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ECOIL - Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as a decision support tool (DST) for the eco-production of olive oil.

LIFE04 ENV/GR/000110

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Georgios PAPADAKIS
Tel: +30 28210 37316

Project description:


Olive oil has been produced around the Mediterranean for millenia. In Greece, annual production amounts to approximately 430.000 tonnes and in Spain 950.000 tonnes. Italy, another major producer, produces some 450.000 tonnes a year. However, the olive industry also has a negative impact on the environment, arising from irrigation, the application of insecticide, transportation, the olive oil milling process (producing mainly non-biodegradable waste with phytotoxic properties), and possible trace toxic elements in the olive oil itself.


The project was to design and implement a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) covering the full cycle of olive oil production in Spain, Cyprus and Greece. An appropriate LCA methodology was developed following an assessment of the current situation. Aspects of olive oil production such as tree cultivation, waste management and marketing, were to be analysed, with the results permitting redesign and optimisation of stages in the cycle. Specifications were to be developed and actions recommended for improvement of procedures.


By implementing the LCA in the above regions, certain coefficients characteristic to each case (olive tree cultivation practices, olive oil production process, olive oil mill waste management systems and olive oil marketing) were provided and the effects to the environment and public health were determined. The results allowed comparisons and identification of those stages of the olive oil production cycle that could be optimised or redesigned. In addition, the novel LCA system could be used as an integrated decision support tool for all actors involved in the production of olive oil in order to apply practices of high efficiency, effectiveness and environmental performance. The existing Greek, Spanish, Cypriot, European Union and international legislative framework and standards related to the implementation of LCA in production processes, eco-efficient agricultural practices, operation of industries in an environmental friendly way and environmental management systems were recorded and assessed. Then, the current situation concerning the olive oil production cycle in the three areas under examination was described and recorded in detail (olive tree varieties, olive oil cultivation practices, irrigation demands, applications of pesticides and herbicides, type of pesticides and herbicides, quantities of olive oil produced, olive milling processes for the production of oil and olive mill waste management practices). Additionally, success stories related to eco-efficient practices and LCA studies in production processes were identified, analysed and recorded. The LCA principles and guidelines were described and presented in detail in order to extract a representative and global view of the functions of this decision support tool. Next, a LCA tool appropriate for the purposes of the ECOIL project was developed and described in detail: stages of the LCA procedure, material flows, measurement units, exact boundaries of the system, requirements for ensuring data quality, procedure for collection of data (Life Cycle Inventory – LCI), and procedure for Life Cycle Impact Assessment. Then, the LCA was implemented in the three areas under examination, based on the methodology and software that were previously developed within the context of the project. The results that were obtained from the implementation of the LCI in the three areas were used in order to assess the environmental impacts of the olive oil production cycle. Then, taking into consideration the information that was gained from the assessment of the environmental impacts as well as the LCI results, comparisons were made both horizontally (overall hazard potential of each case study) as well as vertically (among similar pollutants for all case studies) and the weak points in regard to the environmental burden for each case study were identified. Guidelines for the improvement of the entire olive oil production cycle, in order to achieve the eco-production of olive oil, were developed. Additionally, a policy document was developed that includes recommendations for the use of clean technologies, promotion of eco-production and eco-cultivation, modifications of production stages, adaptation of the principles of the integrated product policy, as well as specific suggestions for the application of market-based instruments such as tradable vouchers, tax incentives, tax breaks, subsidies, deposit-refund schemes and recommendations on potential funding opportunities. Finally, a framework of specifications for the implementation of the LCA methodology and software was prepared, a tool that can be used to adapt the know-how from the ECOIL project to other applications. Disclaimer : This « results » section should be considered as a draft until the Commission has completed its evaluation .


Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Food and Beverages
Environmental management - Life Cycle Assessment-Management


edible fat‚  food production‚  life-cycle management

Target EU Legislation

  • Industry and Product Policy
  • Regulation 1980/2000 - Revised Community eco-label award scheme. Information provided in the Comm ...
  • COM(2001)68 - "Final Green Paper on Integrated Product Policy (IPP)” (07.02.2001)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Technical University of Crete, Department of Production Engineering and Management
Type of organisation University
Description Technical University of Crete, Department of Production Engineering and Management.
Partners Agricultural Cooperative of Polemarchi-Municipal Dept of Polemarchi (Voukolies) (AGRIPOL), Greece University of Cyprus Fundacion LEIA, Spain


Project reference LIFE04 ENV/GR/000110
Duration 01-NOV-2004 to 31-OCT -2006
Total budget 839,575.00 €
EU contribution 419,787.00 €
Project location Kypros / Kibris(Cyprus) Extra-Regio(Cyprus) Mediterr. Cyprus (CY)(Cyprus) Navarra(España) Kriti(Ellas)


Read more:

Brochure "Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)" (291KB)
Brochure Project leaflet (560KB)
Brochure "Análisis del Ciclo de Vida (ACV)" (126KB)
Project web site Project's website (EL, EN)
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Guidelines for the eco-production of olive oil-Po ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Guidelines for the eco-production of olive oil-Po ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report (EN)
Publication: Management plan "LCA of Olive Oil using SimaPro 6" (129 KB)
Publication: Technical report "Scope of the Study" (451KB)


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