Turning palm oil wood waste into value-added products?

The palm oil wood interest group met recently, gaining valuable insights at a meeting with the University Putra Malaysia (UPM).

Oil palms are predominantly cultivated in Malaysia and Indonesia. While the fruit is valued for palm oil, the wood is often discarded as waste.

A palm oil wood interest group is now researching on how to utilise this wood after palm oil is harvested. Initial tests show that palm oil wood is suited for panel production and represents an alternative in light-weight construction.

“It is potential that is just waiting to be used,” said Dr Otto Leible from Weinig AG.

The interest group consists of technology companies Weinig, Leuco, Kleiberit and EWD.

The state and oil mills have also shown substantial interest in the sustainable utilisation of oil palm trunks as these mills often come under fire for their slash-and-burn practices to make way for the cultivation of more oil palm. The trunks can now being turned into chippings, which are used to treat the ground.

However, companies want to exploit the material on a wider scale—by achieving carbon-neutral products.

“If a competitive sale price can be achieved in the market for the wood, our model has a good chance with the oil palm companies,” said Dr Leible.

However, for this research to turn into a reality, there must be investors as well as a high-volume market that would make the project attractive for them.

“We believe large, international companies with high production capacities are primarily suitable,” said Peter Mansky of Kleiberit.

Dr Leible concluded, “The processing procedures have now been mastered and the technology partners are in place. Now it is up to ambitious companies in the wood sector to follow the template and enter this new and attractive business segment.”