United Plantations completes biggest engineering project in its 113 year history with the inauguration of the Optimill and UniFuji Project by his Royal Highness the Sultan of Perak on January 17, 2019. A project reflecting a circular economy.
The Optimill Project was initiated in 2015 as an ambition to run an entire palm oil factory complex without the use of fossil fuel. Today the complex is a perfect example of what a circular economy can look like. The site encompasses a super modern palm oil mill, a refinery and a solvent fractionation plant together with a biogas and a biomass plant which convert biomass and waste into the supply of green energy to run the operations.
In 2015 UP decided to build a new super mill, the Optimill, with the most modern equipment and technologies available in the industry and incorporate this into a layout that would not only “mirror the Danish dairy industry standards but also be a perfect example of the circular economy,” says Chief Executive Director of UP, Dato’ Carl Bek-Nielsen. With the new Optimill, UP has been able to shut two of its older palm oil mills and now process the crop from app. 18,000Ha at one site.
Green energy with biogas
The new Optimill produces a lot of bi-products in the form of biomass and wastewater during the processing of fresh fruit bunches. This in turn became an opportunity and enabled the company to construct a biogas plant which converts wastewater into renewable energy. The mill is thus self-sufficient in terms of green energy and operates without the use of fossil fuel.
Joint-Venture with Japanese Fuji Oil
With the large amounts of renewable energy available from the Optimill, UP managed to pursue a collaboration with the world renowned Japanese speciality fats producer, Fuji Oil, as they had been looking to expand their refining business to produce value added palm products made from RSPO certified plantations. The common objective was to do this without the use of fossil fuels as well as complying with the highest possible food safety and quality standards in the world. In 2016 the two companies thus initiated a 50:50 Joint-Venture, and in 2018 the JV materialised into a super modern and efficient refinery set-up including a solvent fractionation plant, known as UniFuji.
UniFuji new refinery
The state-of-the art new refinery, UniFuji, only utilises renewable energy derived directly from biomass and waste water generated from the Optimill. “With the Optimill and UniFuji complex, we have created a circular economy and best practise within the industry, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental footprint of the Group’s operations”, says CED of United Plantations, Dato’ Carl Bek-Nielsen.
The Optimill and UniFuji Project, covering 25Ha of land in the Ulu Bernam area of Lower Perak, was inaugurated by His Majesty Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah Ibni Almahrum Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah AlMaghfur-Lah, Deputy Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and Her Royal Highness Raja Permaisuri Perak Darul Ridzuan Tuanku Zara Salim on 17 January 2019. The Optimill and UniFuji project is the biggest engineering project undertaken in UP’s 113 year history and the venture has created job opportunities for 150 people in rural Perak.