During the last century, a great deal of research and development as well as applications has been devoted to waste. These include waste minimization and treatment, the environmental assessment of waste, minimization of environmental impact, life cycle assessment and others. The major reason for such huge efforts is that waste generation constitutes one of the major environmental problems where production industries are concerned. Until now, an increasing pressure has been put on finding methods of reusing waste, for instance through cleaner production, thus mirroring rapid changes in environmental policies. The palm oil industry is one of the leading industries in Malaysia with a yearly production of more than 13 million tons of crude palm oil and plantations covering 11% of the Malaysian land area. However, the production of such amounts of crude palm oil result in even larger amounts of palm oil mill effluent (POME), estimated at nearly three times the quantity of crude palm oil. Normally, POME is treated using end-of-pipe processes, but it is worth considering the potential value of POME prior to its treatment through introduction of a cleaner production. It is envisaged that POME can be sustainably reused as a fermentation substrate in the production of various metabolites, fertilizers and animal feeds through biotechnological advances. The present paper thus discusses various technically feasible and economically beneficial means of transforming the POME into low or preferably high value added products.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.