Journal of Oil Palm Research Vol. 26  2014 December p.  292-299
DOI:

WATER FOOTPRINT: PART 3 – THE PRODUCTION OF CRUDE PALM OIL IN MALAYSIAN PALM OIL MILLS

Author(s): VIJAYA SUBRAMANIAM*; HALIMAH MUHAMAD*; ZULKIFLI HASHIM* and CHOO YUEN MAY*

The Malaysian oil palm industry contributes immensely to the nation’s economy. In 2013 alone the export revenue of palm products reached RM 61.36 billion. The industry is constantly asked to prove the sustainability of its products. Currently, carbon footprint is such a catchphrase in the world that it has become a must for responsible producers to quantify their carbon footprint. The next catchphrase in the environmental front is water footprint. In view of this, there is an imminent need for the oil palm industry to be accountable for its water consumption. This study has a cradle-to-gate system boundary which starts at the oil palm nursery and ends in the palm oil mill. It covers the water footprint of the production of oil palm seedlings; oil palm fresh fruit bunches and the production of crude palm oil. The water footprint network, Hoekstra 2011 methodology is used to determine the water footprint. The functional unit for this study is 1 t crude palm oil (CPO) produced at the palm oil mill. At the palm oil mill, comparison was made for mills that practise dilution versus no dilution and allocation was carried out at the palm oil mill with palm kernel and palm shell which are considered as co-products of the production of CPO. Within the system boundary of the palm oil mill, the highest footprint comes from the blue water for the process. The grey water footprint for 1 t CPO increases when the biological oxygen demand of the final discharge standard decreases to 20 ppm as compared to 100 ppm. There was a reduction in the water footprint if the mills did not practise dilution. For the cradle-to-gate system boundary, the highest water footprint came from the green water footprint in the plantation for the production of fresh fruit bunch (FFB). This is natural as the oil palm is a perennial crop with an economic life cycle of 25 years and so it is quite natural to have high green water. However, this green water comes from the rain as the oil palm are rain fed and not irrigated. The contribution from nursery is very small. The best option for mills is to avoid dilution during process to obtain the best water footprint.

Keywords: , , ,

Author Information
* Malaysian Palm Oil Board, 6 Persiaran Institusi, Bandar Baru Bangi, 43000 Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia.
E-mail: vijaya@mpob.gov.my


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