Palm oil sludge can be used for the solar panel industry, giving the industry the opportunity to be part of a sustainable circular economy, said Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He explained palm oil sludge can be used to protect the film on solar panels and called on industry players to explore this avenue.
“You plant palm oil, you produce crude palm oil, you also produce biomass and at the same time you also produce sludge. This sludge has a value.
“When people manufacture solar panels, where solar absorbs energy from the sun and uses the energy for other purposes,” he said at the 10th Premier of Sarawak Environmental Award here last night.
According to him, new technology to protect the film of solar panels requires palm oil sludge.
He said this meant palm oil sludge, which was regarded as useless and discarded, could be reused and in turn this would produce energy that will be used by the industry itself, continuing the cycle and becoming a circular economy.
“I believe our palm oil’s value will be recognised, including in the EU, if we have the ecosystem. I hope this is an example where we can be innovative and produce products that are sustainable,” he said.
Abang Johari also urged businesses and organisations to ensure they are sustainable as more and more investors are placing greater importance on the environment when making investment decisions
He said most socially responsible investors screen companies using Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria.
The ESG factors are a subset of non-financial performance indicators which include ethical, sustainable, and corporate governance issues such as making sure there are systems in place to ensure accountability and managing the corporation’s carbon footprint, he said.
Abang Johari pointed out this is a new requirement of financial institutions worldwide, including in Malaysia.
“If you don’t have these (ESG) factors in managing your corporation, I think quite difficult for you to get financing,” he said.
While investing in greener technology comes with a cost, the Premier said doing so is not just about corporate responsibility but overall long-term business strategy.
“As such, our emphasis on environmental sustainability will pave the way for more investment inflow to Sarawak that will co-create solutions, more green jobs, and business opportunities to drive our economy in a sustainable manner. Such collective action is crucial as we face the defining crisis of our generation – climate change,” he said.
Abang Johari cited a study by a global bank in 2021 that found by 2025, 70 per cent of multinational corporations (MNCs) would remove suppliers that endanger their carbon transition plan.
He said these MNCs are expected to exclude 35 per cent of their current suppliers as they transition away from carbon.
As such, he said if Malaysian companies are part of the MNC ecosystem, they risk being excluded from future business opportunities if they do not adapt their businesses to ESG practices.
He also called for sustained and continuous public awareness campaigns to enable equal responsibility in safeguarding the environment.
The award themed ‘Redefining Sustainability in Environmental Stewardship’ saw 144 entries from industries, organisations, and individuals.
Among those present were Deputy Minister for Energy and Environmental Sustainability Dr Hazland Abang Hipni and Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Urban Development Datuk Len Talif Salleh.