Title:
CHEWING GUM DISPOSAL SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is directed to a chewing gum disposal system and method. The chewing gum disposal system includes a plurality of chewing gum disposal envelopes configured to receive one or more pieces of chewing gum, and a chewing gum disposal container. The disposal container has a holding compartment configured to hold the chewing gum disposal envelopes, and a disposal compartment configured to receive one or more chewing gum disposal envelopes having pieces of chewing gum therein. In disposing of a piece of chewing gum, an envelope is removed from the holding compartment, the piece of chewing gum is placed inside the envelope, and the envelope is inserted into the disposal compartment. The chewing gum disposal system and method provide an efficient, sanitary and pleasant method for the disposal of chewing gum that is suitable for public spaces including restaurants, bars, buses, movie theaters, ballparks, stores, malls, and other areas.



Inventors:
Craig, Rebeca (Arlington, MA, US)
Jarvis, Zachary G. (Arlington, MA, US)
Application Number:
12/131739
Publication Date:
12/03/2009
Filing Date:
06/02/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D73/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NEWAY, BLAINE GIRMA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ascentage Patent Law, LLC (Cary, NC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A chewing gum disposal system comprising: a plurality of chewing gum disposal envelopes configured to receive one or more pieces of chewing gum; and a chewing gum disposal container comprising: a holding compartment configured to hold the plurality of the chewing gum disposal envelopes; and a disposal compartment configured to receive one or more chewing gum disposal envelopes having the pieces of chewing gum placed therein.

2. The chewing gum disposal system of claim 1 wherein the holding compartment and disposal compartment are adjacent one another.

3. The chewing gum disposal system of claim 1 wherein the holding compartment comprises an open compartment configured to hold a horizontally stacked array of chewing gum disposal envelopes in an upright position.

4. The chewing gum disposal system of claim 1 wherein the disposal compartment comprises a closed compartment having at least one slot formed therein configured to receive the chewing gum disposal envelopes.

5. The chewing gum disposal system of claim 4 wherein the slot is located on a sidewall of the disposal compartment and is configured to receive chewing gum envelopes inserted horizontally thereinto.

6. The chewing gum disposal system of claim 4 wherein the disposal compartment further comprises a bottom outlet configured to pass the chewing gum envelopes therethrough for removal of chewing gum envelopes from the disposal compartment.

7. The chewing gum disposal system of claim 1 wherein the chewing gum disposal envelopes are transitional between an open configuration for receiving a piece of chewing gum and a closed configuration for retaining the piece of chewing gum received therein.

8. The chewing gum disposal system of claim 7 wherein the chewing gum disposal envelopes are transitional between the open and closed configurations by pinching opposing edges of each envelope together.

9. The chewing gum disposal system of claim 7 wherein each chewing gum disposal envelope comprises a folded sheet member having side edges that are secured to one another to define a pocket therebetween for receiving one or more pieces of chewing gum.

10. The chewing gum disposal system of claim 1 wherein one or more of the chewing gum disposal envelopes and chewing gum disposal container have printed thereon at least one of a graphic and/or decorative design, instructions for use, advertising content and other printed content.

11. A method of disposing of chewing gum with the chewing gum disposal system of claim 1, the method comprising; (a) removing a chewing gum disposal envelope from the holding compartment of the chewing gum disposal container; (b) placing a piece of chewing gum inside the chewing gum disposal envelope; and (c) inserting the chewing gum disposal envelope into the disposal compartment of the chewing gum disposal container.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein step (b) comprises opening the chewing gum disposal envelope, placing the piece of chewing gum inside the opened envelope, and closing the chewing gum disposal envelope.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein step (b) comprises opening the chewing gum disposal envelope by pinching opposing edges of the envelope together.

14. The method of claim 13 wherein step (b) comprises expelling the gum into the chewing gum envelope substantially without contacting the gum by hand.

15. The method of claim 11 wherein step (c) comprises horizontally inserting the chewing gum disposal envelope into a slot located on a sidewall of the disposal compartment.

16. The method of claim 11 wherein steps (a)-(c) are performed in at least one of a restaurant, bar and other eating or drinking establishment.

17. The method of claim 11 wherein steps (a)-(c) are performed in at least one of a ballpark, movie theater, park, shopping mall, store, museum, amusement park, gym, club, bus, train, plane and boat.

