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Title: Useful junk
Date: 01-Sep-2009
Category: Integrated Solid Waste Management
Source/Author:         CHOONG MEK ZHIN; The Star (www.thestar.com.my)
Description: SUPPORTING the green movement has never been more desirable when it comes to tableware, especially since the organic ones are indistinguishable from its melamine or plastic utensils and is cheaper by 10 to 15%.

SUPPORTING the green movement has never been more desirable when it comes to tableware, especially since the organic ones are indistinguishable from its melamine or plastic utensils and is cheaper by 10 to 15%.

From plates and bowls to flower pots and golf tees, SJ Bio-Tech Resources Sdn Bhd and its sister marketing company, collectively known as Smart Junk, pioneered the first ever local natural plant fibreware industry using locally sourced material.

“What people consider as waste, we have found a use for including rice husks, coconut shells, sawdust, wheat husk, starch and even cocoa shells which are the latest raw material we have discovered that we are able to use in our products,” company corporate adviser Dr Fam Seng Choy said.

Mastermind: (From left) Chow, Dr Fam and operation manager Goh Teck Lee with the plates manufactured using organic material

The company is stringent when it comes to raw material quality and source it directly, both to avoid raising the product price and ensuring only the right materials are used.

“For example, we only buy sawdust from upstream saw mills where freshly-cut logs are brought to.

“At this point, no chemical has come into contact with the wood as it is cut into uniform sizes and sent to downstream factories for further processing,” Fam said.

He added that chemical traces might be found in the raw material because of unavoidable circumstances such as fertilisers.

Versatile: Various products like combs, toothbrushes, cutlery, cups, plates and plastic bags are produced by Smart Junk using locally sourced organic waste.

The products are biodegradable and may raise concerns that it is flimsy, particularly since it is made entirely of organic material.

“The biodegradation process requires a few things including water, plenty of oxygen and most importantly, the decomposition bacteria,” Fam said, adding that even with all factors present the process took years to happen.

Having biodegradable products, according to Fam, means that the wares can be buried in gardens to allow decomposition that will fertilise the soil.

According to company director Chow Chee Keen, experimenting with various combinations of raw materials eventually led them to find the formula to make products tough enough for people to stand on and not break it, heat-resistant until 120°C and cold-resistant until -20°C.

“Everything from the formula to the machines were researched and developed locally with the help of two researchers from China since the company’s incorporation in 2006,” Chow said, adding that they were the only local supply agent of the machinery used.

Though the machines are imported, it has been tweaked according to Chow’s brainchild and the company has spent RM1.5mil to reach where it is today.

All here: The Smart Junk office in Pandan Indah has a display of its organic wares ranging from plates and bowls to flower pots and golf tees.

When they first started developing their wares, organic food colouring was added to give it a variety of colour.

“The public’s response was that they preferred the original colours and we stuck to those though the colour variants just happen to be a by-product of our experiments with the different composition of raw materials,” Chow said.

“We have obtained the halal certification for our products as well,” Chow said.

The process of making the wares does not produce sound, air, water or chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) pollution and is energy-efficient.

“There is no wastage. The wares are produced using pressure and heat and any excess material that is not used will be regrinded and reused,” company chief executive officer Lim Chin Chai said.

Response has been very good in the international scene regarding the products.

“At the SME Cross the Border exhibition organised by APEC in Hang Zhou, China, last year we received non-stop inquiries and a few requests to set up a factory there,” Fam said.

But they wanted to start out in Malaysia first and marketed their wares in places like Jusco and Sogo this year.

Though still running at a loss, the company hopes to be listed on the Bursa Saham in three to five years though not on the main board.

“We are also looking into a joint-venture with the Namibian Agriculture Ministry who expressed their request for a technology transfer when they approached us at the exhibition in China,” Fam said.

He added that businessmen from Britain, Singapore and Australia have also approached them in the hope of becoming the exclusive agent for their products in their respective countries.



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