The World Bank

Vegetable Oil Processing Industry - Pollution Prevention Guidelines


Courtesy of The World Bank


Pollution Prevention Guidelines to provide technical advice and guidance to staff and consultants involved in pollution-related projects. The guidelines represent state-of-the-art thinking on how to reduce pollution emissions from the production process. In many cases, the guidelines provide numerical targets for reducing pollution, as well as maximum emissions levels that are normally achievable through a combination of cleaner production and end-of-pipe treatment. The guidelines are designed to protect human health; reduce mass loadings to the environment; draw on commercially proven technologies; be cost-effective; follow current regulatory trends; and promote good industrial practices, which offer greater productivity and increased energy efficiency.

Table of Contents

  • Industry Description and Practices
  • Waste Characteristics
  • Pollution Prevention and Control
  • Target Pollution Loads
  • Treatment Technologies
  • Emissions Guidelines
  • Monitoring and Reporting
  • Key Issues
  • Sources

Industry Description and Practices

The vegetable oil processing industry involves the extraction and processing of oils and fats from vegetable sources. Vegetable oils and fats are principally used for human consumption but are also used in animal feed, for medicinal purposes, and for certain technical applications. The oils and fats are extracted from a variety of fruits, seeds, and nuts. The preparation of raw materials includes husking, cleaning, crushing, and conditioning. The extraction processes are generally mechanical (boiling for fruits, pressing for seeds and nuts) or involve the use of solvent such as hexane. After boiling, the liquid oil is skimmed; after pressing, the oil is filtered; and after solvent extraction, the crude oil is separated and the solvent is evaporated and recovered. Residues are conditioned (for example, dried) and are reprocessed to yield by-products such as animal feed. Crude oil refining includes degumming, neutralization, bleaching, deodorization, and further refining.

Waste Characteristics

Dust is generated in materials handling and in the processing of raw materials, including in the cleaning, screening, and crushing operations. For palm fruit, about 2–3 cubic meters of wastewater is generated per metric ton of crude oil (m3/t). The wastewater is high in organic content, resulting in a biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) of 20,000–35,000 milligrams per liter (mg/l) and a chemical oxygen demand (COD) of 30,000–60,000 mg/l. In addition, the wastewaters are high in dissolved solids (10,000 mg/l), oil and fat residues (5,000–10,000 mg/l), organic nitrogen (500–800 mg/l), and ash residues (4,000– to 5,000 mg/l). Seed dressing and edible fat and oil processing generate approximately 10–25 m3 of wastewater per metric ton (t) of product. Most of the solid wastes (0.7–0.8 t/t of raw material), which are mainly of vegetable origin, can be processed into by-products or used as fuel. Molds may be found on peanut kernels, and aflatoxins may be present.

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