Palm Oil Engineering Bulletin No.121 (Oct - Dec 2016) p17-20
The Importance of Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) for the Oil Palm Industry
Haryati Zainal*, Vijaya Subramaniam*, Zulkifli Hashim*, Loh Soh Kheang* and Ahmad Kushairi Din*

Oil palm is a valuable economic crop. Its cultivation and processing provide employment to local community (Budidarsono et al., 2012, Norwana et al., 2011) and allow them to participate in the cash economy (Oxford Busninees Group, 2011). This often results in the improvement of the local infrastructure and basic social welfare services such as schools and health facilities. In some areas, the cultivation of oil palm has replaced traditional agricultural practices mainly due to the higher earning potential offered by oil palm cultivation. However, over the years the oil palm industry has been highly criticised for causing several environmental sustainability issues such as climate change, land use change,cultivation on peat, watercourse pollution, etc. MPOB has embarked on a series of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies covering the whole supply chain from cradle to grave since 2003. The whole study for the supply chain was completed in 2009 which was reviewed and endorsed by an external panel of experts. However, these LCA studies were purely environmental LCA (E-LCA) and did not touch on the other two aspects of sustainability which are the social and economy aspects. The oil palm industry is always scrutinised on its sustainability performance and so it is of utmost important to also gauge the social issues concerning the industry.

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