Journal of Oil Palm Research Vol. 22  2010 December p.  895-903

Life cycle assessment of the production of crude palm oil (Part 3)

Author(s): SUBRAMANIAM, Vijaya* ; CHOO Yuen May* ; HALIMAH Muhammad* ; ZULKIFLI Hashim* ; TAN Yew Ai* ; PUAH Chiew Wei*

The oil palm indus­try is a very impor­tant indus­try which con­tributes immensely towards the econ­omy of the coun­try. In 2009 alone, the total exports of oil palm prod­ucts, con­sti­tut­ing palm oil, palm ker­nel oil, palm ker­nel cake, oleo­chem­i­cals and fin­ished prod­ucts, amounted to 22.40 mil­lion tonnes, result­ing in total export earn­ings of RM 49.59 bil­lion. The oil palm indus­try is an export-orientated indus­try which relies heav­ily on the world mar­ket. There­fore, it is vital for the oil palm indus­try to be sus­tain­able and com­pet­i­tive to increase its longterm prof­itabil­ity. The objec­tive of this study is to iden­tify the poten­tial envi­ron­men­tal impacts asso­ci­ated with the pro­duc­tion of crude palm oil (CPO), and to eval­u­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties to over­come the poten­tial impacts. This study has a cradle-to-gate sys­tem bound­ary. This arti­cle is part of the life cycle assess­ment (LCA) of the whole sup­ply chain for palm oil, and is linked to the upstream LCA for nurs­ery and plan­ta­tion which can be found in Parts 1 and 2. This arti­cle exam­ines the life cycle impact assess­ment (LCIA) of the pro­duc­tion of 1 t of CPO at the palm oil mill.

For this study, 12 palm oil mills were selected. These mills were selected based on the type of mill, i.e. whether they were plantation-based mills or pri­vate mills, and hav­ing dif­fer­ent pro­cess­ing capac­i­ties for fresh fruit bunches (FFB). The mills selected were all located in dif­fer­ent zones in West Malaysia. Inven­tory data col­lec­tion con­sisted of inputs and out­puts of mate­ri­als and energy. LCIA was car­ried out using the Simapro soft­ware ver­sion 7.1 and the Eco-indicator 99 method­ol­ogy. Results show that the impact cat­e­gories with sig­nif­i­cant impacts were from fos­sil fuels, res­pi­ra­tory inor­gan­ics and cli­mate change. The impact under the fos­sil fuels cat­e­gory came from the pro­duc­tion of the fer­til­iz­ers used as well as diesel usage for trans­porta­tion and har­vest­ing in the nurs­ery and plan­ta­tion phases. The impact cat­e­gories of cli­mate change and res­pi­ra­tory inor­gan­ics came from upstream activ­i­ties and the palm oil mill efflu­ent (POME) in the mill. Both these impact cat­e­gories are related to air emis­sions. The main air emis­sion from the POME ponds dur­ing the anaer­o­bic diges­tion was bio­gas which con­sisted of methane, car­bon diox­ide and traces of hydro­gen sul­phide. The unhar­vested bio­gas is a green­house gas. The impact under res­pi­ra­tory inor­gan­ics and cli­mate change from upstream was caused by the appli­ca­tion of nitro­gen fer­til­iz­ers in the plan­ta­tion as well as the nurs­ery. When bio­gas was cap­tured, the impact under cli­mate change was reduced. What was left were the impacts from upstream activ­i­ties. The Malaysian oil palm indus­try should seri­ously look into the old sludge treat­ment sys­tem which is emit­ting bio­gas. They should cap­ture the bio­gas and use it as renew­able energy source, or pro­duce value-added prod­ucts such as fer­til­izer from POME which will elim­i­nate methane generation.

Keywords: , , , , ,

Author Information
* Malaysian Palm Oil Board, P. O. Box 10620, 50720 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Cited By

