ASTANA (Kazakhstan) - Four hundred jobs are expected to be created when the world's first bio-based chemical manufacturing plant in Johor starts operations in 2019.
Bioeconomy Corporation senior vice-president (bio-industrial) Zainal Azman Abu Kassim said the Verde Palm Plant will use crude palm oil and palm by-products to produce diacid as an alternative to petroleum-derived chemicals.
Diacid is widely used to produce items such as automotive parts, toothbrush bristles, cosmetics and fragrances.
"This first-of-its-kind bio-based plant showcases Malaysia's readiness to become one of the leading bioeconomy nations.
"It is an important milestone for the country as bioeconomy plays a key role in Malaysia's aspirations to become a high-income developed nation by 2020," he said.
Zainal Azman, who was speaking at a press conference at the Astana Expo 2017, added that Malaysia aimed to have biotechnology contributing 5 per cent of its gross domestic product growth by 2020.
The Verde Palm Plant in Nusajaya, Johor, is a joint venture between Sime Darby Bhd and US company Verdezyne Inc based in Carlsbad, California.
The deal was sealed on April 24, 2014, during former US President Barack Obama's visit to Malaysia. The signing was witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Obama.
Zainal Azman said the groundbreaking ceremony for the plant will be on July 30 and construction will take between 18 and 24 months.
Astana Expo 2017 kicked off on June 10 with the participation of some 100 nations and more than 10 international organisations.
The theme of the 93-day expo is "Energy of the Future", which is aimed at addressing the global problem of energy consumption.
Week three of the expo, from June 26 to June 30, is a joint collaboration by the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, Bioeconomy Corporation, Yayasan Inovasi Malaysia and Sirim Bhd.