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ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS OF PALM OIL WASTE

Mohamad Azim b. Mohd Adam*, Ahmad Rabbani b. Rosli**, Mohd Hafiz Firdaus b.
Abdol Sukor**
*Mechanical Engineering Student, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia , Malaysia, 017-8807736,
azimadam1992@gmail.com
**Mechanical Engineering Student, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia , Malaysia, 014-2656260,
ahmadrabbanirosli@yahoo.com
***Mechanical Engineering Student, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia , Malaysia, 013-2751970,
hafizfirdaus92@gmil.com

Palm oil industries are one of the largest industries in Malaysia other than rubber and the
product has helped to change the scenario of its agriculture and economy. Oil palm was first
introduced to Malaysia from Nigeria by the British colonialists in 1917. It was however not until
the Malaysian government decided to promote oil palm as an alternative plantation crop in its
Agricultural Diversification Policy in the 1960s that its cultivation took off. Oil Palm plantation
has increased from 2.03 million hectares to 4.49 million hectares from 1990 to 2009, an increase
of 121.2%, in Malaysia [1]. It makes Malaysia as the second larger in the production of palm oil
after Indonesia surpassed Malaysia in 2006.
Presently, the used of palm oil in food or non-food applications or either used as it is or in
fractionated forms to produce a wide variety of products and the flexibility and versatility in
advanced technology had been one of the reasons to the increment in the popularity of palm oil
[2]. The increasing of palm oil demand each year can help Malaysia in generating a vibrant
economy. According to the statistics released by Malaysia-Romania Palm Oil Trade Fair and
Seminar (POTS), the amount of Malaysias palm oil export for the whole year in 2011 are
approximately about 17.99 million tones with a net worth of RM 80.4 billion. China is the
biggest consumer in palm oil with 22% following by the European Union (EU) with a percentage
of 11% and the third biggest is Pakistan with 10%. The total exports of Malaysian products are

worth RM 694.5 billion and out of that, RM 80.4 billion were contributed by the palm oil
industries.
With an increase in demand, environmental management in the palm oil industry has
become an issue of major concern today. The mills are most often located in the plantations and
the prevailing practice is collecting the waste and dumping in the most unscientific manner as
excess nutrients may be harmful to both the growing plants and the ecology on the whole [3].
The palm oil industry generates two major products from the processing of Fresh Fruit Bunches
(FFB) namely Crude Palm Oil and Crude Palm Kernel Oil. The production of these two products
will yield certain type of wastes and are mainly in the form of the Empty Fruit Bunches (EFB),
Oil Palm Shell (OPS), Palm Fiber, Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) and sterilizer condensate.
The Empty Fruit Bunches (EFB) is a lignocelluloses material which typically contains
25% of lignin, 50% of cellulose and another 25% of hemicelluloses in their cell wall [4]. For the
past few years, EFB was being used as one of the fuel to generate steam to produce power
source. The burning of EFB caused serious environmental concern as in order to Crude Palm Oil
also it needs a burning of FFB and this will increase the air pollution. For a typical 500,00 tonnes
of CPO, it may require the burning of 17,5000,000 tonnes of FFB which later produce 1 to 1.5
tonnes particulate matter to atmosphere per mil. The total amount of particles emitted by 309
palm oil mills in Malaysia is then about 154,500 tonnes in a day [5]. So, if this burning combined
with the EFB burning, then the amount of air pollute will be higher.
Composting treatment is the most lucrative option from the various waste management
strategies because it reduces costs, thereby increasing profit, as well as being an environmentally
sound solution. The process reduces EFB volume so that it is easier to transport and spread on
the fields. Furthermore, it helps protect the soil and crops by reducing the risk of weed seeds,
parasites, and pathogens spreading, which is a common problem with using manure as a
fertilizer. Composting is not only more cost-effective than mulching, but it solves some logistic
issues as well. For example, when the weather is unfavorable for spreading mulch, the EFB can
undergo composting treatment and the resulting product can be distributed when the conditions
in the field become more appropriate. Empty fruit bunch (EFB) composting treatment not only
offers oil palm plantations a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solution to dispose of
their waste, but also provides another product with saleable value.

Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) is the effluent from the final stage of palm oil production
in the mill. It is the largest Palm Oil industry by-product, a colloidal suspension containing 9596% water, 0.6-0.7% oil and 4-5% total solids including 2-4% suspended solids [6]. It is
estimated that for 1 tonne of crude palm oil produced, 5-7.5 tonnes of water ends up as POME
[7]. The palm oil industry still considers POME treatment as a burden rather than as part of the
production process. For these obvious reasons, a raw POME or treated POME are still being
discard into nearby rivers or land , as this is the easiest and cheapest method of disposal. POME
is a thick, brownish in color, liquid with a discharged temperature between 80-900

, being

fairly acidic with a pH value of 4.0-5.0 [8]. So the excessive quantities of untreated POME
deplete a water body of its oxygen and suffocate aquatic life.

