KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 (Bernama) -- Oil palm biomass-based furniture can gofar but their full potential will only be realised in about five years asa result of constraints now being faced by the industry, a seminar was oldtoday.
Making these kinds of furniture is still at an infancy but Manfredd Ng,managing director of Isotop Corporation Sdn Bhd, which has ventured intomaking them, said they share similiarities with rubber-based furniture.
"It takes time to grow," he said of the endeavours into making suchfurniture as he shared his thoughts with Bernama after attending a seminaron oil palm biomass here.
"If we look back 20 years ago, the rubber wood-based furniture industryalso experienced the same plight. I think oil palm biomass furniture haspotential if you have the right research into the right area."
Ng cited the higher processing cost of oil palm biomass as one of theconstraints because additional additives like more adhesive glue have tobe added.
Glue is needed to bind the biomass wood chips from the processed oil palmfronds. This often pushes the cost to as high as one and a half times whencompared with rubber wood.
"Oil palm biomass also needs more treatment as opposed to rubber wood," hesaid."The cost will be reduced until more research is done to make a lowercost glue."
Muar-based Isotop started making oil palm biomass furniture in 1993. Ituses oil palm fronds as raw materials for its furniture.
"We use fronds as there is a lot of supply as they are being pruned everyday. Fronds are also free from impurities such as stones," Ng disclosed.
Oil palm biomass furniture currently contribute less than 10 percent ofthe company's revenue. They are also exported to the United Kingdom andWest Asian countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Earlier in his presentation on "Furniture material from oil palm biomass:A case study on ISOTOP moulded products", Ng said that considering thethat some 1.8 million ha were devoted to rubberwood plantantions, the 3.1million ha under oil palm are an obvious choice for the biomass.
As such, he said clear objectives, policies and strategies to encouragethe use of oil palm biomass as an alternative raw material for thefurniture industry are sorely needed.
"The challenge now is to educate the marketplace about new products andtheir benefits," he said.
Ng said the government should also encourage the use of products made fromoil palm biomass among government ministries and agencies.
"This would help develop a strong demand for products from oil palmbiomass domestically," he said.
Promotional efforts are also needed from the Malaysian Timber Council(MTC) and Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade)atinternational trade exhibitions.
To offset higher manufacturing costs, Ng said incentives should also begiven to composite panel and moulded furniture producers.