18. The method of claim 11 further comprising step (d), emptying one or more envelopes containing pieces of chewing gum therein from the disposal compartment of the chewing gum disposal container.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT RE: FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH/DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

The present invention relates generally to the disposal of chewing gum, and especially to chewing gum disposal systems and methods that are suitable for public areas.

2. Related Art

Chewing gum is a popular confection made of a gum base and typically including various natural and artificial sweeteners and flavoring agents. The popularity of chewing gum is due at least in part to its ability to be chewed by a person for substantial periods of time without losing its pleasant resiliency, thereby imparting entertainment and even stress relief to the chewer. Chewing gum has also been promoted as being capable of improving dental health, and can also be used as a medium for the delivery of beneficial nutritional and/or pharmaceutical agents. Formulations of chewing gum having sugar substitutes are increasing popular as sweet but sugar-free alternatives to otherwise sugary and unhealthy snack foods.

However, a problem with chewing gum is that it is typically not suitable for swallowing or digesting, and thus chewed pieces or wads of gum require disposal in a suitable disposal receptacle. This can be particularly problematic in situations where such disposal receptacles are not readily available. For example, in a restaurant environment, a seated patron often does not have ready access to a disposal receptacle without having to either leave their seat or request help from a restaurant server. Restaurant managers find that many patrons choose instead to improperly dispose of their chewing gum where they are seated, such as within a restaurant napkin or other table linen, or even by sticking the gum to seating surfaces, such as under the restaurant table. Not only are such situations inconvenient and even embarrassing for the restaurant patrons, but the removal of improperly disposed gum from table linens and other surfaces can also be significantly costly and time consuming for the restaurant. The improper disposal of gum is also highly undesirable for sanitary reasons, especially in environments where food is being served. Similar situations can arise in other public areas such as movie theaters, ballparks, etc, where convenient access to a disposal receptacle may not be readily available to patrons.

Accordingly, there remains a need for chewing gum disposal systems and methods that are efficient, convenient and pleasant to promote proper and sanitary disposal of chewing gum. There is especially a need for convenient and discrete disposal systems and methods in areas frequented by the public, such as in restaurants, where convenient access to a disposal receptacle may not otherwise be available.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention specifically addresses and alleviates the above-identified deficiencies in the art. In this regard, in one version the present invention is directed to a chewing gum disposal system having a plurality of chewing gum disposal envelopes configured to receive one or more pieces of chewing gum and a chewing gum disposal container. The chewing gum disposal container has a holding compartment configured to hold a plurality of the chewing gum disposal envelopes, and a disposal compartment configured to receive one or more chewing gum disposal envelopes having the pieces of chewing gum placed therein.

In one version, a method of disposing of chewing gum with the chewing gum disposal system of claim 1 includes the steps of removing a chewing gum disposal envelope from the holding compartment of the chewing gum disposal container, placing a piece of chewing gum inside the chewing gum disposal envelope, and inserting the chewing gum disposal envelope into the disposal compartment of the chewing gum disposal container. The chewing gum disposal system and method provide a pleasant and convenient means for the proper and sanitary disposal of chewing gum.

The present invention is best understood by reference to the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These as well as other features of the present invention will become more apparent upon reference to the drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a schematic top view of one version of a chewing gum disposal system having a plurality of chewing gum envelopes and a chewing gum disposal container;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of one version of a gum disposal envelope;

FIG. 3 is a schematic front view of the chewing gum disposal system shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a schematic top view of a version of a chewing gum disposal envelope in a closed configuration;

FIG. 5 is a schematic top view of the chewing gum disposal envelope of FIG. 4 in an open configuration;

FIG. 6 is a schematic side view of the chewing gum disposal envelope of FIGS. 4-5 receiving a piece of gum from a user;

FIG. 7 is a schematic top view of the chewing gum disposal envelope of FIGS. 4-6 depicting the piece of gum received therein; and

FIG. 8 is a schematic side view of a version of a gum disposal compartment depicting the insertion of a gum disposal envelope into the side of the disposal compartment, and the opening of a bottom outlet for emptying the disposal compartment.

