Meaningful Business (MB:) Please tell us a bit about your background.
Tato Bigio (TB): Originally from Peru, I built a career in finance and managed a publicly traded company on NASDAQ. I then founded and led Merhav Renewable Energies, a company focused on solar energy, wind energy and bioethanol, before co-founding UBQ Materials.
MB: What Led you to start UBQ Materials?
TB: I came to the realisation that waste is an untapped, virtually unlimited resource, and wanted to approach the challenge of how to unlock that value in a scalable way. Coming from an entrepreneurial background and being involved in clean energy projects gave me the appetite to come up with more novel clean technologies.
MB: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
TB: Humans discard approximately 2 billion tonnes of waste every year, a number that keeps growing annually. Aside from depleting our natural resources, this waste – when buried in landfills – is responsible for +5% of global GHG emissions. UBQ was founded with a mission of answering the question, “what if there was a way to put all this waste to good use?”
UBQ’s mission is to provide a sustainable, scalable solution for manufacturers – enabling them to be on the right side of history. In diverting landfill-destined waste and converting it into a climate positive material, UBQ prevents methane emissions and conserves finite resources for future generations. The UBQ™ material has been designated as, “The Most Climate-Positive Thermoplastic Material on the Market.” Substituting plastics, concrete, minerals and wood with UBQ™ can offset and even reverse the climate footprint of final products, ultimately creating a world in which waste is no longer wasted – a true circular economy.
MB: What is your biggest challenge right now?
TB: Expanding UBQ’s facilities and operations worldwide. The technology and the market demand are there, with 400 billion tonnes of conventional plastics being produced annually – but the real challenge is scaling up quickly enough. We see this as UBQ’s core goal, knowing that the more UBQ facilities we establish around the world, the more waste can be diverted from local landfills, offsetting harmful emissions and transforming everyday waste into a useful material.
MB: What is your vision for the future of your business?
TB: We believe we can become a new standard material in plastics manufacturing, providing sustainable, waste-made materials for the manufacturing industry.
MB: What is your advice to other leaders who want to combine profit and purpose?
TB: “El secreto está en las ganas” – the secret is in how much you want it. You need to desire what you’re doing and feel in your bones that you will make it happen, no matter what. This is the exact feeling I’ve had, deep in my bones, since the day we started UBQ Materials.
MB – What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
TB – A teacher at my school once said to me, “You might not know it yet – but you’re a leader. You lead by example. You don’t have a choice but to be the best, because people will look at what you do and follow. You have a responsibility to be good.”
MB – Who inspires you?
TB – My parents have inspired me to be open-minded, communicative and value-oriented. They were both active leaders in our community, and my mother always pushed us forward, supporting me as I worked to achieve any goal.
MB – How do you define success?
TB – Doing good for others – that’s my definition of success.
MB – What is something you wish you were better at?
TB – Everything! There is always room for improvement and I am actively trying to better myself in every aspect of my life every day.
MB – What is the one book everyone should read?
TB – “Demian” by Herman Hesse
MB – What do you do to relax?
TB – Diving, sailing, watching the sunset – anything that connects me to the ocean.
Discover the other MB100 leaders recognised for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2020, here.