AGROWASTE - Sustainable strategies for integrated management of agroindustrial fruit and vegetable wastes

LIFE10 ENV/ES/000469

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Margarita ROS
Tel: 0034968396200
Fax: 0034968396213
Email: margaros@cebas.csic.es

Project description:


Unlike other types of residues, such as hazardous waste or urban solid residues, there is a lack of clarity about the best treatment processes for wastes from fruit and vegetable industries. This is exemplified by the lack of detail in the European Commission’s treatment list. This classifies such waste quite generally as “plant-tissue waste” or “materials unsuitable for consumption or processing”. This fails to take into account the specificity of some of the types of waste, such as pruning or crop residues. As a result, there is no effective application of best management and enhancement practices. In order to increase the effectiveness of the different community and national sustainability strategies, it is necessary to conduct specific and concrete actions that incorporate best management and enhancement practices for any type of fruit and vegetable waste and residues. This is especially true where the development of policies and practices is inadequate and limited.


The objective of the AGROWASTE project was to design an integrated management system for fruit and vegetable wastes (FVW) for the region of Murcia, Spain. The aim of this was to promote environmentally-friendly technologies that convert FVW into resources for subsequent use, and to demonstrate proposed technologies for delivering economically-useful end products for specific waste types.


The AGROWASTE project designed an integrated management system for fruit and vegetable wastes (FVW). This was adapted to the region of Murcia, Spain, but has good potential for being adapted and replicated in other European regions, especially those in the Mediterranean area. For this management system, the project developed a web-platform that includes a database of the main sustainable strategies for the valorisation of FVW. The web-platform includes intelligent Decision Support Software (DSS) that provides advice on the most suitable valorisation technology for specific situations.

The database was established with data collection from over 40 processed fruit and vegetable industries in the region of Murcia. Information was gathered on FVW production (e.g. amounts, typologies, location and seasonal variation), the chemical and physical characteristics of each waste stream, and the main available technologies for the sustainable management of these wastes. Initially, 40 fact sheets were generated on organic wastes and by-products. A total of 53 technologies were incorporated into the database, with 51 associated fact sheets. Further data and information can be added to expand the application of the database. The data was analysed to quantify the by-products and the amount of recoverable waste generated in the region of Murcia. The web-platform or portal was used to disseminate the results of the analysis, to enable stakeholders to identify the best available technology for a specific FVW. A report was also delivered on the technological opportunities for valorising FVW.

The project performed pilot-scale demonstrations of some of the best innovative technologies for FVW. These innovative technologies focused on valorising FVW in three main target areas: food (by identifying and adding value to bioactive compounds extracted from FVW as multifunctional food ingredients); energy (by obtaining biogas through anaerobic digestion of industrial wastewater and organic solid wastes with high organic content); and agriculture (by obtaining mature organic soil amendments through an aerobic process that can be used both for improving soil quality and as a substitute for non-renewable peat).

The information generated in the project demonstrations could help industries to improve environmental performance and to achieve economic benefits (via the circular economy). The different technologies demonstrated involved the extraction of active compounds, and the use of anaerobic digestion (AD) or an aerobic process (AP) to obtain energy or organic compounds (e.g. compost), respectively. All these processes were continuously monitored, to measure different parameters specific to the technology being assessed.

In terms of food, several demonstrations were made at the pilot plant located at associated beneficiary CTC’s facilities, for example, for artichoke (a cinarina-enriched extract was obtained with antioxidant activity), as well as for lemon rind, onion and garlic subproducts, and strawberry leftovers and leaves. Five bioactive compounds were extracted from these FWV waste streams. The production of biogas through AD, and compost through AP, were demonstrated in pilot plants at the Universidad Miguel Hernandez; positive results were recorded in terms of quality and feasibility of use.

All the main stakeholders producing FVW in the region of Murcia were reached and informed of the project’s findings. Dissemination activities involved presentations at many events, including the final project conference, demonstration site visits, features in the media, and via the project website. The project’s data is open to the public through the web-platform.

AGROWASTE has contributed to achieving EU sustainable development targets, such as the sustainability strategies of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It also potentially contributes to achieving the objectives of the Thematic Strategy of Soil Protection (soil pollution) and the Water Framework Directive (water contamination). The project demonstrated that all types of FVW in the region of Murcia could be converted into a resource. The implementation of the project’s approach could therefore improve the environmental sustainability and the economic competitiveness of companies in the fruit and vegetable industries. Moreover, adopting the concept of waste to resource, and the application of new technologies for the recovery of materials from FVW, opens up new business opportunities and, consequently, the possibility of job creation.

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


Environmental issues addressed:


Waste - Bio-waste (including food waste)
Waste - Agricultural waste
Waste - Waste recycling


waste management‚  decision making support‚  waste recycling‚  food production‚  agricultural waste

Target EU Legislation

  • Waste
  • Directive 1999/31 - Landfill of waste (26.04.1999)
  • Directive 2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.200 ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Type of organisation Research institution
Description CEBAS-CSIC is a multidisciplinary research centre focusing on improving knowledge on sustainable use of scant resources in semi-arid environments. It has three main branches of research: Agricultural Sciences; Food Science; and Technology and Natural Resources.
Partners Centro Tecnológico Nacional de la Conserva y Alimentación (CTNC), Spain


Project reference LIFE10 ENV/ES/000469
Duration 01-JAN-2012 to 31-DEC -2014
Total budget 1,593,794.00 €
EU contribution 729,807.00 €
Project location Murcia(España)


Read more:

Newsletter "Agrowaste noticias : primer trimestre 2014" (349 ...
Poster "Agrowaste (information poster)" (417 KB)
Poster "Información proyecto : Estrategias sostenibles pa ...
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report


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