Common reference numerals are used throughout the drawings and detailed description to indicate like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The detailed description set forth below is intended as a description of the presently preferred embodiment of the invention, and is not intended to represent the only form in which the present invention may be constructed or utilized. The description sets forth the functions and sequences of steps for constructing and operating the invention. It is to be understood, however, that the same or equivalent functions and sequences may be accomplished by different embodiments and that they are also intended to be encompassed within the scope of the invention.

A chewing gum disposal system 10 and method have been discovered that allow for the convenient, sanitary and pleasant disposal of chewing gum even in situations where conventional disposal receptacles might not otherwise be available. FIG. 1 shows one version of the chewing gum disposal system 10 according to the invention, in which the system 10 comprises a plurality of chewing gum disposal envelopes 12 and a chewing gum disposal container 14. The chewing gum disposal envelopes are generally configured to receive one or more pieces of chewing gum 16. The chewing gum disposal container 14 comprises a holding compartment 18 configured to hole the plurality of chewing gum disposal envelopes 12, and a disposal compartment 20 configured to receive one or more chewing gum envelopes 12 that have had pieces of chewing gum 16 placed therein. The chewing gum disposal system 10 thus provides an efficient and sanitary means for the disposal of chewing gum that is suitable for areas frequented by members of the public such as restaurants, bars, other eating or drinking establishments, ballparks, movie theaters, parks, shopping malls, stores, museums, amusement parks, gyms, clubs, buses, trains, planes, boats and other transportation, as well as other suitable areas.

Versions of chewing gum envelopes 12 suitable for the practice of invention are described in further detail with reference to FIGS. 1-2 and 4-7. As can be seen from these figures, the chewing gum envelopes 12 comprise a general envelope-type shape that is sized shaped and configured to receive a piece of chewing gum 16 therein. Preferably, the envelopes 12 are configured to securely hold the piece of gum 16 therein substantially without allowing the piece of gum to slip out of the envelope 12, and substantially without contaminating the hands or fingers of a person seeking to dispose of a piece of gum 16 therein. In one version, the chewing gum envelopes 12 can comprise a configuration that is transitional between an open configuration for receiving a piece of gum 16 therein, and a closed configuration for retaining and securing the piece of gum 16 placed therein. Envelopes 12 that are transitional between the open and closed configurations allow for easy use of the envelopes for disposal of gum pieces. Examples of gum envelopes 12 in an open configuration are shown in FIGS. 5-6, whereas FIGS. 1-2 and 4 depict envelopes 12 in a closed or only partially open configuration.

In the versions as shown, the envelopes 12 comprise a folded sheet member 32 having side edges 22, 24 that are secured to one another to define a pocket 30 therebetween for receiving one or more pieces of chewing gum. Alternatively, the envelopes 12 can comprise separate front and back sheet members 22, 24 that are attached to one another along the bottom edge 26 as well as along the side edges 28a, 28b of the envelopes 12, or other suitable configuration. Additionally, the envelope opening 34 defined by the top edges 36a, 36b may be reinforced with added material to facilitate ready opening and closing of the gum disposal envelope 12. While the envelopes 12 as shown comprise a generally rectangular shape, the envelopes 12 can also comprise other decorative and/or functional shapes. The envelopes 12 can also be made out of materials that provide the desired functionality while also being aesthetically appealing to look at or to touch, such as for example at least one of printed, textured and/or graphic papers, cardboard, fiberboard, plastics, textiles and/or cloth materials such as velvet, denim, felt, and other materials, as well as combinations thereof. Those of ordinary skill in the art will also comprehend that suitable envelopes 12 are not limited to only those specifically described herein, and other suitable configurations and/or manufacture of the envelopes 12 other than those specifically described can also be devised for the disposal of chewing gum with the chewing gum disposal system of the instant invention.

