Journal of Oil Palm Research Vol. 22  2010 December p.  887-894
Life cycle assessment for oil palm fresh fruit bunch production from continued land use for oil palm planted on mineral soil (Part 2)

Author(s): ZULKIFLI Hashim* ; HALIMAH Muhammad* ; CHAN Kok Weng* ; CHOO Yuen May* ; MOHD BASRI Wahid*

Life cycle assess­ment (LCA) is an impor­tant tool for iden­ti­fy­ing poten­tial envi­ron­men­tal impacts asso­ci­ated with the pro­duc­tion of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) from spe­cific oper­a­tions in Malaysian oil palm plan­ta­tions. This LCA study is to make avail­able the life cycle inven­tory for cradle-to-gate data so that the envi­ron­men­tal impacts posed by FFB pro­duc­tion in the plan­ta­tion can be assessed. The results of the study pro­vide the Malaysian palm oil indus­try with infor­ma­tion, and iden­tify ways and mea­sures to reduce the envi­ron­men­tal impacts.

Most of the fore­ground data were col­lected directly from the oil palm plan­ta­tions (site spe­cific) from a detailed sur­vey of the estates through­out Malaysia. The inven­tory data were col­lected from 102 plan­ta­tions (based on feed­back to a ques­tion­naire) cov­er­ing 1.1 mil­lion hectares of planted area, which is approx­i­mately 25% of the total area under oil palm. This sur­vey area con­sisted of imma­ture (1– to 2-year-old palms) and mature (3– to 25-year-old palms) areas, with both data sets included in the inven­tory for an amor­tized period of 25 years. Data gaps were filled by infor­ma­tion obtained through lit­er­a­ture and pub­lic data­bases, or cal­cu­lated using pub­lished mod­els. The inputs and out­puts from upstream activ­i­ties were quan­ti­fied on the basis of a func­tional unit of pro­duc­tion of 1 t FFB, while the life cycle impact assess­ment (LCIA) was car­ried out using the Sima Pro ver­sion 7.1 soft­ware and the Eco-indicator 99 methodology.

The weighted results of LCA for the pro­duc­tion of 1 t FFB from con­tin­ued land use (replant­ing) show sig­nif­i­cant envi­ron­men­tal impacts in the fos­sil fuels, res­pi­ra­tory inor­gan­ics and cli­mate change cat­e­gories. The most sig­nif­i­cant process con­tribut­ing to these envi­ron­men­tal impacts comes from the pro­duc­tion and usage of the var­i­ous fer­til­iz­ers (espe­cially N fer­til­iz­ers) from the use of field machin­ery (trac­tors) dur­ing oper­a­tions in the plan­ta­tion, and the use of trans­port vehi­cles bring­ing inputs to the plan­ta­tions and trans­port­ing FFB to the mills. Pro­duc­ing FFB from con­tin­ued land use (replant­ing) has no effect on land use.

The results clearly show that nitroge­nous fer­til­izer pro­duc­tion and appli­ca­tion in the plan­ta­tion is the most pol­lut­ing process in the agri­cul­tural stage of FFB pro­duc­tion; this is fol­lowed by the energy used by the machin­ery in the plan­ta­tions and for trans­porta­tion of FFB to the mills. Ways of reduc­ing the envi­ron­men­tal impacts are by increas­ing the FFB yield through the use of high-yielding oil palm plant­ing mate­ri­als which will result in increased fruit pro­duc­tion, by apply­ing more organic sources of nitro­gen fer­til­izer instead of chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers, by return­ing the nutrient-rich slurry from palm oil mill efflu­ent (POME) treat­ment ponds to the field, or by apply­ing com­post (empty fruit bunches + POME) as fertilizer.

Keywords: , , , ,

Author Information
* Malaysian Palm Oil Board, P. O. Box 10620, 50720 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
E-mail: zulhashim@mpob.gov.my


Cited By

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Source: Scopus
Last updated: 21 November 2016

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