UBQ Materials converts trash into treasure with patented process it hopes will be adopted worldwide.
An Israeli company has found a creative solution to the mounds of discarded single-use COVID-19 protection gear that is littering beaches, ocean floors and cities around the world.
Demonstrating how one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, UBQ Materials converts face masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) into an alternative form of recyclable plastic.
The company processes nearly 30 tons of garbage each week at its factory in the southern Israeli kibbutz of Ze’elim. Its innovative process can turn all types of household waste — everything from diapers, food, plastic bags and masks — into a durable and sustainable material that costs roughly the same as conventional polymers.
“This [mask] is unwoven plastic,” Jack (Tato) Bigio, co-founder and chief executive officer of UBQ Materials Israel, told The Media Line as he held up a standard surgical mask during a recent tour of the company’s plant.
“It is a material that you cannot recycle as is, and therefore, it will typically end up in landfills,” he added.
There are growing concerns among environmentalists about coronavirus-related single-use items and the threat they may pose to wildlife.
The Marine Conservation Society, a UK-based environmental group that organizes the annual Great British Beach Clean, recently reported finding discarded face masks and gloves on nearly 30% of the beaches. In addition, it found common PPE on the ground in 69% of inland litter clean-ups.