FIGS. 4-7 show an example of a method and configuration whereby the envelopes 12 can be transitioned between the closed and opened configurations to receive and dispose of a piece of chewing gum 16. In FIG. 4, an empty gum disposal envelope 12 is grasped between the thumb and forefingers of a person along the edges 28a, 28b of the envelope 12. Pinching the edges 28a, 28b of the envelope together between the thumb and forefinger forces the top edges 36a, 36b of the envelope 12 apart to open the envelope 12 and expose the interior envelope pocket 30, as shown in FIG. 5. A piece of gum 16 can be directly placed into the opened envelope 12 by bringing the envelope close to the person's mouth and expelling the gum from the person's mouth into the envelope 12, as shown in FIG. 6. This direct method provides a highly sanitary means of disposing of the piece of gum 16 that does not involve contacting the gum with the person's hands or other object. Alternatively, other methods of placing the piece of gum 16 in the opened envelope 12 may be used. FIG. 7 shows the opened envelope 12 having the expelled piece of gum 16 held in the pocket 30 therein. Releasing pressure on the edges 28a, 28b of the envelope 12 returns the envelope 12 to the closed configuration shown in FIG. 4, and securely retains the piece of gum 16 therein. Thus, the transitionable envelopes 12 provide for efficient and sanitary disposal of chewing gum pieces. It can be furthermore understood from this example that the envelopes are desirably configured and formed from materials that are sufficiently flexible to allow opening of the envelopes upon application of pressure to (i.e. pinching of) the envelope edges 28a, 28b, while also remaining sufficiently rigid and/or resilient such that the envelopes 12 substantially return to the closed configuration upon release of the pressure applied thereto.

While it is envisioned that the envelopes 12 can be used to receive a chewed or at least partially chewed gum piece, such as a chewed wad of gum, it is also envisioned that items other than chewed gum could also be received in the envelopes 12. For example, the envelopes 12 could be used for the disposal of unwanted or inedible food items such as fruit pits or stems, or other chewable items. Thus, while the operation of the gum disposal system 10 is being described herein in relation to the disposal of gum, it should be understood that the system 10 is not limited to gum disposal and instead could be used for the disposal of other substances.

The chewing gum disposal container 14 is capable of holding and storing fresh chewing gum disposal envelopes 12 via the holding compartment 18, as well as providing a place for the disposal of used envelopes 20, via the disposal compartment 20. The chewing gum disposal container 14 thus serves the dual purpose of both supplying and providing for the disposal of the chewing gum envelopes 12. In the version shown in FIGS. 1-2, the holding compartment 18 and disposal compartment 20 are adjacent to one another and share a single sidewall 40 with one another. However, it should be understood that other configurations could also be used, such as vertical or other spatial arrangements of the holding and disposal compartments 18, 20.

In one version, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, the holding compartment 18 comprises an open compartment that is configured to hold a horizontally stacked array 38 of chewing gum disposal envelopes 12 in an upright position. The holding compartment 18 portion of the container 14 can therefore be understood to function similarly to conventional sugar/sweetener trays used in restaurants, in that the open configuration allows for easy removal of the envelopes 12 from the holding compartment, as well as ready replenishment of the holding compartment 18 with fresh envelopes 12. The holding compartment 18 as shown comprises a bottom wall 42, shared sidewall 40, and remaining side walls 44 that define an open tray-like configuration suitable for receiving and supporting the envelopes 23 therein. Alternatively, the holding compartment 18 can be lidded or otherwise covered to protect the envelopes 12 being held therein. Also, the envelopes 12 may be stacked or arranged in configurations other than that specifically shown, such as by vertically stacking the envelopes 12 on top of each other.

The version of the disposal compartment 20 shown in FIGS. 1 and 3 comprises a closed configuration to provide for proper disposal of the chewing gum disposal envelopes 12. The disposal compartment 20 comprises a bottom wall 46, shared sidewall 40 and remaining sidewalls 48 as well as a top wall 50 that together define an interior disposal volume 52 of the disposal compartment. The bottom walls 42, 44 and sidewalls 44, 48 of the holding and disposal compartments 18, 20 together form the bottom and sidewalls, respectively, of the overall disposal container 14. The disposal compartment 20 is sized shaped and configured to receive chewing gum disposal envelopes 12, and even to store a plurality of disposed envelopes 12 therein. For example, the disposal compartment 20 may be configured such that the interior disposal volume 52 allows for vertical stacking of the envelopes 12 on top of each other within the volume 52.

