LIFE Project Cover Photo

Demonstration of hygienic eco-design of food processing equipment as Best Available Technique

Reference: LIFE12 ENV/ES/001070 | Acronym: LIFE ECO-DHYBAT



Meeting required hygiene standards is essential for the food industry. Food companies, therefore, devote considerable time and resources to achieving and maintaining safe standards through the cleaning and disinfection (sanitation) of installations and equipment. However, cleaning activities consume large amounts of water and chemicals, including alkalis, acids and disinfection agents. This generates large amount of contaminated wastewater and organic waste. Cleaning is also one of the most energy-consuming operations in the food industry, generating greenhouse gases from fuel combustion for steam production and high-temperature processes. Within the dairy and fish processing industries, cleaning and disinfection is considered to be the main source of environmental impacts.


The objective of the LIFE ECO-DHYBAT project was to demonstrate “hygienic ecodesign” techniques for food processing equipment, and to promote them as candidates for Best Available Techniques (BATs) in the updated BATs Reference document (BREF) for the food sector. The application of this pollution preventive approach will contribute to reducing the environmental impact of sanitation procedures in European food industries, with the aim being to show that eco-design of food equipment is a cost-effective approach that reduces the consumption of water, energy and chemical cleaning agents, and wastewater and CO2 emissions during sanitation processes. The project aimed to develop four industrial-scale demonstration production lines in representative dairy and fish processing industries, with equipment re-designed following new hygienic and environmental criteria.


The LIFE ECO-DHYBAT project demonstrated that “hygienic ecodesign” (or “eco-hygienic design”) is a feasible preventive technique that can significantly reduce environmental impact during the sanitation of food processing equipment and installations. Therefore, it promoted specific hygienic ecodesign techniques as candidate Best Available Techniques (BATs) in the updated BAT Reference document (BREF) for the food sector.

LIFE ECO-DHYBAT implemented hygienic ecodesign modifications to 14 pieces of equipment at industrial scale in two representative EU companies in the dairy and fish processing industries. These equipment modifications were made on two process lines of Leche Pascual (dairy processing) and two process lines of Frinova (fish processing). The equipment was re-designed following new hygienic and environmental criteria under an integrated approach. Two new soiling and cleaning protocols were defined for sanitary and environmental performance in closed (diary processing) and open (fish processing) equipment, respectively. Sanitation demonstrations compared the environmental impact of eco-hygienically designed equipment with that of conventionally-designed equipment. Comparisons were made using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology. The results showed that all of the project’s eco-hygienic design equipment provided environmental benefits, including reductions in the use of water, energy and chemicals. Furthermore, the equipment is easily cleaned, gives a better guarantee of sanitation, and contributes to reducing the global warming potential of sanitation processes.

The project’s innovative hygienic ecodesign approach combined the reduction of environmental impact with the maintenance, or even improvement, of hygienic results. These cost-effective techniques could prevent the consumption of significant amounts of energy, water and chemicals during sanitation operations.

  • Water consumption: An overall average of 44% estimated savings in water consumption. For the dairy processing industry, the project tests achieved up to 50% savings and in the fish processing industry up to 28% savings were obtained;
  • Energy and CO2 emissions: According to BREF, dairies use 80% of their energy as thermal energy to generate steam and hot water from fossil fuels. An average 21-33% reduction in energy consumption was obtained, equating to a reduction of 20- 49% of CO2 emissions; and
  • Wastewater: The new eco-designs reduced the quantity of sanitation chemicals used and the quantity of wastewater produced in volume. Overall, on average, wastewater was reduced by 36%.
  • These results were sent to the European IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) bureau. As a result, eco-hygienic design techniques were included as a candidate to Best Available Techniques (BATs) in the first draft of the updated version of the BAT Reference document (BREF) for the food, drink and milk sectors. This was conducted within the framework of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) (2010/75/EU).

    The project also contributes to the implementation of the EMAS Regulation ((EC) No 1221/2009), which aims to improve the environmental performance of companies, and the SCP/SIP (Sustainable Consumption and Production/Sustainable Industrial Policy) Action Plan (COM (2008) 397), by demonstrating production technologies that encourage innovation in two strategic sectors (food industry and food machinery). The project helps achieve policy objectives relating to increased water efficiency and water savings in the EU, particularly through the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC). By introducing eco-hygienically designed equipment into food processing industries, the project also contributes to the EU Circular Economy Package and the transition towards a circular economy.

    If the concept of ecodesign is replicated, the environmental, economic and social benefits can be significant. There is a good potential for transferability. The LCA data showed that the eco-hygienic design equipment is about 5%-10% more expensive, on average, than conventional equipment. However, the cost of the sanitation operations could be reduced by up to 30% (considering savings in water, water treatment, energy and chemicals).

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


    Reference: LIFE12 ENV/ES/001070
    Acronym: LIFE ECO-DHYBAT
    Start Date: 10/10/2013
    End Date: 30/09/2016
    Total Budget: 874,089 €
    EU Contribution: 434,244 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Asociación de Investigación de la Industria Agroalimentaria (AINIA)
    Legal Status: PNC
    Address: CL. Benjamín Franklin, 5-11 Parque Tecnológico., 46980, Paterna, Valencia, España
    Contact Person: Alfredo RODRIGO
    Tel: 961366090

    LIFE Project Map



    • Cleaner technologies
    • Food and Beverages


    • clean technology
    • water saving
    • food production
    • energy efficiency


    • COM(2015)614 - "Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy" (02.12.2015)
    • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
    • "Regulation 1221/2009 - Voluntary participation by organisations in a Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS), repealing Regulation 761/2001 and Decisions 2001/681 and 2006/193 (EMAS III) (25.11.2009)"
    • COM(2011)899 - “Innovation for a sustainable Future - The Eco-innovation Action Plan (Eco-AP) (15.12.2011)
    • Directive 2010/75 - Industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (24.11.2010)


    Name Type
    Asociación de Investigación de la Industria Agroalimentaria (AINIA) Coordinator
    Pescanova S.A., Spain Participant
    Grupo Leche Pascual S.A.U., Spain Participant
    Asociación Multisectorial de Empresas Fabricantes de Maquinaria, Spain Participant