Malaysia’s Symphony Advance Sdn Bhd (SASB) has begun discussions with Sirim and Mardi to conduct research and development on kenaf polymer. Subject to the results of the R&D, SASB plans to establish a production facility in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER), possibly in Terengganu. Operations are expected to start as soon as the supply of kenaf is stabilized. Kenaf is a fast growing plant that can be processed into natural fibre composites used for car interiors, building boards and even athletic wheelchairs.
SASB currently exports kenaf powder to Japan and Korea. Its operations started in February by milling kenaf at the National Tobacco Board’s facility. It recently started a 0.5 ha Collection, Processing and Marketing Centre (CPMC) in Beris Lalang at a cost of RM1 million. SASB plans to export kenaf composite material to its business partners in industrialised countries. Global demand is forecast to grow exponentially, especially in composite materials, because kenaf is an environmentally friendly industrial plant and organic material recognised by the Kyoto Protocol to mitigate global warming. When kenaf is used in composite materials, companies can enjoy special tax incentives when it is exported to the European Union and the USA.
North American demand for both wood and agricultural fibre used as plastic additives, is forecast to be in the range of 15-20% pa in automotive applications, to 50% pa in selected building products. The market for these composites is projected to nearly triple in size during the next decade, and will increase demand for the nearly US$100 mln (RM321 mln) additives segment of this market.