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Palm Oil Milling Wastes and Sustainable Development

Author(s): A. C. Er | Abd. R.M. Nor | Katiman Rostam

Journal: American Journal of Applied Sciences
ISSN 1546-9239

Volume: 8;
Issue: 5;
Start page: 436;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) | sustainable development | solid wastes | palm oil mill effluent | biogas production | biomass energy | renewable energy | Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFBs) | Environmental Quality Act (EQA) | Certified Emission Reduction (CER)

Problem statement: Palm oil milling generates solid wastes, effluent and gaseous emissions. The aim of this study is to assess the progress made in waste management by the Malaysian palm oil milling sector towards the path of sustainable development. Sustainable development is defined as the utilization of renewable resources in harmony with ecological systems. Inclusive in this definition is the transition from low value-added to higher value-added transformation of wastes into resources. Approach: A longitudinal study was carried out from 2003-2010 via, initially a field survey and subsequently a key informant approach with observation as a complementation for both. Results: Solid wastes, inclusive of solid wastes derived from air emissions and palm oil mil effluent, have a utility function with zero wastage. The principal source of effluent is palm oil mill effluent. Treated palm oil mill effluent is utilized for cropland application by plantation-based palm oil mills. However, independent mills discharge treated palm oil mill effluent in accordance to environmental parameters into receiving waterways. Methane is also released by palm oil mill effluent. Biogas from palm oil mill effluent and biomass energy from solid wastes are potential sources of renewable energy in Malaysia. Conclusion: In general, the wastes from palm oil milling are returned to the field for cropland application, utilized in-house or in the plantation, or sold to third parties. Thus, there is progress made towards sustainable development. The addition of new technologies and replacement of old mills will help to reduce the carbon footprint. However, at this juncture, the feed-in tariff for renewable energy is not financially attractive. If the biogas and biomass renewable energy sector were to take-off, enhancement in the value chain would occur and in tandem further progress towards sustainable development can be attained.
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