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DIONYSOS - Development of an economically viable process for the integrated management via utilization of winemaking industry waste; production of high added value natural products and organic fertilizer

LIFE03 ENV/GR/000223

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Serkos HAROUTOUNIAN
Tel: 30 210 5294247
Fax: 30 210 5294265

Project description:


The total volume of grape production in Greece is 500,000 tonnes. A large proportion of this amount is processed by the 400 wineries located on the Greek mainland and from which they produce 400,000,000 lt of wine. During the winemaking process, 120,000 tonnes of grape pomace is generated (around 17% of the total grape weight). Furthermore, 2 lt of sludgy wastewater is produced for every litre of wine. The large volume and organic charge of this waste constitute a serious pollution problem that is constantly on the increase, as public demand for higher quality wines is resulting in a substantial increase in the quantity of the waste produced. At the same time, most wineries are small to medium-sized enterprises that cannot afford the proper management of their waste, and strict regulations limit the amount of ethanol that may be produced from their waste by distillation. Thus, they adopt environmentally unacceptable practices to manage their waste. The most common activity in this regard is the transfer of solid waste to open fields, where it is slowly transformed into fertilizer by aerobic biodegradation. The sludgy wastewater is also discarded in fields, lakes, rivers or the sea. The organic charge of winemaking wastes consists mainly of polyphenols, which are of an exceptional environmental interest, since they possess antimicrobial and phytotoxic qualities. However, their uncontrollable disposal causes intense phytotoxic phenomena in the growth of plants, contamination of water, degradation in the quality of drinking water, and death of fragile aquatic animal species. Central Macedonia, where the project was situated, is one of the more prominent wine producing regions of Greece, with many small and medium-sized wineries in operation.


The overall goal of this project was the development of an economically feasible process for the integrated management of the waste generated by the winemaking industry in Greece. Specifically, the project wanted to demonstrate and prove that the development of a unit (at a pilot-plant scale) that would process winery solid waste to recover the high added-value polyphenols and use the remaining waste for the production of high nutritional value animal food or natural organic fertiliser was financially viable for SMEs.


The project has very successfully achieved all its objectives. It has demonstrated a technology that is financially feasible and minimises the environmental impacts of the wine producing process. DIONYSOS introduced a new concept to the management of the waste from this process, taking into consideration that the phenols contained in the waste can be an extremely useful product with considerably high market value, and that should be recovered from the waste stream. Primary treatment subunits were constructed at two wineries. Additionally, a central polyphenol recovery unit was installed at the University of Athens and a composting facility - with aerobic and anaerobic processing - was developed in the Agricultural University of Athens. Furthermore, some of the waste was used for animal feed. Project results included: 1. Recovery of the natural polyphenols, substances of high added value and wide applications by industries as food supplements and active ingredients of cosmetics. 2. Use of the remaining slurry wastes and sludgy wastewater for the production of high nutritional value animal feed. 3. Transformation of the remaining sludge to natural organic fertiliser by composting. 4. A wide range of applications for the aforementioned products were demonstrated in order to encourage stakeholders from wine making industry and other investors to adopt and invest on this technology. A guide on effective waste management for wineries was developed, while a feasibility study proved that the development of a unit that would use the proposed technologies is economically viable. Its dissemination campaign was very effective - the project results have already been replicated by a couple of wineries that did not participate in the project, and many sector stakeholders are interested in being informed about the project. In addition, the technology can also be applied to other industries that are processing agricultural products (such as olive oil, tomatoes, apples, peaches) with only slight modifications. Disclaimer : This « results » section should be considered as a draft until the Commission has completed its evaluation . This project has been awarded the title of "Best of the Best" from a shortlist of 21 "Best" LIFE Environment projects in 2007-2008


Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Food and Beverages
Waste - Industrial waste
Waste - Waste recycling


waste recycling‚  solid waste‚  beverage industry

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Agricultural University of Athens
Type of organisation University
Description Agricultural University of Athens – a Greek post-secondary research institute with courses in agronomical engineering.
Partners Kapodistrian University of Athens (UOA), Greece GAIA Research Centre-Bioanalytical Department, Greece Terra Nova Ltd., Greece KEOSOE-Central Union of Wine and Wine producing cooperative organizations of Greece


Project reference LIFE03 ENV/GR/000223
Duration 01-OCT-2003 to 30-DEC -2006
Total budget 1,316,423.00 €
EU contribution 645,086.00 €
Project location Kentriki Makedonia(Ellas) Attiki(Ellas)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website (EL, EN)
Publication: Layman report Layman report (GR)
Publication: Layman report Layman report (EN)
Video link Best project video (5')
Video link Best project video (5')
Video link Best project video (5')


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version