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J Environ Manage. 2019 May 1;237:94-102. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2019.02.021. Epub 2019 Feb 16.

Life Cycle Assessment of waste disposal from olive oil production: Anaerobic digestion and conventional disposal on soil.

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Department of Applied Science and Technology, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, Torino 10129, Italy.
Department of Applied Science and Technology, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, Torino 10129, Italy. Electronic address:
Department of Biotechnology, Università di Verona, Cà Vignal 1, Strada Le Grazie 15, Verona 37134, Italy.
Acea Pinerolese Industriale, Via Vigone, 42, Pinerolo, 10064 Torino, Italy.
Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning, Politecnico di Torino, Viale Pier Andrea Mattioli 39, Torino 10125, Italy.
Department of Civil, Constructional and Environmental Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome, Via Eudossiana 18, 00184 Rome, Italy.
Department of Electric, Electronic and Computer Engineering, University of Catania, Viale A. Doria 6, Catania 95125, Italy.


Extra virgin olive-oil (EVO) production is an important economic activity for several countries, especially in the Mediterranean area such as Spain, Italy, Greece and Tunisia. The two major by-products from olive oil production, solid-liquid Olive Pomace (OP) and the Olive Mill Waste Waters (OMWW), are still mainly disposed on soil, in spite of the existence of legislation which already limits this practice. The present study compares the environmental impacts associated with two different scenarios for the management of waste from olive oil production through a comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The two alternative scenarios are: (I) Anaerobic Digestion and (II) Disposal on soil. The analysis was performed through SimaPro software and the assessment of the impact categories was based on International Life Cycle Data and Cumulative Energy Demand methods. Both the scenarios are mostly related to the cultivation and harvesting phase and are highly dependent on the irrigation practice and related energy demand. Results from the present study clearly show that the waste disposal on soil causes the worst environmental performance of all the impact categories considered here. Important environmental benefits have been identified when anaerobic digestion is chosen as the final treatment. It was consequently demonstrated that anaerobic digestion should be a feasible alternative for olive mills, to produce biogas from common olive oil residues, reducing the environmental burden and adding value to the olive oil production chain.


Agro-food waste; Anaerobic digestion; Biogas; Life cycle assessment (LCA); Waste management

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