Journal of Oil Palm Research Vol. 33 (1) March 2021, p. 151-170



Received: 14 February 2020   Accepted: 7 June 2020   Published Online: 7 October 2020

Palm oil clinker (POC) is a by-product derived from crude palm oil (CPO) production. Many studies have examined POC in concrete and it has often been stated as being environmentally sustainable. However, evidence to support these claims are not abundant in the literature. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the environmental impact of POC using a comparative, midpoints life cycle assessment approach based on 13 impact categories from ReCiPe2016. The use of POC as a binder replacement, fine aggregate and coarse aggregate was considered. Only production of cement, sand, gravel, POC and transportation were included in the system boundary. The construction, service and end-of-life phases were excluded. A volume of 1 m3 mortar or concrete with similar compressive strength was used as the functional unit. Life cycle inventory data was obtained from the literature, Malaysia Life Cycle Inventory Database (MY-LCID) and Ecoinvent database. Economic and mass allocation factors were calculated for POC. Calculations indicated that the use of POC in mortar and concrete showed reductions in all impact categories when economically allocated. When mass allocated, POC contributed minimally to all impact categories except ‘Freshwater Eutrophication’ and ‘Human Toxicity’. Despite these drawbacks, results show that use of POC resulted in an overall improvement for the environmental sustainability.



* Department of Civil Engineering,
University of Malaya,
50603 Jalan Universiti,
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

Abd Rashid, A F and Yusoff, S (2015). A review of life cycle assessment method for building industry. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 45: 244- 248.

Abdullah, N and Sulaiman, F (2013). The oil palm wastes in Malaysia. Biomass Now – Sustainable Growth and Use. IntechOpen. p. 75-100. https://www. growth-and-use/the-oil-palm-wastes-in-malaysia, accessed on 6 February 2020.

Abutaha, F; Abdul Razak, H and Kanadasan, J (2016). Effect of palm oil clinker (POC) aggregates on fresh and hardened properties of concrete. Construction and Building Materials, 112: 416-423.

Aghamohammadi, N; Reginald, S; Shamiri, A; Zinatizadeh, A; Wong, L and Nik Sulaiman, N (2016). An investigation of sustainable power generation from oil palm biomass: A case study in Sarawak. Sustainability, 8(5): 416.

Ahmad, M H and Nurazuwa, M N (2007). Physical properties of local palm oil clinker and fly ash. Paper presented at the 1st Engineering Conference on Energy and Environment. 27-28 December 2007, Kuching, Sarawak.

Ahmad, M H; Sofian, M and Nurazuwa, M N (2007). Mechanical properties of palm oil clinker concrete. Paper presented at the 1st Engineering Conference on Energy and Environment. 27-28 December 2007, Kuching, Sarawak.

Ahmmad, R; Alengaram, U J; Jumaat, M Z; Sulong, N H R; Yusuf, M O and Rehman, M A (2017). Feasibility study on the use of high volume palm oil clinker waste in environmental friendly lightweight concrete. Construction and Building Materials, 135: 94- 103.

Akan, M O A; Dhavale, D G and Sarkis, J (2017). Greenhouse gas emissions in the construction industry: An analysis and evaluation of a concrete supply chain. J. Cleaner Production, 167: 1195-1207.

Alengaram, U J; Mahmud, H and Jumaat, M Z (2011). Enhancement and prediction of modulus of elasticity of palm kernel shell concrete. Materials and Design, 32: 2143-2148.

Alengaram, U J; Mohottige, N H W; Wu, C; Jumaat, M Z; Poh, Y S and Wang, Z (2016). Response of oil palm shell concrete slabs subjected to quasi-static and blast loads. Construction and Building Materials, 116: 391-402.

Allacker, K; De Souza, D M and Sala, S (2014). Land use impact assessment in the construction sector: An analysis of LCIA models and case study application. The Int. J. Life Cycle Assessment, 19: 1799-1809.

Anton, L A and Diaz, J (2014). Integration of LCA and BIM for sustainable construction. Int. J. Social, Education, Economics and Management Engineering, 8: 1356-1360.

Aslam, M; Shafigh, P and Jumaat, M Z (2016). Oil- palm by-products as lightweight aggregate in concrete mixture: A review. J. Cleaner Production, 126: 56-73.

Barcelos, E; Rios Sde, A; Cunha, R N; Lopes, R; Motoike, S Y; Babiychuk, E; Skirycz, A and Kushnir, S (2015). Oil palm natural diversity and the potential for yield improvement. Frontiers in Plant Science, 6: 190.

Black, L (2016). Low clinker cement as a sustainable construction material. Sustainability of Construction Materials (Khatib, J M ed.). Woodhouse Publishing, Duxford. p. 415-457.

