Recognising the immense importance and potential of sustainable development in Malaysia’s timber-related industries, the Malaysian Wood Moulding & Joinery Council (MWMJC) has been at the forefront of initiating changes to make these industries more sustainable. This not only improves their image in the eyes of NGOs and regional/global markets, but also ensures the long-term viability of Malaysia’s timber and timber-related products.
According to George Yap, Chairman of the MWMJC, the next 5-10 years will see Malaysia’s timber industry grapple with issues surrounding the ready availability of raw material, especially with regard to timber from tropical areas.
“Tropical forests are perceived as very precious carbon sinks that help mitigate against climate change. Therefore, where possible, people want to retain every square foot of forested tropical land. This is a fact we have to accept; this will be the future, and we have to be part of the solution to support this and make it happen.”
George notes that the timber ecosystem as a whole must consider its survival strategy and beyond that, improve itself without harvesting significant amounts of forested land. “Timber value creation and the widespread implementation of industrial tree plantations (ITPs) have to be in place. In Malaysia, particularly in Peninsular Malaysia, we are a little late to the party in this regard. This is something that we need to address in these 5 to 10 years.”
“We must invest our effort and interest to look into these matters. We have to become professionals that understand how Malaysia’s climate and soil condition affect ITPs, and what species to plant, how to plant, and where to plant. We also need to understand what the harvested commercial potential is, because that is what motivates the people who invest the money to plant; hence, we have to be doing our research and due diligence. That’s why MWMJC is taking the lead on many ITP-related studies.”
The need to compete in the global marketplace given the limitations on cheap raw material supply requires timber industry players to compete on the basis of stability and quality. “However, this means that we will be directly competing with those other countries that have the same idea. Hence, over the next few years, I foresee that we will need to compete also on the basis of technology and innovation. How technology and innovation can impact the timber industry is a topic I believe is very worthwhile for our industry members to work together on and discuss.”
Technologies related to IR4.0 (Fourth Industrial Revolution) can help improve productivity, reduce restage and energy consumption, and even open up new distribution and sales channels via the Internet.
MWMJC envisions itself as being part of the solution to these issues and challenges, which entails deeper involvement and understanding into these issues. “At present, MWMJC is spearheading a Smart Factory pilot project to launch a lightweight, reliable, cost-effective and easy-to-use system for the timber industry that is able to automatically capture production and machine data for performance monitoring and analysis.”
MWMJC also acts as a bridge for the industry to communicate with NGOs such WWF Malaysia. “We want to learn from them how to fit industry and nature together into a win-win situation as far as timber is concerned. People who are knowledgeable about timber understand that timber products are made from very renewable and recyclable raw materials, and can easily form a major part of the circular economy in Malaysia.
The concern over climate change and the adoption of the circular economy are part of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles that many developed countries, especially those in the European Union, are adopting, and ESG guidelines on imported materials are already being imposed on exporting nations. MWMJC is at the forefront of mainstreaming these guidelines, helping to make its members aware of ESG considerations and facilitating them with regulatory compliance.
For more information on MWMJC and how membership can benefit businesses in Malaysia’s downstream timber as well as building and construction industries, visit its website at https://www.mwmjc.my/ or call the Secretariat at +603 9283 7893.