Israeli startup UBQ Materials recently completed a mega $170 million funding round, led by TPG Rise. The round also saw participation from Battery Ventures and M&G Catalyst. The company develops a pretty unique technology that transforms basic household waste into an alternative type of plastic.
Turning organic trash into useful material
You don’t have to be a genius to realize that our daily waste is destroying the only planet we call home. No matter your recycling efforts, it’s probably still not enough, and moreover, most of the waste we create can’t be recycled, leading it to be buried in massive landfills, which destroy natural habitats and can even leak into the water we use. That’s why UBQ Materials developed the UBQ eco-friendly thermo-plastic material, which is made from your leftover takeout, various plastics, cardboard, paper, and yes even dirty diapers.
The plastic material can then be implemented in construction projects, vehicle production, 3D printers, and a variety of other uses. The Israeli startup has already developed ties with major manufacturers, such as Mainetti, Mercedes Benz, Keter Plastic, and the largest McDonald's franchise in Latin America.
How does it work, you ask? Jack Bigio, CEO and co-founder of UBQ, explains that the process starts by receiving your trash at the company’s plant, which is located in the Israeli desert. According to Bigio, the company also has plans to launch a new site in The Netherlands soon. Once received, the waste goes through a process to separate the metals and minerals from the trash, which are sent to initial recycling. Bigio says that household waste is made up of nearly 90% organic material and just 10% plastic, so the company uses a chemical reaction process to decompose organic material into its most basic elements: “Lignin, cellulose, fiber and sugars, which are rearranged in a thermoplastic matrix. The plastic components are melted and absorbed into the matrix, creating the new material, a composite material called UBQ.
Based on what Bigio says, the production of just 1 ton of UBQ material prevents the release of 11.7 tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Bigio further adds that according to research done on the Israeli company’s product, the UBQ material was found to be “the thermoplastic material with the lowest carbon footprint on the market today”.
UBQ Materials was founded in 2012 by Yehuda Pearl (founder of everyones favorite supermarket Hummus Sabra, which was acquired by PepsiCo and Strauss Group in 2007) and Jack (Tato) Bigio (former CEO of investment firm - Ampai), and Eran Lev, the company’s current legal advisor. The company plans to use the newly funded capital to expand internationally, as well as support the new Dutch factory, which should be up and running in a year from now. According to the company, the Israeli site will continue to provide commercial operations, in addition to serving as the startup’s R&D center, aiming to find the next eco-friendly material to help save our planet.