1000 Solutions — October 03, 2019
UBQ, turning trash into bio-based thermoplastic
A solution to reduce waste.
Every year, the world generates over 2 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste, mainly composed of food (44%), paper and cardboard (17%), plastic (12%), glass or metal… And that figure is expected to rise to 3.40 billion tonnes by 2050, according to the World Bank.
This colossal figure has huge impacts on the environment, as waste in low income countries mainly ends up in landfills, polluting air, land and water, and contributing to climate change, due to food waste decomposition in landfills. It is estimated that “1.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent greenhouse gas emissions were generated from solid waste treatment and disposal in 2016, or 5 percent of global emissions”.
Poor waste management is also an economic nonsense, as most of the trash disposed in open landfills could be reused and thus create value, profit, and jobs. Giving a new life to waste is precisely the mission of Israeli startup UBQ. This solution has invented a new patented process to convert household waste into a sustainable, fully recyclable thermoplastic material.
UBQ’s proprietary process deconstructs waste - made of banana peels, diapers, vegetables, dirty packaging, or cardboards - to a molecular level and then reconstitutes it into a composite material, a plastic-like pellet, known as bio-based thermoplastic. These pellets can be integrated into the production process of plastic factories and used as a substitute to oil-based plastics.
By keeping waste out of landfills, for every ton of UBQTM material used, up to 15tons of CO2 equivalent is saved, qualifying it as “the most climate positive material in the market” according to Quantis, a leading provider of environmental impact assessments.
UBQ has one factory running in Kibbutz Tze’elim in southern Israel, which converts approximately 7000 tonnes of garbage every year. In August 2019, the Tel Aviv-based company announced it would supply 2000 recycling bins made with UBQ Materials’ converted waste material to the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority (CVWMA), and is looking to expand in the US, EU and Asia.