• Provided site assessment, water quality monitoring, risks & financial cost study.
  • Improved water intake and wastewater management resulting in water efficiency and reduction wastewater streams.
  • Safeguarded workers and communities' health: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme.

Best practice water management at palm oil production sites in Indonesia

One of the major agribusinesses in Indonesia is aiming to lead its palm oil sites towards responsible production. It asked Royal HaskoningDHV to assess the water-related risks and opportunities at a palm oil refinery and two mills using the framework of the International Water Stewardship Standard developed by the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS). The standard offers a globally applicable framework for major water users to understand their own water use and impacts, and to work collaboratively and transparently with others for sustainable water management within the wider catchment.

Addressing the water challenge across the palm oil supply chain

Water stress is prevalent across Indonesia due to increasing demand on the nation’s clean, usable water capacity as a result of rapid urbanisation, changing land use, pollution and lack of treatment or distribution systems. Specific challenges within the palm oil supply chain include fluctuating water availability, increased tariffs and high costs of water treatment, as well as tightening regulation. Issues extend beyond individual sites to the larger catchment area which means solutions need to incorporate insight into shared challenges.

AWS certification brings wide-ranging benefits

Following full assessments of the sites, including water quality monitoring and data analysis, we provided recommendations for improvements as well as the risks and financial costs that could result from not making them. At the refinery, which includes a desalination plant, measures are already in place to ensure high water efficiency and effective water treatment. Our recommendations indicated the steps required to work towards the certification standard. We proposed engagement and collaboration with other stakeholders in the area and that water-related risks from raw material suppliers should be reduced. Further measures involved safeguarding the health of workers and communities using the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme, and improving important water-related areas around the refinery which include mangrove, coastline and a nature reserve.

Aim for self-sufficiency in the face of very high water costs

At the mills, our recommendations included the aim to achieve self-sufficiency in the face of very high costs for fresh water supplies by optimising the use of the existing pond and increasing rainwater harvesting on site. In theory, the area of the plant combined with the annual rainfall should provide enough water year round for the production process. We recommended increasing the pond’s capacity by making it deeper, lining the base with an impermeable layer, and carrying out regular maintenance to avoid silting. We provided suggestions to optimise the function of the waste water treatment plants and septic tanks.  

“Many companies in Indonesia are already introducing good water stewardship practices in response to water stress. However, they typically do not track the impact of these measures on resources and could be better prepared to make claims on good water stewardship practices,”

Lennart Silvis

Global Director, Water for Industry at Royal HaskoningDHV

“Our recommendations will assist our client in making such claims, which will be further reinforced by AWS certification. Alongside significant water and risk-adjusted cost savings, together with environmental benefits, the certification helps to increase investor confidence, strengthens the license to operate and supports positive brand perceptions.”

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