McDonald’s restaurants in Brazil are serving up orders on new trays manufactured with a composite thermoplastic material made by Israeli company UBQ Materials from household trash.

This is the first product to come out of a partnership announced in 2019 between Israeli company UBQ and Arcos Dorados Holdings, the largest independent McDonald’s franchise in the world with over 2,200 restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean.

UBQ breaks down unsorted household waste into its basic natural components (lignin, cellulose, sugar, fiber) and creates a new composite through a process that does not use water or emit harmful fumes. The thermoplastic material can be made into things like bricks, shopping carts, pipes, trash cans and automotive parts.

UBQ Chief Executive Officer Tato (Jack) Bigio. Photo by Kfir Ziv

Arcos Dorados launched a plastics reduction program in 2018. Since then, over 1,300 tons of single-use plastic have been removed from the restaurants.

In this first phase, 7,200 serving trays made with UBQ thermoplastic were introduced in 30 McDonald’s restaurants in 20 Brazilian state capitals, replacing old plastic trays.

Using UBQ in the production of the new trays has already diverted over 1,200 kilos (2,645 pounds) of waste from being sent to landfills.

The initiative will be gradually extended to all McDonald’s restaurants throughout the country, with 11,000 additional trays already in production at Brazilian company Semaza.

Altogether, the 18,200 trays represent an estimated reduction of 3,713 kilos (8,185 pounds) of greenhouse gases reaching the atmosphere.

“UBQ has the potential to revolutionize the way we view waste, transforming it from a liability into a valuable resource for manufacturing,” said Albert Douer, executive chairman of UBQ Materials.

The company recently won the “Mature Stage” track of Start-Up Nation Central and Environmental Sustainability Innovation Lab’s environmental technology startup competition.