Olive oil makes a significant contribution to the economies of Mediterranean countries. However, its production generates challenging waste streams, including alperujo, a high moisture content mixture of vegetation water, solid parts of the olive and fatty residues. Disposal of this waste is complicated by its highly polluting polyphenol content. A new circular management model is required to valorise the nutritional properties of the polyphenols, which are a rich source of antioxidants. Extracting these polyphenols would therefore provide a valuable product for the food industry among other sectors, while removing a polluting substance from a major waste stream.
The LIFE CYCLOPS project aims to recover the polyphenols present in oil subproducts through a circular economy, zero waste and energy self-sufficient solution. Recovered polyphenols will be value-added products for the food, nutraceutical, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Additionally, specific polyphenols will be targeted for further purification and adaptation to other end-user requirements. The remaining de-phenolised waste will be co-digested in existing anaerobic digestion infrastructure to significantly enhance biogas production and the generation of a digestate with optimal quality for land application, closing the cycle and achieving zero waste.
The LIFE CYCLOPS solution will be validated on a pilot scale in the facilities owned by the oil company Borges. A replication of the solution will be carried out in a winery site managed by Unio.
Specifically, the LIFE CYCLOPS aims to:
- Demonstrate the technical feasibility of an innovative, zero-waste and cost-effective oil waste management solution and its transferability to the wine sector;
- Foster circular economy strategies by demonstrating the technical feasibility of polyphenols purification and adaptation to the food, nutraceutical, pharmaceutical and cosmetic sectors to close the loop;
- Ensure the replicability of the solution in the oil sector in other European countries and its transferability to the wine sector;
- Develop a go-to-market strategy to ensure the commercialisation of the solution for oil and wine waste management and the commercialisation of high-value recovered polyphenols; and
- Disseminate the benefits of the project’s solution to promote the sustainable management of olive oil production waste and the use of recovered polyphenols as a sustainable alternative in the polyphenols market.
The project contributes to achieving the objectives of the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC, WFD), in particular the 2018 amendment (2018/851) of the WFD (2018/851), which encourages the recycling, including composting and digestion, of bio-waste.
The project relates to the Spanish regulation Ley 7/2022, de 8 de abril, de residuos y suelos contaminados para una economía circular, which sets out guidelines for the management of organic waste, such as WWTP sludge from the food and drink sector, as well as other waste. The project should become a best practise reference for polyphenol rich waste management.
- Production of re-usable products: 12 kilotonnes per year of de-phenolised alperujo, suitable for co-digestion in WWTPs, and 8.45 t/y of polyphenols (contained in 4 550 t/y of polyphenol rich dilution).
- Reduction of 10.9 kilotonnes per year of inappropriately managed waste.
- Transferability assessment to the wine sector.
- Delivery of 2 market and competitor analysis, 3 business models and corresponding commercialization plans, and validation of a financial projection investment tool in 3 cases (2 replicability cases in oil sector and 1 transferability case in wine sector).