Project to transform rice straw to biodegradable products

The Rice Straw Project under the Bioeconomy Community Development Programme (BCDP) is expected to bring in RM7 million annually and enhance growth of high-value biodegradable products in Malaysia, while promoting the country’s environmental sustainability and advancement of green technology.

The project is overseen by Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corp (Bioeconomy Corp) and involves a 10-year agreement signed between BioNexus status company — Free The Seed Sdn Bhd — and Pertubuhan Peladang Kawasan Pendang Selatan (PPKPS) in Kedah.

In a statement yesterday, Bioeconomy Corp said the farmers from PPKPS would supply 57,000 tonnes of rice straw from their 12 estates to Free The Seed, who would process them using its patented enzyme technology to produce biodegradable packaging products with an estimated worth of over RM7 million annually for local and export markets, including the Netherlands, Germany and the UK.

Kedah state executive council member Datuk Norsabrina Mohd Noor said she was proud Kedah could lead such an innovative initiative that transformed raw materials to high-value eco-friendly products while preserving the environment.

“The Rice Straw Project is in line with the aspirations of the government in optimising the use of existing agricultural waste resources to produce value-added products.

“This is an important step in Kedah’s agriculture sector because the process in the whole value chain is environmentally friendly and prevents air pollution due to open air burning. This is a significant achievement in our efforts to transform waste to wealth to drive the economy, besides developing the farming community, especially in Kedah,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau said Free The Seed’s enzyme technology, which was patented by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, allowed the company to produce about 60 million units of packaging products a year.

Free The Seed has also received numerous local and international recognition for its biodegradable products, including Winner of Waste to Wealth Award under the Global Greentech Innovation Programme, as well as the Eco-Labelling criteria SIRIM ECO 009: 2016. With this label, consumers are assured of safety and product reliability with national and international standards.

“With the use of this technology, Free The Seed is able to transform paddy residues into various forms of highly demanded packaging products for the food industry, hospital use and packaging of manufactured goods. This innovation is a good example of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) discovery that can be applied into the industry, subsequently generating income and jobs.

The project also underlines the contribution of rural communities to Malaysia’s economic growth through STI, especially in terms of supply of raw materials and agriculture,” he said. — Bernama