Startup Repurposes Unsorted Household-Waste Into New Products

UBQ‘s new method makes it easier to turn trash into treasures.

Mar 1, 2020

Today's modern supermarkets are chock filled with a large assortment of frozen, canned and bottled products that make shopping for meals so easy. So, If you want to make yourself a tuna sandwich for lunch, you buy tuna in a can, mayo in a plastic or glass jar with a paper label, and bread that comes wrapped in plastic. Then, you can enjoy a delicious and tasty meal.

Afterwards, it's time to sort your waste for recycling. You can clean the tuna can but what do you do with the mayo jar or the bread bag? Labels have to be removed from jars to be recycled and there is no spot for the low-quality plastic bag. These items either go out in the usual garbage or are put in recycling bins which can cause the lot to be rejected. Until now. An Israeli startup UBQ Materials has found a way to recycle and repurpose unsorted household waste.

UBQ was founded in 2012 and the office is located in WeWork in Tel Aviv; the plant is  located on Kibbutz Tze’elim in the Negev Desert. The startup uses a patented process that can turn garbage that was destined for landfills into something useful, a new composite "climate positive" material (UBQTM) that can be repurposed into thousands of products.

The company said that through a proprietary process, they can take mixed stream waste like jars with labels, food waste, disposable diapers, cardboard, and more and convert into UBQTM. The composite, according to Haaretz, includes cellulose from foods and woods so it can be recycled numerous times.

The company's process can even handle junked electronics. The electronics get crushed with the rest of the trash and the heavy metals are removed with the other metals by using magnets and metal detectors. Then the materials are shredded, melted together, dried and chopped into pellets. Dyes can be added during the process so that manufacturers can get a variety of colored material.

The end result is thermoplastic pellets that looks like plastic, acts like plastic, and can be used by manufacturers to make plastic-like products including recycling bins and plastic car parts.And the new products can be recycled too.

The pilot industrial plant in the Negev has a capacity of 5,000 tons per year according to the company.

While the process is carbon negative, co-founder and CEO Jack Bigio told Haaretz that greenhouse gasses are emitted through transportation of the trash to the conversion plant, and from the power used to operate the plants. But, producing one ton of the UBQTM pellets actually reduces emissions by 15 tons.

While the company is not profitable yet, they are already expanding overseas as well as expanding their line. The company said that sustainability and environmental impact is providing the missing link to a circular economy.

Expanding this concept globally could play a big role in the race to save our planet. Reducing landfill waste and carbon emissions by turning trash into treasures, makes UBQ a company to watch.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.