Braga, A M; Silvestre, J D and De Brito, J (2017). Compared environmental and economic impact from cradle to gate of concrete with natural and recycled coarse aggregates. J. Cleaner Production, 162: 529-543.

Chen, C; Habert, G; Bouzidi, Y; Jullien, A and Ventura, A (2010). LCA allocation procedure used as an incitative method for waste recycling: An application to mineral additions in concrete. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 54: 1231-1240.

Chiew, Y L and Shimada, S (2013). Current state and environmental impact assessment for utilizing oil palm empty fruit bunches for fuel, fiber and fertilizer – A case study of Malaysia. Biomass and Bioenergy, 51: 109-124.

Cohen, J (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112: 155-159.

Dalil, M; Amodu, I O; Abbas, Y A and Husaini, A (2017). Effect of cement factory on land use-land cover in Obajana Lokoja local government area, Kogi State, Nigeria. African J. Environmental Science and Technology, 11: 384-392.

Darras, K F A; Corre, M D; Formaglio, G; Tjoa, A; Potapov, A; Brambach, F; Sibhatu, K T; Grass, I; Rubiano, A A; Buchori, D; Drescher, J; Fardiansah, R; Hölscher, D; Irawan, B; Kneib, T; Krashevska, V; Krause, A; Kreft, H; Li, K; Maraun, M; Polle, A; Ryadin, A R; Rembold, K; Stiegler, C; Scheu, S; Tarigan, S; Valdés-Uribe, A; Yadi, S; Tscharntke, T and Veldkamp, E (2019). Reducing fertilizer and avoiding herbicides in oil palm plantations – Ecological and economic valuations. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, 2: 65.

De Vries, S C; Van De Ven, G W; Van Ittersum, M K and Giller, K E (2010). Resource use efficiency and environmental performance of nine major biofuel crops, processed by first-generation conversion techniques. Biomass Bioenergy, 34: 588-601.

Dobbelaere, G; De Brito, J and Evangelista, L (2016). Definition of an equivalent functional unit for structural concrete incorporating recycled aggregates. Engineering Structures, 122: 196-208.

Estanqueiro, B; Silvestre, J D; De Brito, J and Pinheiro, M D (2016). Environmental life cycle assessment of coarse natural and recycled aggregates for concrete. European J. Environmental and Civil Engineering, 22: 429-449.

European Union (2008). Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the council on waste and repealing certain directives. Official J. European Union, L312: 3-30.

Germer, J and Sauerborn, J (2008). Estimation of the impact of oil palm plantation establishment on greenhouse gas balance. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10: 697-716.

Grbeš, A (2015). A life cycle assessment of silica sand: Comparing the beneficiation processes. Sustainability, 8: 11.

Hamada, H M; Jokhio, G A; Yahaya, F M; Humada, A M and Gul, Y (2018). The present state of the use of palm oil fuel ash (POFA) in concrete. Construction and Building Materials, 175: 26-40.

Hamid, W A and Rahman, S B W A (2016). Comparison results of forest cover mapping of Peninsular Malaysia using geospatial technology. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 37: 012027.

Hansen, S B; Olsen, S I and Ujang, Z (2014). Carbon balance impacts of land use changes related to the life cycle of Malaysian palm oil-derived biodiesel. Int. J. Life Cycle Assessment, 19: 558-566.

Hansen, S B; Padfield, R; Syayuti, K; Evers, S; Zakariah, Z and Mastura, S (2015). Trends in global palm oil sustainability research. J. Cleaner Production, 100: 140-149.

Hashim, Z; Subramaniam, V; Harun, M H and Kamarudin, N (2018). Carbon footprint of oil palm planted on peat in Malaysia. Int. J. Life Cycle Assessment, 23: 1201-1217.

Huijbregts, M A J; Steinmann, Z J N; Elshout, P M F; Stam, G; Verones, F; Vieira, M D M; Hollander, A; Zijp, M and Van Zelm, R (2016). ReCiPe 2016: A Harmonized Life Cycle Impact Assessment Method at Midpoint and Endpoint Level. National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. 194 pp.

Hosseinian, S M and Nezamoleslami, R (2018). Water footprint and virtual water assessment in cement industry: A case study in Iran. J. Cleaner Production, 172: 2454-2463.

ISO (2006a). Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Principles and framework (ISO Standard No. 14040:2006). standard/37456.html, accessed on 1 December 2019.

ISO (2006b). Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Requirements and guidelines (ISO Standard No. 14044:2006). https://www.iso. org/standard/38498.html, accessed on 1 December 2019.

Kanadasan, J and Abdul Razak, H (2015a). Engineering and sustainability performance of self-compacting palm oil mill incinerated waste concrete. J. Cleaner Production, 89: 78-86.

Kanadasan, J and Abdul Razak, H (2015b). Utilization of palm oil clinker as cement replacement material. Materials, 8: 8817-8838.

