Innovation: European Awareness Raising Campaign For An Environmentally Sustainable Olive Mill Waste Management

Last update: 04.09.2013
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vegetable oil‚ waste management‚ environmental awareness‚ industrial waste‚ edible fat‚ agricultural waste‚ olive mill, olive oil, wastewater, omww, isrim, phytoremediation, eho, compost, pellet, lagooning, electrocoagulation, biogas, fcc, tirsav
Olive trees are among the most-commonly cultivated crops in the Mediterranean basin, in terms of the area covered. There are approximately 750 million productive olive trees worldwide, occupying an area of 7 million ha. Nearly all (98%) of the area dedicated to olive orchards is found in the Mediterranean region, which is responsible for 97% of world olive production. The main olive oil producers are Spain (27%), Italy (26%), Greece (18%), Turkey (6%) and, to a lesser extent, Tunisia, Morocco and Syria (4% each) and Portugal, Egypt and Algeria (2% each).

The volume of olive waste generated, amounting to 13 500 x103 tonnes/yr, represents a key environmental problem for Mediterranean areas, especially because olive oil production (and in turn the generation of its waste) is concentrated over a short period of time between November and March.

The waste is highly phytotoxic because of considerable concentrations of phenols, lipids and organic acids. However, these residues also contain valuable resources such as large quantities of organic matter and a wide range of recyclable nutrients.


Four national awareness raising campaigns were arranged in Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal after having carried out preparatory actions aiming at selecting the Best Available Technologies and preparing the informational material.

By using the same protocol in terms of basic information and supporting documents, 52 consultations and 50 meetings were organised with stakeholders and entrepreneurs respectively; national and regional legislation, incentives for putting in operation the innovative technologies and agreements for arranging meetings were the main topics discussed with stakeholders. Conversely, the environmental impact of the careless disposal of the olive mill residues, the law in force and a thorough presentation of the technologies previously selected were extensively examined during meetings with the olive mill owners.

The European campaign has been monitored in terms of number of realised plants, signed contracts and displays of interest: although some plants were constructed or are under construction especially in Italy, the number of displays of interest has largely exceeded the figures foreseen in the proposal.

This result means that barriers between the purpose of the entrepreneur to invest and the investment itself definitely exist; since the processes introduced during the campaign do not have technological barriers, economic and legislative reasons should be addressed.
In fact, it is reasonable to believe that an improvement of the current legislation in both waste/by-products definition and authorization procedures of alternative processes could strongly foster the innovation in the olive mill waste management.

Moreover, regarding the economic barriers, even crucial, they bind strictly with the legislation and with the legal definition of the olive mill residues. In this regard, a thorough evaluation of the national and European legislations was carried out by ISRIM with the collaboration of all the partners and discussed in documents containing national and European policy recommendations sent to the National Authorities and to the European Commission.

In conclusion, Oléico+ project not only has given a contribution in selecting the Best Available Technologies and thereby informing final user about innovative eco-friendly technologies, but especially in identifying and analysing one of the most important barrier to the innovation, namely policy and legislation.
Basically, the project was designed in two main phases:

a preliminary phase, in which technologies for OWM, already demonstrated and working in pilot or industrial plants, were selected, evaluated in terms of economic and environmental benefits and analysed towards territorial and legislative contexts. During the preliminary phase all the material needed for the campaign was generated by ISRIM and shared with the partners. ISRIM was responsible for the selection of eco-friendly technologies and LNEG for the territorial analysis and policy analyses.

Afterwards, the four awareness raising campaigns were carried out under the responsibility of each national partner, in line with the national political and economic situations. Concerning the dissemination action, every activity was managed in order to give to each partner the possibility to disseminate the project results; the dissemination plan involved all the project partners
The primary goal of the project LIFE Olèico + has been to raise the awareness among the olive industry operators of the environmental concern caused by the careless disposal of the olive waste, inducing them to adopt economic and environmental sustainable technologies. Although the project did not foreseen a direct technical and commercial application being an Information and Communication project, at the end of the four national awareness raising campaigns, the adoption of eco-innovative technologies has been envisaged; the project results discussed in this report shows about 200 displays of interest for the selected technologies by the olive mill owners in the four Countries, more than 7 plans that will be put in operation.

Besides, policy recommendations submitted to the competent authorities (National Ministries and European Commission) could give an important contribution for fostering the technical and commercial application of the selected eco-friendly technologies.

All the objectives foreseen during the submission of the proposal have been achieved; an analysis of each point is hereby reported and it is explained in depth in the Final Report available on the project website (

1. Raise the awareness among the olive industry operators of the environmental concern caused by the careless disposal of the olive waste; seminars, the web site, the brochure and the DVD were prepared and used as main tools to explain to the olive mill owners the environmental effects of a careless disposal of the olive mill waste in soil, surface water and sea. The antimicrobial effect, the phytotoxicity and the eutrophication process were thoroughly discussed during the awareness raising campaigns, making the olive industry operators conscious of the environmental concern of the careless disposal of the olive waste.

2. Change the behaviour of the olive mill owners related to OWM; questionnaires, interviews and surveys has shown that the entrepreneurs are willing to adopt eco-friendly technologies and invest in alternative methods different from land spreading, especially in Italy, Spain and Portugal. However, since several processes selected by Olèico+ project are not included in the current legislation, the use of these methods are often not allowed. Nevertheless, technical support and information about financial opportunities have been given during the European campaign.

3. Provide a significant contribution to the implementation of Community environmental policy and legislation in the field of the olive waste management; policy recommendations were produced and sent to the competent European and national authorities.

4. Exploit the work already undertaken in the field of the olive waste management; Olèico+ evaluated during the selection of technologies, all existing processes and technologies, as shown in the list of technologies uploaded in the project website; after selection, a thorough technical and economic analyses were carried out in order to exploit the work already undertaken.

5. Disseminate the project results; the results of the Olèico+ project were successfully disseminated through fairs, conferences, project website and publications.
Logo Of The Project

This innovation is the result of the project

Title: European Awareness Raising Campaign For An Environmentally Sustainable Olive Mill Waste Management


01.01.2009 to 31.12.2011

completed project

Organisations and people involved in this eco-innovation.

Please click on an entry to view all contact details.



Role in project: Project Coordination

Contact person: SANTORI Francesca


Phone: +39-0744547802



Field: Agriculture (Spain)

Role in project: Associated partner

Contact person: Mr. PENÇO José Maria




Field: Private and public administration, Scientific research and development (Portugal)

Role in project: Associated partner

Contact person: Dr. GOUVEIA Luisa

Website: http://WWW.LNEG.PT




Role in project: Associated partner

Contact person: Prof. KALOGERAKIS Nicolas