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January 21, 2020 11:08 am

Israel’s Trash Could Be Mercedes’ Treasure

avatar by Udi Etsion / CTech

Plastic trash. Photo: Circe Denyer.

CTech – Mercedes parent company Daimler is planning a pilot to test whether an ecological plastic alternative manufactured in Israel could be used in its vehicles, according to Israel-based cleantech startup UBQ-Zeelim.

UBQ, founded in 2014 and based in Tze’elim, a kibbutz in southern Israel, developed a process to recycle residual municipal solid waste such as food waste, soiled cardboard or paper, and mixed plastics usually destined for landfills into a plastic-like raw material. UBQ’s process is capable of taking material considered unrecyclable today, such as dirty diapers, and breaking it down to its basic natural components before reconstituting it into a new composite material, according to company statements.

On its website, the company states the closed-loop process produces no residual waste and emissions, and consumes no water, while also being energy efficient. Currently, UBQ is capable of manufacturing 5,000 tonnes of material a year in its pilot facility, but the company stated its technology can be adapted according to the specific composition, volume, or origin of the residual municipal solid waste.

“Daimler will be purchasing the raw material from us, and testing it in the manufacturing of parts for both the passenger cabin and the outer plastic parts used in vehicles,” co-founder and CEO Tato (Jack) Bigio told Calcalist in an interview. “Currently we are manufacturing only in Israel, but we are preparing to open facilities in the US and Europe that could service the automotive industry.”

Like other automakers, Daimler is attempting to limit its use of plastic in order to reduce its carbon footprint. The European Union demands that 75% of a vehicle’s weight will be made up of recyclable materials.

UBQ’s raw material is already being used for a wide variety of products, including pipes, trash cans, and shopping carts. The company recently signed an agreement with Arcos Dorados Holdings, the biggest McDonald’s franchise in the world, to incorporate its products in the chain’s restaurants in South and Central America.

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