Virginia debuts partnership to turn MSW into plastic substitute

Virginia debuts partnership to turn MSW into plastic substitute

The Central Virginia Waste Management Authority will work with Israeli-based UBQ Materials, a company launched by Sabra hummus founder.

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The Central Virginia Waste Management Authority (CVWMA) recently announced it has launched a partnership with UBQ Materials, an Israeli-based company that has developed a patented process to convert unsorted household waste into a plastic substitute that can be made into everyday goods. CVWMA says it is the first organization in the U.S. to leverage this solution.

As part of the pilot program, CVWMA is offering 2,000 recycling bins made with UBQ Material, a proprietary composite of unsorted organic, paper and plastic waste made up of everything from banana peels and dirty diapers to used yogurt containers and cardboard. The bins recently arrived in Central Virginia after being shipped from Israel. 

According to Quantis, a provider of environmental impact assessments with U.S. headquarters in Boston, every ton of UBQ material produced diverts up to 12 tons of CO2 equivalent. CVWMA says in a news release that Quantis has qualified the product as the most climate-positive thermoplastic material on the planet. 

 
 

CVWMA provides waste management and recycling services for 1.5 million customers across thirteen local governments, including Richmond, Chesterfield and Herico. 

“Virginia has long been proud to welcome some of the most innovative companies that provide new opportunities for our commonwealth,” says Virginia State Senator Tommy Norment. “UBQ is a world-changing technology that has the potential to change the face of so many industries. I’m proud to see Virginia at the forefront of this solution and cannot wait to see what comes next.” 

UBQ Materials was founded in 2012 by Rabbi Yehuda Pearl—also the founder of the hummus brand Sabra—and renewable energy leader Tato Bigio. The company takes unsorted household waste, which CVWMA says consists of roughly 80 percent organic material and 20 percent plastic, and converts it into a bio-based thermoplastic that can be integrated into existing manufacturing processes. The company breaks down this waste to a nearly molecular level, combining its most basic organic components (lignin, cellulose, sugar and fibers) together with plastic. The end result, called UBQ Material, is a bio-based, climate-positive composite material. UBQ has been granted worldwide patents for its material and process. 

“I want to express my gratitude to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the generosity of spirit, with which I have always been welcomed here. Virginia has been an amazing place to grow and innovate because of the spirit of its people,” Pearl says. “We continue to be grateful to Kim Hynes of the CWMA, and to the Virginia Israel Advisory Board, which helped us to make our first commercial sale of waste bins in the United States. I am sure that this partnership will lead to great opportunities for UBQ and our partners, just as I am sure that it will help create a better future and a cleaner world.” 

“As a company, we dream of a world in which waste is never truly wasted, and are so pleased that Virginians and the CVWMA share our vision,” Bigio says. “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.”