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.
* Malaysian Palm Oil Board, P. O. Box 10620, 50720 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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): 1333-51.
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): 359-65
25. Abdullah, I., et al. "Sustainability in Malaysian Palm Oil: A Review on Manufacturing Perspective." Polish Journal of Environmental Studies 24(4) (2015): 1463-75
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): 1373-81
Last updated: 06 February 2017
Subscribe with us to get the latest information on Palm Oil Research from MPOB today!