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Malaysian recycler expands, wins SPE tech award

March 5, 2014

HO CHI MINH CITY — Malaysian recycling company Heng Hiap Industries Sdn Bhd is investing several million U.S. dollars in a new plastics facility that will at least double its capacity and allow the company to meet what it says is increased demand for its specialized grades of recycled resins.

The Johor, Malaysia-based company plans to move into a new 10,000-square-meter facility later this year, to meet what it says is growing demand among manufacturers to both cut their costs and reduce their carbon footprint.

In an unrelated development, Heng Hiap was also named the winner Feb. 21 of the 2014 “Chairman’s Award” from the Environmental Division of the U.S. trade group the Society of Plastics Engineers.

SPE said it was recognizing the company’s work developing technology to make recycled plastic with improved properties like anti-bacterial performance, faster cycle times or better electrical conductivity. The company will receive the award at SPE’s annual Global Plastics Environmental Conference on March 14 in Orlando, Fla.

The company said the new factory, also in Johor, will consolidate several smaller facilities.

“Customers are looking for more high performance, special performance, in their products,” said managing director Seah Kian Hoe, in an interview at the company’s booth at the Plastics & Rubber Vietnam 2014 show, held March 4-6 in Ho Chi Minh City.

Seah said the move will “at least double” its existing capacity of producing up to 1,200 metric tons of the recycled resin per month, although he declined to be more specific about the size of the investment or how many extrusion lines it plans to add. The company said it currently has four extrusion lines.

The company currently handles at least 4,000 metric tons per month of scrap plastic, mostly polypropylene, but it does not convert all of that into its “Smart Plastics” brand of recycled resin pellets.

The new investment will let it turn more of the scrap plastic into the higher-value “smart” material, he said.

Seah said demand is increasing both because manufacturers want to lower their costs, and because companies want to be able to lower their carbon footprint or claim a green advantage by reusing waste materials. But he said the material has to compete economically.

“The first is there must be an economic justification,” he said. “The value proposition must be there. The second part of that is the whole package must be a solution, to the market, to the product, to the R&D.

“The carbon footprint, the green economy, that is an added advantage, because over the period of time consumers are more aligned toward that. So it does help, but on the foundation that the first two must be met.”

Heng Hiap, founded in 2002, is a broad-based recycling company that includes operations in metals and paper recycling. The privately held firm has about 250 employees, with about 110 employees in its plastics division. Seah said the company's annual sales for all its recycling operations are about US$100 million.