Palm oil industry can get extra RM20bil yield through circular economy, says Ahmad Shabery

PUTRAJAYA: Embracing the circular economy model can yield extra returns of some RM20bil for the palm oil industry, says the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda).

Its chairman, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, said the revenue could be generated by leveraging the circular economy approach to harness oil palm by-products and biomass and convert them into value-added products.

Ahmad Shabery pointed out that palm oil production produces about 20% of oil palm products, and the remaining 80% is leftover waste or biomass.

“If the circular economy approach is given the right priority, the extra value gained will eventually trickle down to Felda settlers and the smallholders,” he said in his speech on the first day of the 2024 Bumiputera Economic Congress on Thursday (Feb 29).

In a circular economy, products are either recycled, recreated or re-used and returned to the economy after they have served their initial purpose.

Ahmad Shabery said Felda sees the potential to develop the biomass field more intensely, in which leftover waste from the oil palm industry can be converted into products such as fly ash, decanter cake and energy sources such as biodiesel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

He said that countries like Japan have implemented the circular economy model while Singapore has benefited from exploring the biomass market.

“We need to develop a policy and a detailed roadmap to drive the palm oil industry's transition to the circular economy model so that the gains will return to the settlers, most of whom are bumiputra.

“If this is done, it is set to be a game changer for not only those in the palm oil industry but also other commodities such as the rubber industry,” he said.

Ahmad Shabery also said there is a need to set up the necessary infrastructure, including transportation networks and storage facilities, to convert biomass into new products while ensuring minimal waste, pollution and emissions.

The KEB 2024 will be held from Feb 29 to March 2 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) and will see the participation of 5,000 stakeholders discussing various issues on how to empower the Bumiputra economy.

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