Kanadasan, J; Ahmad Fauzi, A F; Abdul Razak, H; Selliah, P; Subramaniam, V and Yusoff, S (2015). Feasibility studies of palm oil mill waste aggregates for the construction industry. Materials, 8: 6508-6530.

Karim, M R; Khandaker, M U; Asaduzzaman, K; Razak, H A and Yusoff, S B (2018). Radiological risks assessment of building materials ingredients: Palm oil clinker and fuel ash. Indoor and Built Environment, 28: 479-491.

Kim, T; Tae, S and Chae, C (2016). Analysis of environmental impact for concrete using LCA by varying the recycling components, the compressive strength and the admixture material mixing. Sustainability, 8: 389.

Kongsager, R and Reenberg, A (2012). Contemporary Land-use Transitions: The Global Oil Palm Expansion. Copenhagen, GLP International Project Office. 45 pp.

Kurda, R; Silvestre, J D and De Brito, J (2018). Life cycle assessment of concrete made with high volume of recycled concrete aggregates and fly ash. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 139: 407-417.

Landfield, A H and Karra, V (2000). Life cycle assessment of a rock crusher. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 28: 207-217.

Marinkovic, S; Dragas, J; Ignjatovic, I and Tosic, N (2017). Environmental assessment of green concretes for structural use. J. Cleaner Production, 154: 633-649.

Marinkovic, S; Habert, G; Ignjatovic, I; Dragas, J; Tosic, N and Brumaud, C (2016). Life cycle analysis of recycled aggregate concrete with fly ash as partial cement replacement. Paper presented at the Sustainable Built Environment (SBE) Regional Conference. 15-17 June 2016.

Marinkovic, S; Radonjanin, V; Malesev, M and Ignjatovic, I (2010). Comparative environmental assessment of natural and recycled aggregate concrete. Waste Management, 30: 2255-2264.

Martínez-Rocamora, A; Solís-Guzmán, J and Marrero, M (2016). LCA databases focused on construction materials – A review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 58: 565-573.

Mazlan, D; Krishnan, S; Din, M F M; Tokoro, C; Khalid, N H A; Ibrahim, I S and Komori, D (2020). Effect of cellulose nanocrystals extracted from oil palm empty fruit bunch as green admixture for mortar. Scientific Reports, 10: 6412.

Mo, K H; Visintin, P; Alengaram, U J and Jumaat, M Z (2016). Prediction of the structural behaviour of oil palm shell lightweight concrete beams. Construction and Building Materials, 102: 722-732.

Mohammadi, J and South, W (2017). Life cycle assessment (LCA) of benchmark concrete products in Australia. The Int. J. Life Cycle Assessment, 22: 1588- 1608.

Mohd Hilton, A; Lee, Y L and Nurazuwa, M N (2008). Water permeability of Malaysian palm oil clinker concrete. Paper presented at the Malaysian Technical Universities Conference on Engineering and Technology. 8-10 March 2008.

MPOB (2015). Malaysian Oil Palm Statistics 2015. MPOB, Bangi. 210 pp.

MPOB (2020). Overview of the Malaysian palm oil industry 2019. overview/Overview_of_Industry_2019.pdf, accessed on 3 June 2020.

Muhammad-Muaz, A and Marlia, M H (2014). Water footprint assessment of oil palm in Malaysia: A preliminary study. AIP Conference Proceedings, 1614: 803-807.

Murphy, D J (2014). The future of oil palm as a major global crop: Opportunities and challenges. J. Oil Palm Res. Vol. 26: 1-24.

Mutert, E; Fairhurst, T H and von Uexküll, H R (1999). Agronomic management of oil palms on deep peat. Better Crops International, 13: 22-27.

MY-LCID (2020). Malaysia Life Cycle Inventory Database., accessed on 20 May 2020.

Nambiappan, B; Ismail, A; Hashim, N; Ismail, N; Shahari, D N; Idris, N A N; Omar, N; Salleh, K M; Hassan, N A M and Kushairi, A (2018). Malaysia: 100 years of resilient palm oil economic performance. J. Oil Palm Res. Vol. 30(2): 13-25.

Nemecek, T; Knuchel, R F; Alig, M and Gaillard, G (2010). The advantages of generic LCA tools for agriculture: Examples SALSAcrop and SALCAfarm. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment in the Agri-Food Sector. 22-24 September 2010. Bari, Italy.

Onn,CC;Mo,KH;Radwan,MKH;Liew,WH;Ng, C G and Yusoff, S (2019). Strength, carbon footprint and cost considerations of mortar blends with high volume ground granulated blast furnace slag. Sustainability, 11: 7194.

Ooi, Z X; Ismail, H; Bakar, A A and Teoh, Y P (2014). A review on recycling ash derived from Elaeis guineensis by-product. Bioresources, 9: 7926-7940.