1. Ang, C. T., and N. Morad. "LCA, Ecolabelling and Carbon Footprint as Product Environmental Assessment Tool (P.E.A.T) in Malaysian Perspective." World Applied Sciences Journal 24(9) (2013): 1261-1270.
2. Choo, Y. M., et al. "Determination of GHG Contributions by Subsystems in the Oil Palm Supply Chain using the LCA Approach." International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 16(7) (2011): 669-681.
3. Fogliatti, D. P., et al. "Life Cycle Carbon Footprint of Linear Alkylbenzenesulfonate from Coconut Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, and Petroleum-Based Paraffins." ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering 2(7) (2014): 1828-1834.
4. Guilbot, J., et al. "Life Cycle Assessment of Surfactants: The Case of an Alkyl Polyglucoside used as a Self Emulsifier in Cosmetics." Green Chemistry 15(12) (2013): 3337-3354.
5. Halimah, M., et al. "Determination of Life Cycle Inventory and Greenhouse Gas Emissions for a Selected Oil Palm Nursery in Malaysia: A Case Study." Journal of Oil Palm Research 25.DEC (2013): 343-347.
6. Hashim, Z., et al. "Water Footprint: Part 2 - FFB Production for Oil Palm Planted in Malaysia." Journal of Oil Palm Research 26(4) (2014): 282-291.
7. Kaewmai, R., A. H-Kittikun, and C. Musikavong. "Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Palm Oil Mills in Thailand." International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 11 (2012): 141-151.
8. Man, E. L. Y., and A. Baharum. "A Qualitative Approach of Identifying Major Cost Influencing Factors in Palm Oil Mills and the Relations Towards Production Cost of Crude Palm Oil." American Journal of Applied Sciences 8(5) (2011): 441-446.
9. Muhamad, H., et al. "Life Cycle Assessment for the Production of Oil Palm Seeds." Tropical Life Sciences Research 25(2) (2014): 41-51.
10. Puah, C. W., Y. M. Choo, and S. H. Ong. "Production of Palm Oil with Methane Avoidance at Palm Oil Mill: A Case Study of Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Assessment." American Journal of Applied Sciences 10(11) (2013): 1351-1355.
11. Rodrigues, T. O., et al. "GHG Balance of Crude Palm Oil for Biodiesel Production in the Northern Region of Brazil." Renewable Energy 62 (2014): 516-521.
12. Shamim Ahmad, M., et al. "Life Cycle Assessment for Oil Palm Based Plywood: A Gate-to-Gate Case Study." American Journal of Environmental Sciences 10(1) (2014): 86-93.
13. Vincent, C. J., R. Shamsudin, and A. S. Baharuddin. "Pre-Treatment of Oil Palm Fruits: A Review." Journal of Food Engineering 143 (2014): 123-131.
14. Noël, J. A., P. M. Allred, and M. A. White. "Life Cycle Assessment of Two Biologically Produced Phase Change Materials and their Related Products." International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 20(3) (2015): 367-376.
15. Mahmud, J., et al. "The Design of Net Energy Balance Optimization Model for Crude Palm Oil Production." Communications in Computer and Information Science 516 (2015): 76-78.
16. Lim, C. I., and W. Biswas. "An Evaluation of Holistic Sustainability Assessment Framework for Palm Oil Production in Malaysia." Sustainability (Switzerland) 7(12) (2015): 16561-87.
17. Lim, C. I., W. Biswas, and Y. Samyudia. "Review of Existing Sustainability Assessment Methods for Malaysian Palm Oil Production". Procedia CIRP.
18. Loh, S. K., et al. "Efficiency of Nutrients Removal from Palm Oil Mill Effluent Treatment Systems." Journal of Oil Palm Research 27(4) (2015): 433-443.
19. Paterson, R. R. M., et al. "Future Climate Effects on Suitability for Growth of Oil Palms in Malaysia and Indonesia." Scientific Reports 5 (2015)
20. Zolkarnain, N., et al. "Evaluation of Environmental Impacts and GHG of Palm Polyol Production using Life Cycle Assessment Approach." Journal of Oil Palm Research 27(2) (2015): 144-155
21. Saswattecha, K., et al. "Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Palm Oil Production in Thailand." Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences 12 (2015): 67-85.
22. Zolkarnain, N., et al. "Environmental Performance of Palmbased Methyl Ester Sulphonates Production using Life Cycle Approach." Journal of Oil Palm Research 28(1) (2016): 104-113
23. Shah, J., et al. "Comparison of Oleo- Vs Petro-Sourcing of Fatty Alcohols Via Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Assessment." Journal of Surfactants and Detergents 19(6) (2016): 1333-13351.
24. Subramaniam, V. "Quantification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the Production of Crude Palm Kernel Oil - A Cradle to Gate Study." Journal of Oil Palm Research 28(3) (2016): 359-365
25. Abdullah, I., et al. "Sustainability in Malaysian Palm Oil: A Review on Manufacturing Perspective." Polish Journal of Environmental Studies 24(4) (2015): 1463-1475
26. Kasmin, H., A. M. Lazim, and R. Awang. "Effect of Heat Treatments on the Yield, Quality and Storage Stability of Oil Extracted from Palm Fruits." Malaysian Journal of Analytical Sciences 20(6) (2016): 1373-1381
27. Murphy, F., and K. McDonnell. "Investigation of the Potential Impact of the Paris Agreement on National Mitigation Policies and the Risk of Carbon Leakage; an Analysis of the Irish Bioenergy Industry." Energy Policy 104 (2017): 80-88
28. Arshad, F., Y. A. Tan, and S. Yusoff. "A Cradle-to-Gate Study of GHG Emissions from the Transportation of Palm Oil, Palm Olein and Palm Stearin using the Life Cycle Assessment Approach." Journal of Oil Palm Research, 29(1) (2017): 120-129.
29. Vincent, C. J., et al. "Physical and Mechanical Properties of Fresh and Sterilized Oil Palm Fruitlets." Acta Horticulture Vol. 1152 (2017), doi:10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1152.43.

Source: Scopus
Last updated: 22 May 2017

Call For Papers

Search for:

Most cited articles


Subscribe with us to get the latest information on Palm Oil Research from MPOB today!