Israeli firm says it can turn garbage into bio-based plastic

Worker holds bio-based thermoplastic composite made from substantially unsorted municipal solid waste material in the UBQ factory in Kibbutz Zeelim. Israeli start-up UBQ says its innovative method to convert garbage into plastics, five years in the making, will revolutionize waste management worldwide and make landfills obsolete.
(Ariel Schalit/Associated Press)

KIBBUTZ ZEELIM, Israel — Hawks, vultures, and storks circle overhead as Christopher Sveen points at the heap of refuse rotting in the desert heat. “This is the mine of the future,” he beams.

Sveen is chief sustainability officer at UBQ, an Israeli company that has patented a process to convert household trash, diverting waste from landfills into reusable bio-based plastic.

After five years of development, the company is bringing its operations online, with hopes of revolutionizing waste management and being a driver to make landfills obsolete. It remains to be seen, however, if the technology really works and is commercially viable.

UBQ operates a pilot plant and research facility on the edge of southern Israel’s Negev Desert, where it has developed its production line.

“We take something that is not only not useful, but that creates a lot of damage to our planet, and we’re able to turn it into the things we use every day,” said Albert Douer, UBQ’s executive chairman. He said UBQ’s material can be used as a substitute for conventional petrochemical plastics and wood, reducing oil consumption and deforestation.

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Image courtesy of Associated Press