Abdul Qyyum Mustaqem, Chief Executive Officer of Gaia Plas Berhad
How do you perceive the plastic industry’s effects on global warming?
Whilst the plastics industry has a negative reputation for its effect on climate change, it must be noted that developing technologies in manufacturing and processes have made many improvements in reducing the impact on the environment. Particularly, efficient processes have reduced emissions and waste as well as reducing the raw materials required to make the same amount of product.
It’s also worth noting that the manufacturing of plastic packaging produces less pollution compared to other materials, plus it can also be reused and eventually recycled.
Gaia Plas Berhad manufacturing factory in Telok Panglima Garang, Selangor, Malaysia
What is the outlook for the plastics packaging market in the future?
Globally, about 40% of plastics are used as packaging. Back home in Malaysia, our plastic packaging consumption is comparatively higher than all our Southeast Asian neighbours. In fact, the plastic packaging industry is on a steady growth.
This consumption is mainly driven by private households, small businesses, and other end users, such as schools, hospitals, and government buildings. The increased demand for packaged goods has accelerated the demand for high-density polyethylene (HDPE). It is also used in the packaging of many household and industrial chemicals, including detergents and bleach. Due to Covid-19, there is an increased consumption of cleaning products which in turn, leads to the increased demand for plastic packaging.
Additionally, construction activity has been increasing in Malaysia and is also expected to drive the country’s demand for plastics. During the Covid-19 government mandated lockdowns, the plastics industry is seen as a key supporting industry to essential sectors including E&E, medical supplies and F&B sectors. Also due to the lockdowns, there was a significant increase in food takeaways and packed food for home cooking which demanded an increase in cost-efficient, safe and versatile packaging.
How do you see Gaia Plas evolving as a player in the polymer industry?
We have a strong R&D team constantly working on improving the quality of our plastic manufacturing products. As a global citizen, we are passionate about playing a role in reducing carbon footprints in our manufacturing and consumption as well. The latest of our product development is our own formula of bioplastics that is eco-friendly. The intent here is to develop a product that meets industry standards but is yet easily biodegradable. Our packaging initiatives began with lightweighting, followed by the introduction of recycled content and the development of advanced biodegradable polymers.
Playing a role in reducing carbon footprints in our manufacturing and consumption
How have the latest technologies in manufacturing impacted the industry?
Industry revolution 4.0 application of data-collecting and automated technologies has led to a few key changes for the improvement of the plastic packaging industry. The key factors are horizontal integration to interlink different processes as well as different companies along the entire value chain, and vertical integration to connect individual part-systems of the production cells to form a single, holistically controllable production system. Inevitably, this also means the closer integration of supplier and customers.
In-line with these practices, we have and continue to monitor our manufacturing processes through the use of sensors and automated processes and the data collected have proven immensely important in improving our business. With performance metrics, we are able to strive for cost efficiencies in our production line though streamlining, eliminating redundancies and recognising issues before or as they arise.