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How RGE Plans to Spend $200M on Next-Gen Fiber Development

Singapore materials manufacturer Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) said it plans to invest $200 million over the next 10 years in cellulosic fiber research and development.

The company said the investment will support solutions in alternative cellulose or plant-based feedstock and closed-loop manufacturing. The target allocation for the investment is in three areas–70 percent allocated to scaling up proven clean technology in fiber manufacturing, 20 percent to bring pilot-scale production to commercial scale, and 10 percent to foster research and development in emerging solutions.

“This is a strategic business growth area for RGE,” Bey Soo Khiang, vice chairman of the company, said. “Our integrated portfolio of companies across pulp, fiber and yarn production puts us in a unique upstream position in the textile value chain to realize commercial scale and affordable solutions that support downstream manufacturers and brands.”

Through its business groups Sateri in China and Asia Pacific Rayon (APR) in Indonesia, RGE is one of the world’s largest viscose producers with a total annual production capacity at 1.4 million tons. Sateri and APR source wood-based dissolving pulp from sustainably managed renewable plantations in Indonesia and Brazil through RGE-managed companies.

Ben Poon, deputy head of APR, said, “This commitment responds to two pressing environmental challenges facing the textile industry: increase in demand for both synthetic and natural fibers for textile production and increase in textile waste. Recycled textile waste as a feedstock tackles both issues simultaneously.”

The company noted that through partnerships with innovators and in-house research and development, several initiatives are already underway. In August, RGE invested in Finnish start-up Infinited Fiber Company to scale up its technology. A 500-ton pre-commercial plant in Finland and customer training center will be ready by early 2020.

In May, a memorandum of understanding was signed with Re:newcell for technical cooperation and trials on production of viscose using recycled cotton, with the aim of industrial scale production by 2025. In addition, RGE’s in-house R&D teams are conducting research on alternative cellulosic feedstock, such as agricultural waste and recycled cotton, as well as closed-loop manufacturing for viscose production.

RGE Pte Ltd. manages a group of resource-based manufacturing companies with global operations. The assets held by RGE companies exceed $20 billion. With more than 60,000 employees, the company has operations in Indonesia, China, Brazil, Spain and Canada.