Science at it's finest!Feb 21, 8:32 am ET
BEIJING (Reuters) - China is developing a chemical weapon, under a project dubbed the "863 Program" by the Ministry of Science and Technology, for deployment in the war on a scourge that blights its public squares -- chewing gum.
Eight research institutions have applied for the one million yuan ($120,000) project to come up with a lotion over the next 18 months that will dissolve discarded chewing gum stuck to the ground, the China Daily reported on Friday.
The chewing gum waste dilemma had become a "big public sanitation headache," said Yu Xichun, director of the Science and Technology Office under the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association.
China, with its 1.3 billion people, chews some two billion pieces of gum per year, the newspaper quoted experts as saying.
Nearly 600,000 globules of gum were discarded by tourists in Beijing's Tiananmen Square during the seven-day National Day holiday last October, the newspaper said without elaborating on how that figure was compiled.
The cleanup cost an average of 1.1 yuan ($0.13) per piece.
The "863 Program" aimed to lower the removal cost to 0.2 yuan a blob while creating no new pollution, the newspaper said.