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Be Careful with Wishes

Be Careful with Wishes

By Greg Kozera–

COVID hit close to home last week. We learned our 28-year-old grandson contracted it. He lives out of state and we haven’t seen him since the pandemic started. We communicate via phone and text. Even though he works from home, somehow, he picked up the virus. Fatigue along with the loss of taste and smell were his main symptoms. I talked to him by phone today. He sounded good and is feeling stronger. Taste and smell have returned. Lynnda and I are relieved he is improving. But COVID isn’t going quietly. He said he feels like he is in a fog sometimes and is having trouble stringing thoughts together. This is getting better but no one knows how long it will last.

Our pastor was busy this week with four funerals. That has never happened. Not all were COVID related. It is still sad. A good friend of mine just lost his mother to COVID. Even though cases and deaths are declining the disease is still among us. We need to continue taking precautions. I think of it like sky diving or driving a car. We may never have had an accident but we still need to take all of the necessary precautions. It only takes one mistake to have a serious accident. Lynnda and I believe getting vaccinated is worth the risk. We are scheduled to get our second shot next week.

West Virginia is doing a great job getting shots in arms. They just need more doses of vaccine. It has been a challenge for manufacturers to get the vaccine out to the states for distribution. Much more is involved than just making vaccine. Support equipment and a delivery network is needed. Special tamper proof caps are required for each vile of vaccine. Syringes and needles are needed to inject the vaccine into people’s arms. Tamper proof caps and syringes are made out of plastic. When Lynnda and I checked in to get our shot everyone had electronic pads for registration. They also had gowns, masks, face shields and gloves for their protection and ours. These all require petrochemicals from natural gas and oil wells. The drugs my grandson was given to fight COVID were also petrochemical products.

Injection molders in the USA have added workers and capacity. People are working overtime to produce critical products. One billion devices are needed in the next 12 months. That means making 2000 devices per minute. Over 600 million devices will be required for COVID vaccinations in the USA alone. This doesn’t count syringes required for diabetics and routine flu, tetanus and other shots. Fortunately, we have the feed stock to make polyethylene and polypropylene pellets here in the USA and the manufacturing technology to turn these pellets into critical products without depending on overseas suppliers.

With the change in Washington, we are starting to hear rumblings of new pushes to ban or restrict plastics. Shale Crescent USA is working with companies who have new technology to turn plastic waste back into pellets reducing waste and the demand for virgin resources. The “anti-plastic” people should be careful what they wish for. If they get their wish to eliminate fossil fuels, plastics and the essential products made from them like syringes and PPE for healthcare workers it is like signing death certificates for millions of people. Having a wife who is a nurse and grandson with COVID this is personal.

It is essential for the US to control the supply chain of these critical health care products to save lives. Where there are people, there is waste. Everything we do creates waste. The waste we generate is growing at an alarming rate. Two billion tons of municipal solid waste are produced annually, responsible for +8% of global GHG emissions. This number is expected to double by 2050. There are solutions. Shale Crescent USA is working with companies who can come to our region and create jobs by turning waste into feedstock.

One of those companies is UBQ Materials, a growing cleantech company who posed the question “Why waste, waste?” Founded in 2012, UBQ Materials developed an advanced conversion technology that transforms household waste into a bio-based thermoplastic with some of the most climate positive metrics on the market. (Like a negative carbon footprint) UBQ™ can substitute wood, minerals and conventional plastics to offset the carbon footprint of thousands of everyday products.

Unlike traditional recycling, where waste material streams require separation, UBQ Materials uses the entire, unsorted household waste stream. Everything from food waste and mixed plastics, to cardboard, paper and even dirty diapers are converted into UBQ™. The powerful sustainability additive is priced competitive to virgin resins and is compatible with 80% of plastics on the market and can be used as a drop-in material in injection, compression molding, extrusion and 3D printing.

Their novel UBQ™ material has gained attention from leading brands. Partnerships to-date include Mercedes-Benz, retail solutions supplier Mainetti and McDonald’s, who has launched serving trays made with UBQ™ in restaurants across Brazil.

UBQ headquarters in Israel, but is quickly scaling up with global expansion. The company aims to establish waste conversion facilities around the globe, further localizing the closed loop in the waste to manufacturing cycle. Derek Schaefer, VP of Business Development at UBQ Materials says “I live, work and play in the Shale Crescent region and have a personal interest in implementing zero waste, circular solutions at a local level.”

In 2017 when Shale Crescent USA attended its first major conference to tell our region’s story, we were already decades behind the Gulf Coast and China in manufacturing. Many products like PPE and solar panels can be made here more efficiently, creating good jobs with a lower carbon footprint than anywhere in the world. I challenge the anti-plastic-fossil fuels crowd, academia and government to give up negative wishes and become part of a positive dream. We are better together. We can’t wait another 30 years.

© 2021 Shale Crescent USA

Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert and the author of four books and numerous published articles.