Status Changed to Non-Hazardous Waste, The Investment for Utilizing Spent Bleaching Earth is Wide-Open
Finally, the status of Spent Bleaching Earth (SBE) waste which has been categorized as Hazardous and Toxic Materials Waste was changed. This decision is contained in Government Regulation Number 22 of 2021 concerning the Implementation of Environmental Protection and Management.
In Appendix XIV of that Government Regulation, SBE is categorized as non-hazardous and toxic material waste with code N108 with an explanation is “Process of the oleochemical industry and/or processing of animal or vegetable oil that produces SBE from extraction (SBE Extraction) with an oil content of less than or equal to 3 percent “. The point of explanation also refers to if the oil content in the SBE is more than 3 percent, then it’s included in the list of hazardous and toxic material waste from Special Specific Sources with code B413.
The regulation regarding the SBE status as non-hazardous waste has changed from Government Regulation Number 101 of 2014. In that Government Regulation, SBE is categorized as hazardous and toxic materials waste from Special Specific Sources with the code B413 Category 2, which means this waste has a delayed effect and indirect impact on humans and the environment.
For your information, SBE is a solid waste produced from the process of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) into palm cooking oil. Bleaching Earth (BE) is a type of clay in the CPO refining process that aims to remove sap, heavy metals, and absorb color pigments in palm oil. Not only in palm oil, but BE is also used in processing other vegetable oils.
The status of SBE in Government Regulation 101/2014 is not because contains heavy metals or hazardous toxic materials, but based on the Basel Convention which is categorized SBE as hazardous and toxic materials waste because of its large amount and the potential for “self-combustion” because it contains around 22-30 percent oil residue.
This regulation received counter-responses, one of which was from palm oil stakeholders, namely the Indonesian Vegetable Oil Industry Association (GIMNI). This is based on there is technology processing of SBE using Solvent Extraction and able to produce Recovered Oil (R-Oil) and De-oiled Bleaching Earth (De-Obe) products that can be used as raw materials. R-Oil is used as a feedstock for biodiesel and lubricants/biolubricant. Meanwhile, De-OBE can be used as raw material for construction/building materials (concrete, cement and brick), bio-organic fertilizer, NPK fertilizer and animal feed. De-OBE products are also used for recycled Reactivation of Bleaching Earth/RBE for BE substitution in the CPO refining process.
GIMNI revealed that during the last five years, there were only 3 units of SBE processing plants with Solvent Extraction technology, namely in Sentul, Tanjung Morawa and Gresik. It shows that the large economic potential and business prospects of SBE processing have not been developed optimally. One of the crucial obstacles is the status of SBE as hazardous and toxic waste. This status of SBE is a disincentive for investors because it implies strict procedures and requirements that must be met to manage hazardous and toxic waste.
Beside, this status also has the potential to affect the image of the product and the Indonesian palm oil industry. When compared to other countries such as Malaysia, India and the European Union, SBE is not categorized as hazardous and toxic waste. This will have further implications, namely the weakening of the competitiveness of Indonesian palm oil and its derivative products in the global market.
After more than 6 years of the implementation of Government Regulation 101/2014, good news came from Regulation of the Minister of Environment and Forestry Number 10 of 2020 which states that the procedure for submitting exemptions from categorizing hazardous and toxic waste (including SBE) can be shortened so that changes in the status of SBE to non-hazardous and toxic can occur.
The Regulation of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the issuance of the Job Creation Law opens the opportunity for changes in the status of SBE into non-hazardous and toxic waste as stipulated in Government Regulation No. 22/2021. This decision was also supported by the results of characteristic testing conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry which stated that SBE that has been processed beforehand so the oil content is below three percent is proven to not contain heavy metals or other components that made SBE’s status categorized as hazardous and toxic waste.
It is hoped that the change in the status of SBE as non-hazardous waste in Government Regulation No. 22/2021 will become an incentive for investors to develop of SBE processing industry in palm oil center regions. So that the development of the industry will create a larger multiplier effect and economic benefits such as increased value-added, employment and increased income. GIMNI Executive Director, Sahat Sinaga estimates that of the approximately 22 units of Solvent Extraction Plant (SEP) built-in Indonesia with an investment value of IDR 1.8 trillion will absorb 1,100 direct workers.
Another impact of the development of the SBE processing industry is the opportunity for the palm oil industry (refinery to downstream industries) to become a green industry that has successfully implemented the principle of zero waste in its production process. An equally important implication is that the image of the Indonesian palm oil industry is getting better and more competitive with other palm oil producer countries.
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