upcoming month.
Overall, the supply chain is not very transparent. To understand if it is in fact as ethical as it looks, I would love to see True Gum to provide us with more information.