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KOBAYASHI expands into Asia with environment-friendly plastics solutions

Tokyo-headquartered KOBAYASHI boasts an extensive industry experience, beginning in 1952 as a wholesaler of plastics materials

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 April, 2016, 4:39pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 April, 2016, 9:54am

Country Business Reports interviews and articles by Discovery Reports

Positioning itself as a leader in green technology innovation, comprehensive plastics company KOBAYASHI is striving to reduce its reliance on petrochemicals. The company is primed for further expansion as Asia’s biodegradable plastics market displays robust growth due to increasing environmental awareness and the rising cost of fossil fuels.

“We are constantly developing new products based on renewable, alternative resources such as plant-based raw materials,” says president and CEO Tatsuo Kobayashi.

The company established a division in 2013 focusing on Reseam ST, a composite material made of 62 per cent cornstarch mixed with general-purpose resin. Used primarily in food packaging applications, Reseam ST exhibits the same level of performance as traditional oil-based plastics and is similarly priced. Carbon neutral, Reseam ST is certified by Japan Organics Recycling Association as a Biomass Mark product.

“Plastics and cornstarch typically don’t mix well, but we have the right skills and technological expertise to make the perfect formulation,” Kobayashi says. “We can also remove the natural odour of the cornstarch in our packaging solutions.”

Tokyo-headquartered KOBAYASHI boasts an extensive industry experience, beginning in 1952 as a wholesaler of plastics materials. It is a market leader in synthetic resin materials and plastics products of Japanese quality for food packaging and durable goods market such as semiconductors, automotive and electronics. To increase production capacity, the company invested 6 billion yen (HK$410.66 million) to build its Sendai factory, which will open this year.

“Being middle-sized enables us to respond quickly to customers’ requests and focus on QCD – quality, cost and delivery,” Kobayashi says.

The company has five other divisions specialising in diverse applications. Its KOBASOL division develops liquid compounds used in toys, vehicle parts, processors and industrial components. “We work closely with customers to create compounding designs that suit their specifications and applications,” Kobayashi says. The company operates a KOBASOL facility in Hong Kong to better serve its regional clientele.

For its packaging division, KOBAYASHI occupies a huge market share of packaging materials for highly perishable foods. Its innovative products include biodegradable packaging materials and moisture-resistant OPALAY sheeting, which improves food shelf life while retaining taste and quality.

The company’s distribution materials division handles packaging solutions for fresh food and prepared meals, and non-food items such as cosmetics and medical supplies. Consistent with its green initiatives, its composite paper and film product emits 70 to 80 per cent less carbon compared with petrochemical-based food packs.

KOBAYASHI’s industrial implements and materials division produces plastic sheeting, film and pellets for various industrial fields. It runs a production plant in Shanghai to serve the electronics and semiconductor industries in Asia, particularly Japanese, European and Western companies operating in China.

KOBAYASHI’s new business division reinforces its commitment towards creating environmentally sustainable products. In partnership with public research and development centre Industrial Technology Institute in Miyagi and Yamagata University, the company developed thermoplastic starch products such as pellets, sheets and moulded articles. KOBAYASHI also manufactures solar-cell module backsheets and flame-retardant sheets used in power plants.

Driven by Asia’s flourishing medical tourism industry, the company builds up its pharmaceutical segment. In Japan, it is set to launch antileak, an intravenous tubing device which prevents leakage of antineoplastic drugs. Patented in July last year, antileak protects health care workers from occupational exposure during handling and administration of hazardous anticancer medications.

KOBAYASHI is keen on transferring technology to overseas subsidiaries to enhance regional sales strategies. It also eyes increasing capacity of its Shanghai facility and setting up a production base in Southeast Asia. For its automotive segment, the company is strengthening ties with distributors in Thailand and is planning to establish a retail brand in Indonesia. “Our products demonstrate our commitment towards manufacturing to satisfy our customers and maintain steady progress,” Kobayashi says.