FOR local plastics recycler Winrigo, having enough space is essential.

The firm needs to stockpile large amounts of waste material.

This was why Winrigo jumped at the opportunity to set up a 24,000 sq ft manufacturing plant in the Iskandar development zone about five years back.

Operations director Teri Teo, 44, told The Straits Times last month that Iskandar's proximity to Singapore made it "the best candidate" for the company to expand operations in.

"We're dealing with scrap material, so it's important Iskandar has the space we need and is near enough for us to transport materials without spending too much time travelling," he said. "Commuting is easy, and we can go home in the evening to spend time with our families."

The green-tech firm is devoted to the development of its line of environmentally friendly plastics known as R3plas.

Mr Teo co-founded Winrigo in 2001 after spending more than 15 years in the plastics industry in production and sales - and realising he had been doing "too much damage to the environment".

Today, Winrigo's products range from eco-cutlery to food packaging to biodegradable plastic bags, which are supplied to companies, although he declined to disclose which ones.

Its technology has been certified by international agencies such as the United States-based Underwriters' Laboratories while garnering recognition locally via the Singapore Green Label and the Sustainable Manufacturing Label.

Setting up shop in Iskandar, however, was far from easy.

For a year, the plant, which Mr Teo had bought for about RM2.5 million (S$933,000) in 2010, could not be upgraded to fulfil additional orders Winrigo had begun receiving, severely impeding the company's growth.

The reason was the factory had come with standard-issue power supply, and upgrades for additional power had to be applied for separately - a process which took Winrigo, new to doing business in Malaysia, close to a year.

"As a young company, we just didn't have the experience and ended up paying a lot of 'tuition fees' to consultants," he said.

He added that the inability to increase the company's revenue - one of the main reasons it made the move to Iskandar - had been "the biggest headache".

But the problem was later resolved when Metro Wealth Holdings, with which Winrigo merged in February, stepped in to expedite the application process for the company.

Metro Wealth is a firm which collects scrap plastic material from around the world and re-processes it into electronic goods such as television sets.

It was founded in Malaysia, but its Malaysian division is now a subsidiary of its head office here.

Mr Teo said the merger had given Winrigo access to a greater production capacity, as well as to the "vast experience" in operating in Malaysia of Dr Ng Boon Hoo, chief executive of Metro Wealth.

The Singapore Manufacturing Federation had also helped Winrigo ease into the business landscape in Iskandar through its business missions, which allowed Mr Teo to visit possible factory sites and the industrial park in Iskandar before deciding to expand there.

Afterwards, it also arranged conferences with advisers, who assisted him in obtaining the necessary licences.

Mr Teo added that expanding into Iskandar is much easier for Singapore companies today, thanks in part to the construction of a new industrial park, the Nusajaya Tech Park, which is managed by Singapore business real estate firm Ascendas.

Besides creating consumer eco-products, Winrigo is setting its sights on manufacturing plastic filaments for 3D printing.

Mr Teo felt that the benefits of expanding into Iskandar had outweighed the disadvantages.

He said Winrigo had suffered inconveniences such as power outages and regulatory issues.

However, it had been able to acquire a freehold factory rather than one on a limited lease.

The firm had also obtained access to a wide talent pool in both Singapore and Malaysia as the location of Iskandar allows employees to commute between the two countries freely, he pointed out.

Winrigo's plans do not end in Iskandar.

After its merger with Metro Wealth, the firms plan to continue expanding in the region, said Dr Ng, 66.

They have offices in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and China, and plan to expand into the Philippines, Myanmar and Cambodia in the next three to five years.

"We're working towards the one day when we can be listed on the Singapore Exchange," he added.