Auto giant Daimler to test pioneering Israeli waste-to-plastic solution
The thermoplastic designed by UBQ, based in Kibbutz Tze’elim, was named last year as "the most climate-positive material on the planet."
By EYTAN HALON
Automotive giant Daimler AG is testing an innovative thermoplastic material developed by Israeli clean technology company UBQ Materials in the production of automobile parts, the companies said on Tuesday.Daimler is the first automotive company to partner with UBQ, the developer of a patented process to convert household waste into a renewable thermoplastic material for commercial and industrial products, replacing petroleum-based plastics.The thermoplastic designed by UBQ, based in Tze’elim, 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.Daimler, the owner of Mercedes-Benz, is currently evaluating the incorporation of the thermoplastic for a range of automobile parts, with UBQ stating that initial results have been positive. Daimler is also promoting the use of UBQ’s material among partnering logistics manufacturers to boost carbon footprint offsetting throughout its supply chain.“Daimler is one of the leading car manufacturers in the world and they are well-known for their advanced technologies,” UBQ co-founder and CEO Tato Bigio told The Jerusalem Post.He said that the companies have been working together for some time in order to ensure that the thermoplastic material complies with stringent automotive industry regulations.“Considering UBQ within the scope of the new cars that they are developing for the future is an enormous step. When we are depleting our natural resources, Daimler is thinking about the future of humanity,” said Bigio.The partnership was facilitated through the Stuttgart-based start-up Autobahn innovation platform, operated by Plug and Play, which connects emerging technologies to pilot opportunities with multinational corporations, including Daimler and other leading automotive manufacturers.To produce the thermoplastic material, UBQ breaks down waste into their most basic natural components – lignin, cellulose, sugar, fiber – and produces a new composite material through a closed loop, energy efficient process. “Everything you throw into a waste bin is being sent to landfill. The material that nobody wants is being converted into a useful material that can replace the very plastic that we all know, made from oil,” said Bigio.The company’s advisory board includes Nobel Prize winner Prof. Roger Kornberg, celebrated nanotechnology specialist Prof. Oded Shoseyov, leading patent practitioner Dr. Ilan Cohen, sustainability pioneer John Elkington, and former EU commissioner for climate action Connie Hedegaard.In November 2019, UBQ announced a partnership with Arcos Dorados – the largest independent McDonald’s franchisee worldwide – to incorporate its sustainable material in items across its Latin America stores. UBQ has also partnered with the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority (CVWMA) to roll out 2,000 recycling bins made out of the company’s material in the region.UBQ’s southern Israel test plant, already supplying UBQ to the plastic industry, has a total production capacity of 5,000 tons per year. The company is now planning to establish a full-scale industrial facility in the United States later this year.