The palm oil industry has long been associated with environmental challenges, from deforestation to habitat destruction and carbon emissions. However, there has been a growing recognition of the need to transform the industry into a more sustainable and environmentally friendly sector in recent years. Leading the environmental crusade is a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to greening the palm oil industry. One standout figure in the movement is Hong Wai Onn, a Malaysian chemical engineer whose career has been marked by a tireless commitment to sustainability in this vital industry.

The Environmental Impact of the Palm Oil Industry

The palm oil industry has faced intense scrutiny due to its environmental impact. Palm oil production has been linked to deforestation in regions like Southeast Asia, where vast rainforests have been cleared for palm oil plantations. It has led to the displacement of wildlife, loss of biodiversity, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

The palm oil industry has also been criticized for its practices. The excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in palm oil cultivation has raised concerns about water pollution and soil degradation.

The Need for Sustainability

Recognizing the environmental challenges associated with palm oil production, the call for sustainability has gained momentum. Sustainable palm oil production minimizes environmental harm while promoting social responsibility and economic viability. It involves implementing practices that reduce deforestation, protect biodiversity, and promote fair labor practices.

Hong Wai Onn: A Champion for Greening the Palm Oil Industry

Hong Wai Onn’s journey as a chemical engineer has been closely aligned to green the palm oil industry. Born in 1981 in Malaysia, Hong’s early education and career laid the groundwork for his remarkable dedication to sustainability.

One of his significant contributions has been his role as a founding member of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Palm Oil Processing Special Interest Group (POPSIG). POPSIG plays a pivotal role in addressing the challenges the palm oil industry faces and developing sustainable solutions.

A Chemical Engineer’s Impact

Hong’s expertise in chemical engineering has been instrumental in advancing sustainability in the palm oil sector. His book, “A Chemical Engineer in the Palm Oil Milling Industry,” published in 2020, sheds light on the opportunities for chemical engineers in this sector and advocates for sustainable practices. The book received recognition in the Malaysia Book of Records and earned esteemed literary awards.

As the Commercial Head in a global biotechnology company, Hong has used his technical know-how to drive sustainability initiatives in the palm oil industry.

A Vision for a Greener Future

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Hong is actively involved in environmental-related projects, particularly those related to the circular bio-economy. His commitment to sustainability extends to his voluntary work reviewing the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil Standards, where he played a crucial role in developing national standards for sustainable palm oil production.


The journey to green the palm oil industry is a critical environmental crusade. With their expertise, dedication, and passion for sustainability, individuals like Hong Wai Onn are at the forefront of the movement. Their work underscores the importance of transforming an industry known for its environmental challenges into a beacon of sustainability and responsible resource management. As the palm oil industry continues to evolve, figures like Hong Wai Onn offer hope for a greener and more environmentally friendly future.