TRANSFORMED: Gumdrop uses old gum to make new products.

Gross globs of used gum often end up on the sidewalk—or worse, stuck to your shoe. Now a designer in England is giving this chewed-up candy a second life by recycling it into new products.

Gum is made of an edible type of rubber that gets soft and stretchy when it warms up in your mouth. This physical change got Anna Bullus thinking: What if she could heat up pieces of old gum, squash them together, and mold them into something new?

Bullus’s first prototype was a small, round bin where people could deposit chewed gum. But her preliminary model wasn’t sturdy enough. She made the bin stronger by mixing other substances, such as recycled plastic, with used gum.

Today, her company, Gumdrop, uses recycled gum to make everything from rulers to rain boots. “If you can persevere, there’s a solution for everything,” says Bullus.