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Tawau Mill to Produce Paper from Oil Palm Bunches
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, 25 November 2008 -- The world’s first oil palm-based pulp and paper mill is expected to start operations in Tawau by the third quarter of 2009. Using technology researched by the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), the mill will produce pulp and paper from empty fruit bunches (oil palm bunches frpm which the fruits have been removed).

FRIM director-general Datuk Dr Abd Latif Mohmod said the mill would be capable of producing high quality A4 paper for export and local use. The paper would be produced by a private company. Abd Latif said it was an industry with a potential earnings of MYR 2 billion annually.

“It will not only allow us to save hardwood trees from being cut down for paper but also on foreign exchange as Malaysia imports a lot of its paper from overseas," Abd Latif said. “It is a perfect example of waste to wealth,” he said.

An estimated 1 metric ton of pulp can be produced from 5 metric tons of empty fruit bunches, and some 30 million metric tons of empty fruit bunches are generated annually.

FRIM forest products division senior director Mohd Nor Mohd Yusoff said the government had invested about MYR 35 million for the project that was supposed to have taken off in 2005. “There were some technical delays, but now everything has been sorted out. The factory will have all operations under one roof — from shredding the empty fruit bunches, pulping and producing paper,” he said.

Abd Latif said this particular project was one example of the potential available in commercializing FRIM’s research. He has invited stakeholders and clients to come to FRIM to learn about its research findings during a Technology Transfer Forum on 25 and 26 November. Visit http://www.frim.gov.my/ for further details on the forum.

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