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Journal: International Journal of Management (IJM) (Vol.12, No. 3)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 578-589

Keywords : Environmental History; Remaking History; Oil Palm and Palm Oil Sector;

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One of the key events that triggered the environmental history of the oil palm and palm oil chain was the discharge of untreated palm oil mill effluent (POME) into waterways. Since then, the chain has gradually improved its environmental practices. Thus, the aim of this review paper is a study on how the environmental history of the oil palm and palm oil sector in Malaysia is being re-made. The nascent development of the oil palm industry, starting from 1875 till 1975, has a benign environmental impact. The low number of palm oil mills till the 1970s did not pose a problem as the rivers have the absorptive capacity for POME. However, the expansion of hectarage into East Malaysia and the turning of palm oil into a global commodity in the international oils and fats market coincided with virulent environmental criticisms from certain anti-palm oil Western Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (ENGOs). The iconic use of the orang utan acts as a symbol for deforestation and habitat destruction in tandem with the use of peatlands for oil palm cultivation was portrayed by these Western ENGOs as environmentally destructive. Part of the re-making of environmental history for Malaysia also encapsulates the role of the Malaysian government in giving an undertaking to cap oil palm hectarage to 6.5 millions hectares with no oil palm cultivation on peatlands. However, these anti-palm oil Western ENGOs ignore the fact that Malaysia has a high percentage of permanent forest and tree crop cover. The remaking of environmental history in Malaysia started in the 1980s for oil palm cultivation with the gradual implementation of better environmental practices. Palm oil milling, the most polluting in the palm oil production chain, has undergone rapid expansion from the 1980s onwards. Palm oil milling wastes like POME which was initially discharged into waterways, empty fruit bunches, shells and mesocarp fibres are turned into resources. Renewable energy in the form of biogas captured from palm oil mill effluent are used to generate green energy for the national grid. The gradual wholesale adoption of green practices by the major players in the entire chain has led to the re-making of environmental history for the oil palm and palm oil sector in Malaysia. Thus, the remaking of environmental history for Malaysia palm oil has resulted in two distinct narratives, one that is pro-palm oil and the other, anti-palm oil emanating from Western ENGOs

Last modified: 2021-04-07 15:41:12