Quadry, M O; Mohamad, A and Yusof, Y (2017). On the Malaysian Ringgit exchange rate determination and recent depreciation. Int. J. Economics, Management and Accounting, 25: 1-26.

Sayer, J; Ghazoul, J; Nelson, P and Boedhihartono, A K (2012). Oil palm expansion transforms tropical landscapes and livelihoods. Global Food Security, 1: 114-119.

Rahman, Z A; Gikonyo, E W; Silek, B; Goh, K J and Soltangheisi, A (2014). Evaluation of phosphate rock sources and rate of application on oil palm yield grown on peat soils of Sarawak, Malaysia. J. Agronomy, 13: 12-22.

Safitri, L; Hermantoro, H; Purboseno, S; Kautsar, V; Saptomo, S and Kurniawan, A (2018). Water footprint and crop water usage of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) in Central Kalimantan: Environmental sustainability indicators for different crop age and soil conditions. Water, 11: 35.

Said, N; Ahmad, S M S; Malar, V S; Syafiqah, A K; Hajar, A M S and Aina, A R (2016). Precious nickel recovery from palm oil mill fuel ash waste (Ni- POMFAW) using acidic leaching extraction (ALE). Key Engineering Materials, 705: 374-379.

Salleh, S F; Abd Rahman, A and Tuan Abdullah, T A R (2018). Potential of deploying empty fruit bunch (EFB) for biomass cofiring in Malaysia’s largest coal power plant. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Power and Energy. 3-4 December 2018.

Shafigh, P; Mahmud, H B; Jumaat, M Z and Zargar, M (2014). Agricultural wastes as aggregate in concrete mixtures – A review. Construction and Building Materials, 53: 110-117.

Shiffler, R E (1988). Maximum Z scores and outliers. The American Statistician, 42: 79-80.

Shin, Y-S and Cho, K (2015). BIM application to select appropriate design alternative with consideration of LCA and LCCA. Mathematical Problems in Engineering, 2015: 281640.

Sims and Brown (1998). Concrete aggregates. Lea’s Chemistry of Cement and Concrete (Hewlet, P C ed.). Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford. p. 907- 1015.

Subramaniam, V; Choo, Y M; Muhammad, H; Hashim, Z; Yew, A T and Puah, C W (2010). Life cycle assessment of the production of crude palm kernel oil (Part 3a). J. Oil Palm Res. Vol. 22: 904-912.

Subramaniam, V and Hashim, Z (2018). Charting the water footprint for Malaysian crude palm oil. J. Cleaner Production, 178: 675-687.

Subramaniam, V; Ma, A N; Choo, Y M and Nik Meriam, N S (2008). Life cycle inventory of the production of crude palm oil – A gate to gate case study of 12 palm oil mills. J. Oil Palm Res. Vol. 20: 484-494.

Sumesh, M; Alengaram, U J and Nayaka, R R (2018). Effect of binder content and water-binder ratio in mortar developed using partial replacement of cement with palm oil clinker powder. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, 431: 082007.

Suttayakul, P; Aran, H K; Suksaroj, C; Mungkalasiri, J; Wisansuwannakorn, R and Musikavong, C (2016). Water footprints of products of oil palm plantations and palm oil mills in Thailand. Science of the Total Environment, 542: 521-529.

Tait, M W and Cheung, W M (2016). A comparative cradle-to-gate life cycle assessment of three concrete mix designs. The Int. J. Life Cycle Assessment, 21: 847- 860.

Tay, J H (1990). Ash from oil-palm waste as concrete material. J. Materials in Civil Engineering, 2: 94-105.

Tosic, N; Marinkovic, S; Dasic, T and Stanic, M (2015). Multicriteria optimization of natural and recycled aggregate concrete for structural use. J. Cleaner Production, 87: 766-776.

Van den Heede, P and De Belie, N (2012). Environmental impact and life cycle assessment (LCA) of traditional and ‘green’ concretes: Literature review and theoretical calculations. Cement and Concrete Composites, 34: 431-442.

Van den Heede, P and De Belie, N (2014). A service life based global warming potential for high-volume fly ash concrete exposed to carbonation. Construction and Building Materials, 55: 183-193.

Veraart, F (2018). Building materials and construction: Sustainability, dependency and foreign suppliers. Well-being, Sustainability and Social Development: The Netherlands 1850-2050 (Lintsen, H; Veraart, F; Smits, J-P and Grin, J eds.). Springer, Cham. p. 417-434.

Zambelli, B and Ciurli, S (2013). Nickel and human health. Metal Ions in Life Sciences, 13: 321-357.

Zarcinas, B A; Ishak, C F; McLaughlin, M J and Cozens, G (2004). Heavy metals in soils and crops in southeast Asia. 1. Peninsular Malaysia. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 26: 343-357.