Central Virginians to put out their recycling in Israeli plastic-substitute bins

Waste management authority pilots a program using UBQ Materials’ technology, which takes a wide variety of household waste and turns it into a bio-based thermoplastic

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

A cluster of bins made with the UBQ Material (Courtesy)
A cluster of bins made with the UBQ Material (Courtesy)

The waste management authority of Central Virginia has embarked upon a pilot program that offers consumers recycling bins made out of a plastic substitute technology developed by an Israeli startup.

The developer of the materials, UBQ Materials, has a patented technology that takes unsorted household waste — organic, paper and plastic, including banana peels, dirty diapers, used yogurt containers and cardboard — and converts it into a bio-based thermoplastic, or a plastic substitute, that can be integrated into existing manufacturing processes.

As part of the pilot program, the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority (CVWMA), is offering 2,000 recycling bins made of  UBQ Material. The bins were shipped from Israel and recently arrived in central Virginia.

The CVWMA, which has set up a partnership with the startup, is the first organization in the United States to use this solution, the authority said in a statement.

UBQ Materials has developed a technology that takes unsorted household waste –from banana peels to dirty diapers to used yogurt containers and cardboard — and converts it into a bio-based thermoplastic — a plastic substitute (Courtesy)

According to Quantis, a provider of environmental impact assessments, every ton of UBQ Material produced diverts up to 12 tons of CO2 equivalent, qualifying the technology as the most climate positive thermoplastic material on the planet, the statement said.

CVWMA provides waste management and recycling services for 13 local governments, including Richmond, Chesterfield, and Herico.

“UBQ is a world-changing technology that has the potential to change the face of so many industries,” said State Senator Tommy Norment in the statement

Founded in 2012 by Yehuda Pearl, founder of the hummus brand Sabra, and Tato Bigio, the CEO of UBQ, the startup breaks down waste to a nearly molecular level, combining its most basic organic components (lignin, cellulose, sugar, fibers) with plastic. The end result is a bio-based, climate positive composite material, the statement said. UBQ has been granted worldwide patents for its material and process.

UBQ Materials CEO and co-founder Tato Bigio (Courtesy)

“We’re hopeful that within a few years, every Virginian will be able to dispose of their recycling in a UBQ bin and many more products will be made out of this remarkable material,” said UBQ’s Bigio in the statement.

UBQ has raised $27 million to date in funding from private investors and US VC fund Battery Ventures, according to data compiled by Start-Up Nation Central, a nonprofit that tracks the industry.

“The relationship between UBQ and the CVWMA is a perfect example of the type of partnership we hope to create between Israel and Virginia,” said Dov Hoch, executive director of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board.

The CVWMA, set up in 1990, is a public service authority that implements solid waste management and recycling programs for 13 local governments.

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