Waste Utilisation Improvements

The use of anaerobic treatment of raw palm oil mill effluent (POME), boiler fuel combustion and the use of synthetic fertilisers with nitrogen content in our operations are a major source of carbon emissions. As part of our sustainability efforts, we have embarked on a plan to cut our carbon emissions by 25% by 2016 and 40% by 2020. Our efforts include the introduction of renewable energy in our operations and composting waste management systems.

Biogas as a source of energy

POME consists of water and a small portion of soluble components of palm fruit suspended materials like palm fibre and emulsified oil. Despite its’ biodegradability, POME cannot be discharged without being treated as it is mildly acidic and has a high biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). The traditional way of treating POME is to retain it over a period of time through a series of anaerobic and aerobic treatment ponds which work by removing oxygen demand through natural microbial reactions. Rubber effluents are similarly treated in our rubber factories. Use of anaerobic treatment ponds however, leads to biogas release, including methane emissions.

Trapping biogas for power generation and combustion is an efficient way to avoid methane being released back into the atmosphere. Through the introduction of biogas plants, we utilise biogas for power generation and where possible, electricity generated through biogas is fed back to the grid. Other possibilities include co-firing with other mill waste (such as fibre and shells) to increase energy self-sufficiency, flaring to avoid methane releases, and converting trapped biogas into compressed natural gas.

Composting

Composts can be produced through a combination of the two largest constituents of mill wastes, POME and EFB, as well as other by-products namely decanter cake and boiler ash. Composts are applied in estates as soil conditioner in an effort to ameliorate estates’ soil. Sime Darby Plantation began composting as a mill waste management initiative since 2004. We currently have 22 composting plants in Malaysia. Four of our composting plants are registered under UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) initiatives since 2007. CDM is a mechanism parked under the Kyoto Protocol that allows for investment by developed countries into developing countries for financing carbon emission reduction projects.
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