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People worldwide produce more than 2 billion tons of garbage every year. UBQ Materials wants to transform as much of that as possible into its eponymous “bio-based” thermoplastic, which co-founder and CEO Jack Bigio calls a “new natural resource.” The company’s system sorts, shreds and then melts trash down into fibers, cellulose, and sugars for conversion into small pellets that can be used to make new products. To help shrink their carbon footprints, companies such as Nestle, Mercedes-Benz, McDonald’s, and PepsiCo integrate UBQ into products, packaging or building materials. UBQ’s first industrial-scale facility is set to open in January in the Netherlands, where it plans to divert 104,600 metric tons of trash from landfills annually.

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