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McDonald's, Mercedes-Benz among many corporations making treasure from trash with revolutionary startup: 'Using it simply makes sense'

"UBQ … products are a real and available solution."

“UBQ … products are a real and available solution.”

Photo Credit: iStock

Your Happy Meals could soon be served on an ingenious plastic tray made from all kinds of trash

UBQ, developed in Israel, is a bioplastic already being used to make 7,200 serving trays in 30 McDonald's restaurants in Brazil, according to a press release from UBQ Materials.  

That's only a small sample of the potential UBQ has to help us reduce the nearly two billion tons of municipal waste that data collector Statista reports are produced each year. That garbage has filled our oceans, inland water sources, and roadsides. 

This solution starts with what's in our trash cans. Food residue, unsorted packages, and even mixed plastics are turned into bioplastic pellets that can be made into all sorts of products, according to UBQ. 

"Instead of dumping it to the landfill, we convert it into a new material," the narrator in a UBQ video states. 

In the clip, UBQ gives some details about the process, which includes breaking the garbage down to base components, including sugar, cellulose, and fiber. Those materials bind to form UBQ. 

The video doesn't give away all the tech secrets, but the company claims the process is "clean, energy efficient, and commercially viable." An aerial shot of the facility shows a roof filled with solar panels

UBQ is billed as being a building block for "thousands" of products. The clip depicts pipes, pallets, and — ironically — trash cans as some of the new items made with recycled waste in a "circular" process that replaces oil-based plastics

A big win is that the trash doesn't need to be sorted, as the entire household "waste stream" is utilized, according to UBQ. 

Pepsi and Mercedes are among other partners UBQ lists online. According to the automaker, the Mercedes EQE and EQS will be made with cable ducts formed with UBQ as part of a pilot series. 

South American McDonald's chain Arcos Dorados plans to increase the number of UBQ serving trays by 11,000 in Brazil. UBQ reported that customers likely won't notice the change, as the durability is on par with the previous food toters. 

"We … are fully committed to the environment and are doing everything possible to reduce the impact of our operation," Arcos sustainable development director Gabriel Serber said in a UBQ press release. "[W]e are proud to take this first step, supporting a technology that will transform the way society recycles its organic waste." 

The UBQ video says that 80% of the planet's trash is dumped into open landfills, and only 4% of that is recycled. Statista reported that overall waste recycling is under 20% worldwide, while up to 9% of particularly problematic plastic waste is recycled, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development stated.

Once in the landfill, the decomposing garbage contributes up to 11% of Earth's planet-warming methane output, Reuters reported.

UBQ's solution may be a remedy for the world's growing waste piles, which are at the tipping point. 

"UBQ … products are a real and available solution," the company clip states. "Using it simply makes sense." 

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