Fortune 500 CEO to scale Israeli waste-to-plastic solution globally

UBQ Materials' thermoplastic material made from unsorted household waste (photo credit: UBQ MATERIALS)
UBQ Materials' thermoplastic material made from unsorted household waste
(photo credit: UBQ MATERIALS)
UBQ Materials, the Israeli developer of a patented process to convert unsorted household waste into a thermoplastic material, has appointed a former Fortune 500 company CEO as its new chief executive.
Mike Thaman, the former CEO of building giant Owens Corning, has been appointed to scale the Kibbutz Tze’elim-based company globally, initially focusing on North America.
Thaman served as chief executive of Owens Corning for more than a decade, stepping down last year after growing the Ohio-headquartered company into a $7 billion revenue giant, employing 20,000 workers worldwide. Based in the United States, he will continue as CEO of the company until April.
“When I was exploring new opportunities after Owens Corning, I was looking for a chance to make a real impact, in both industry and on the health of our planet,” Thaman told The Jerusalem Post.
“UBQ is one of the few technologies that is clearly climate positive. By using almost all household trash as our feedstock, we eliminate many of the challenges associated with traditional recycling, like sorting and cleaning. The circular economy requires solutions that can work with the most challenging and unsorted waste streams. UBQ is exactly that solution.”
The thermoplastic created by UBQ, designed to replace petroleum-based plastics in commercial and industrial products, was named last year as “the most climate-positive material on the planet” by sustainability strategists Quantis International. Each ton of material produced by the company is said to equal the carbon-emission reduction of 540 trees.
To produce the material, UBQ breaks down waste into its most basic natural components – lignin, cellulose, sugar, fiber – and produces a new composite material through a closed-loop, energy-efficient process.

Unsorted household waste at UBQ Materials' Kibbutz Tze'elim headquarters (Credit: UBQ Materials)Unsorted household waste at UBQ Materials' Kibbutz Tze'elim headquarters (Credit: UBQ Materials)
Founded by serial entrepreneurs Yehuda Pearl and Tato Bigio, the company’s advisory board includes Nobel Prize winner Prof. Roger Kornberg and former EU commissioner for climate action Connie Hedegaard. Bigio, who has headed the company since its inception, will continue to serve as CEO of UBQ Israel.
“We envision a future for UBQ where our material is present in all of the most common plastic applications in the world today,” Thaman said.
“We have already demonstrated the technology across some of the highest-volume thermoplastics, as well as the most popular fabrication processes, and we are working with committed partners who are interested in scaling UBQ in new markets around the world,” he added.
In recent months, UBQ has announced a partnership with automotive giant Daimler AQ to test the innovative thermoplastic material in the production of automobile parts and with Arcos Dorados – the largest independent McDonald’s franchisee worldwide – to incorporate its sustainable material in items at its Latin America stores. The company has also partnered with the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority to roll out 2,000 recycling bins made out of the company’s material in the region.
“Mike’s decision to join our company and lead its expansion clearly demonstrates our ability to scale UBQ Materials,” said Pearl, who sold Sabra Hummus to PepsiCo in 2008. “We are sure that Mike’s proven track record and demonstrated character will be instrumental in enabling us to eventually have UBQ fulfill its mission to become ubiquitous as an alternative to plastic.”