In the version shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, the disposal compartment 20 comprises at least one slot 54 formed therein that is configured to receive the used chewing gum envelopes 12. For example, the disposal compartment 20 may comprise a horizontally oriented slot 54 formed in a sidewall 48 of the disposal compartment 20 that is configured to receive chewing gum envelopes 12 inserted horizontally thereinto, as depicted for example in FIGS. 3 and 8. The slot 54 configured to receive the envelopes 12 may also and/or alternatively be placed in the top wall 50 of the disposal compartment 20 and/or the compartment 20 may comprise a plurality of slots 54 formed therein, such as horizontally oriented slots 54 disposed on opposing sides of the compartment sidewalls 48.

The disposal compartment 20 can also comprise an aperture or other means for emptying the envelopes 12 that have been disposed of therein from the compartment 20. In the version shown in FIG. 8, an aperture 56 is formed in the bottom wall 46 of the disposal compartment, and is covered by a door or flap 58 that can be flipped open to access the contents of the disposal compartment 20 for emptying. Alternatively, the aperture 56 may be accessed via a slideable bottom or side wall portion (not shown), or other access means. While it may be preferable to form the aperture 56 in a bottom wall 46 of the disposal compartment 20 to discourage tampering with the envelopes disposed of therein, in some versions it may be suitable to form the aperture 56 in the top wall 50 or to provide the top wall 50 as a portion of a compartment lid. The enclosure of the chewing gum in the disposal envelopes 12 is advantageous in that it renders the gum readily removable from the disposal compartment 20 substantially without sticking or adhering of the gum to surfaces in the disposal compartment 20.

The chewing gum disposal system 10 thus provides a convenient, compact and sanitary means for the disposal of chewing gum. In particular, the chewing gum disposal system 10 can be used in any situation and/or environment where efficient disposal of chewing gum or other items is desired. For example, the chewing gum disposal system 10 can be placed on tables in restaurants and bars to provide a discrete means for disposing of a patron's gum prior to eating and/or drinking. The disposal system 10 could also be mounted onto conventional restaurant table menu displays, sugar trays and/or condiment racks The disposal system 10 can also be mounted to seats at movie theaters, ballparks, in buses, and in other locations, to provide for the convenient disposal of chewing gum. It should furthermore be appreciated that the disposal system 10 can be provided in a form that is lightweight and transportable, and thus can be readily deployed to locations where proper gum disposal is needed, or moved between such locations. Also, one or more of the envelopes 12 and container 14 can be modified to render the system 10 more aesthetically pleasing or to convey advertising or instructional information. For example, one or more of the disposal envelopes 12 and chewing gum disposal container 13 can have printed thereon at least one of a graphic and/or decorative design, instructions for use of the disposal system 10, advertising content and other printed content.

In one version, a method of operation of the chewing gum disposal system 10 by a person seeking to dispose of a piece of chewing gum 16 comprises removes a chewing gum disposal envelope 12 from the holding compartment 18 of the chewing gum disposal container 14, and placing the piece of chewing gum 16 inside the thus-removed envelope 12. For example, the gum may be placed inside the envelope 12 by following the steps depicted in FIGS. 4-7 of opening the envelope 12 by pinching together the envelope edges, expelling the piece of chewing gum 16 into the opened envelope 12, and allowing the envelope to close by releasing the edges. The chewing gum disposal envelope 12 comprising the piece of gum 16 therein is inserted into the disposal compartment 20 of the chewing gum disposal container 14. For example, as depicted in FIGS. 3 and 8, the chewing gum disposal envelope 12 may be horizontally inserted into a slot 54 located on a sidewall 48 of the disposal compartment 20. Operation of the disposal system 10 may also comprise the further step of emptying one or more envelopes containing pieces of chewing gum therein from the disposal compartment 20, such as via the aperture 56.

Additional modifications and improvements of the present invention may also be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. Thus, the particular combination of components and steps described and illustrated herein is intended to represent only certain embodiments of the present invention, and is not intended to serve as limitations of alternative devices and methods within the spirit and scope of the invention. Along these lines, it should be understood that the holding and disposal compartment shapes may take any of a variety of forms that may be known or later developed in the art, and further contemplates that existing or newly formed envelopes 12, such as newly formed envelopes 12 suitable for use with the disposal system 10, should fall within the scope of the present invention. Also, it should be understood that the disposal system 10 including the container 14 and envelopes 12 can comprise various different materials such as other decorative or functional materials that are other than those specifically described.