Food Science & Nutrition

Share this article:

Food Science & Nutrition

  • Join our comunity:

Olive Mill Waste: Time for Economically Feasible Solutions

By: , Posted on: March 20, 2017

Wikimedia

The cultivation of olives and the production of olive oil have deep roots in the history of Mediterranean region. Nowadays, this tradition represents a very important asset for many countries, not only in terms of culture and health, but also in spite of wealth. However, olive oil production is accompanied with the generation of huge amounts of by-products and waste that leave a congested environmental footprint.

These materials are undesirable for the olive oil industry in terms of sustainability and environmental impact, but perhaps more important in view of high disposal costs. Therefore, they have been considered as a matter of minimization, prevention and treatment for as many decades as olive oil industrial production exists. Indeed, the proposed treatment methods and the respective literature and references are endless.

Despite this fact, olive oil industry remains unsustainable, with few opposite examples that confirm this rule of thumb. Why is this happening? Is it a matter of inadequate treatment technologies or is it about cost? Olive oil is a sector challenged by many directions. Consumers demand extra virgin olive oils of ultra-high quality, product’s final price varies a lot from time to time and local authorities demand from production units to reduce their environmental impact. Under these conditions, even cheap solutions that promise the total treatment of olive mill waste may collapse financially olive oil industries.

Consequently, most treatment solutions have been rejected in practice due to industries’ denial that claim to close down production and society’s tolerance that delays the enforcement of environmental legislations implementation. Can olive oil industries overpass environmental legislations forever? Does this consideration fall in the frame of the modern bioeconomy? Can they adapt any alternative strategies? The urgent need for sustainability within olive oil industry has turned the interest of researchers and professionals to investigate the management of olive mill waste with another perspective. This resource contains valuable components such as water, organic compounds and a wide range of nutrients that could be recycled.

The prospect of recycling ingredients from olive mill waste is a story that started few decades ago. For instance, solvent extraction had been applied to recover oil from olive kernel, which is one of the by-products derived from olive oil production. Nowadays, olive kernel is considered an established commodity similarly to olive fruit, whereas scientists focus on the recovery of polyphenols, the reutilization of irrigation water, as well as the production of compost to be used as soil amendment. Subsequently, there is a need for a new guide covering the latest developments in this particular direction.

olive mill waste

Following these trends, Olive Mill Waste: Recent Advances for Sustainable Management aspires to fill in the gap of transfer knowledge between academia and industry by describing in details the viable industrial applications and scenarios. It highlights success stories and solutions that are already applied in some olive oil industries, whereas it explores the advantages, disadvantages and real potentiality of relevant processes and products in the market. The ultimate goal is to inspire scientific community and producers that aspire to develop real commercialized applications.

The book consists of 12 chapters. Chapter 1 discusses olive oil production, its environmental effects and the current sustainability challenges of the sector. Chapter 2 introduces the current advisable practices for the sustainable development of olive oil industry, focusing on olive mill waste and two soil remediation methods, applied within the framework of European project. Chapter 3 deals with the industrial valorization of residues from olive oil industry within the integrated concept of biorefinery.

Rest chapters focus on more specific applications. For instance, Chapter 4 presents the possibilities and alternative strategies to recover energy from olive oil processing residues. In Chapter 5, the benefits and risks of using olive mill waste as a soil amendment are discussed and recommendations on their proper application are provided, too. Chapter 6 describes industrial case studies for the detoxificaton of olive mill wastewater using Fenton oxidation process followed by biological processes for energy and compost production.

Chapter 7 presents an integrated and commercialized approach for the treatment of olive mill wastewater and solid residue using only biological treatments (i.e., trickling filters, constructed wetlands and composting). Chapter 8 deals with the co-composting of olive mill waste as well as the design and operation of two case (pilot-scale and full-scale) studies. Chapter 9 reviews the use of the different olive mill by-products in phytoremediation strategies of contaminated soils.

Chapter 10 denotes the different available technologies for the recovery of bioactive compounds from olive oil processing by-products and suggests an integral methodology that ensures the sustainability of the process. The applications of membrane processes for this purpose are thoroughly discussed, whereas detailed information for the current patented and commercialized methodologies are provided. Finally, Chapter 11 and Chapter 12 describe available and potential applications of compounds recovered from olive mill waste in food products and cosmetics, respectively.

The book could be used as a textbook and/or ancillary reading in graduates and post-graduate level, and multi-discipline courses dealing with agricultural science, food and environmental technology, sustainability and chemical engineering.

Read more articles from Charis Galanakis, Coordinator of Food Waste Recovery Group


Charis M. Galanakis is an interdisciplinary scientist with a fast-expanding work that balances between food and environment, industry, and academia. His research targets mainly the separation and recovery of functional macro- and micromolecules from different food by-products, as well as their implementation as additives in food and other products. He is the research and innovation director of Galanakis Laboratories (Chania, Greece) and the coordinator of Food Waste Recovery Group of ISEKI Food Association (Vienna, Austria).

He serves as an editorial board member and subject editor of Food and Bioproducts Processing and Food Research International, and he has edited 6 books from Academic Press: Food Waste Recovery: Processing Technologies and Industrial Techniques (2015), Innovation Strategies in the Food Industry: Tools for implementation (2016) and Nutraceutical and Functional Food Components: Effects of Innovative Processing Techniques (2017), Olive Mill Waste: Recent advances for the Sustainable Management (2017), Handbook of Grape Processing By-Products: Sustainable Solutions (2017) and Handbook of Coffee Processing By-Products: Sustainable Applications (2017).

See his full portfolio of books here.

Follow Dr. Galanakis via Twitter – @CharisGalanakis, LinkedIn or ResearchGate.

Join the Food Waste Recovery Group on LinkedIn or the Food Waste Recovery Page on Facebook.

Charis’ latest books are available to order on the Elsevier Store. Use discount code STC317 at checkout and save up to 30% on your very own copy!

Food Science & Nutrition

The field of food science is highly interdisciplinary, spanning areas of chemistry, engineering, biology, and many more. Researchers in these areas achieve fundamental advances in our understanding of agriculture, nutrition, and food-borne illness, and develop new technologies, like food processing methods and packaging material. Against a backdrop of global issues of food supply and regulation, this important work is supported by Elsevier’s catalog of books, eBooks, and journals in food science, considered essential resources for students, instructors, and health professionals worldwide. Learn more about our Food Science and Nutrition books here.