This situation can be significantly improved as POME contains high concentration of


protein, nitrogenous compounds, carbohydrate, lipids and minerals that could be converted into
some useful material [9]. A bio-gas can be produced by processing POME. A process in which
microorganism break down biodegradable material in the absence of oygen. About 400

of

bio gas can be produced from 100 tonnes of POME. Some fertilizers also can be derived from
POME and used in the farms and vegetation areas. Other than that it is also found the gas
composition contained hydrogen (66-68%) and carbon dioxide (32-34%) that can be produced
from POME using anaerobic micro flora and this generated gas is free from methane [10].

The Oil Palm Shell (OPS) is another one of the waste products. The hard shells are
directly attained by breaking the palm kernel shells with machinery. In Malaysia, there is an
annual production of over 4 million tonnes of waste OPS. Exploiting this waste material not only
maximizes the use of oil palm, but also helps preserve natural resources and maintain ecological
balance. The OPS aggregate has a unit weight of 500-600 kg/

and this is approximately 60%

lighter compared to the conventional crushed stone aggregates [11]. Therefore the OPS might be
used in the production of cheap tiles concrete so that it can be used for low-cost houses since the
demand for low cost houses are increasing. By implementing this waste management, it will
generate a new source of income as the OPS product can be used for construction rather than use
it for generate steam for boilers.

Malaysia is one of the worlds palm oil producers and has been taking steps in order to
sustain the palm oil industries. Numerous obstacles and emphasis from various parties whether
within or outside the country. The government should take some action towards obtrusion given
by some parties and the reason why this journal was written is to throw and suggest some
methods that can be implement to overcome one of the biggest palm oil problem which is waste
management. If this journal can be take into consideration, then the following problems have
been eliminated: 1) Air pollution from fuel oil combustion has been reduced 2) the problem of
odour, the difficulties in acquiring waste water treatment sites, and the complaint from local
communities. 3) the operating staff is now capable in terms of process control and environmental
management.
REFERENCES
[1] Asha Embrandiri, Mahamad H. Ibrahim, Rajeev P. Singh. Palm Oil Mill Waste Utilization;
Sustainability in the Malaysian Context. International Journal of Scientific and Research
Publication. 2013.Volume 3.
[2] Datuk Dr. Mohd Basri Wahid, Ramli Abdullah. Focus on Malaysian and Indonesian Palm Oil
Industry. World Palm Oil Supply, Demand, Price and Prospects.
[3] Asha Embrandiri, Mahamad H. Ibrahim, Rajeev P. Singh. Palm Oil Mill Waste Utilization;
Sustainability in the Malaysian Context. International Journal of Scientific and Research
Publication. 2013.Volume 3.
[4] Kavitha, B., P.Jothimani, G. Rajannan. Empty Fruit Brunch- A Potential Organic Manure for
Agriculture. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publication. 2013.Volume 2:
930-937.
[5] Otti V.I, Ifeanyichukwu H.I, Nwaorum F.C, Ogbuagu F.U. Sustainable Oil Palm Waste
Management in Engineering Development. Civil and Environmental Research. 2014.
Volume 6.
[6] Mohammad AW, yeong WT, Md Jahim J, Anuar, N. Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME)
Treatment and Bioresource Recovery Using Ultrafiltration Membrane: Effect of Pressure
One Membrane Fouling, Biochemical Engineering Journal 2008; 35(3):309-17.

[7] Ahmad A, Ismail S, Bhatia S (2003). Water Recycling for Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME)
Using Membrane Technology. Desalination, 157: 87-95.
[8] Otti V.I, Ifeanyichukwu H.I, Nwaorum F.C, Ogbuagu F.U. Sustainable Oil Palm Waste
Management in Engineering Development. Civil and Environmental Research. 2014.
Volume 6.
[9] Habib MAB, Yusoff

FM, Phang SM, Ang KJ, Mohamed S. Nutritional Values of

Chironomid Larvae Grown in Palm Oil Mill Effluent and Alga Culture. Aquaculture 1997;
158: 95-105.
[10] Fakhrul-Razi, Yassin AAA, Lyuke SE, Ngan MA, Morimoto M. Bio-hydrogen Synthesis
from Wastewater by Anaerobic Fermentation Using Microflora. International Journal of
Green Energy 2005; 2: 387-96.
[11] D.C.L.Teo, M.A.Mannan, V.J. Kurian. Structural Concrete Using Oil Palm Shell (OPS) as
Lightweight Aggregate. Turkish J.Eng.Env.Sci.2006 : 251-257.