Minos - Process development for an integrated olive oil mill waste management recovering natural antioxidants and producing organic fertilizer

LIFE00 ENV/GR/000671

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Leandros SKALTSOUNIS
Tel: +30 210 727 45 98
Fax: +30 210 727 45 94
Email: Skaltsounis@pharm.uoa.gr

Project description:


There are some 2 500 to 3 000 olive presses in Greece used in the production of olive oil. Wastewater produced by the olive oil-mills constitutes a major environmental problem for the agriculture sector, due to its heavily polluted nature and to inappropriate wastewater management practices. The majority of olive oil-mills are small enterprises, which cannot afford the high capital cost required for the wastewater treatment process. As a result, they persist in disposing their waste in environmentally and legally unacceptable methods i.e. into streams, rivers etc, or even straight into the sea. A major concern is the significantly high organic content of this wastewater, which is not easily biodegradable. In addition, it contains high concentrations of polyphenols, which result in toxic matter and environmental degradation.


The objective of the project was to establish a demonstration process for the integrated utilization of waste produced by olive oil press factories. The produced wastewater contains chemical compounds with significant pharmacological, biological and chemical properties of high added value. This project involved the development of a viable high-technology process for the recovery of natural anti-oxidants from olive oil mill wastewater. The system is integrated with the composting of the wastewater sludge for the production of a natural organic fertilizer. Another target of the project was the reduction of the water consumption by recycling it and reducing the energy demand of the process using the olive oil mill solid waste as solid fuels. The approach was expected to provide an integrated and viable solution concerning the management of the specific olive oil mill waste.


The project demonstrated that the highly polluting liquid waste from olive oil mills (katsigaros) can be successfully filtered and extracted to retrieve valuable polyphenols which have a high market value. Furthermore, solid waste from the olive oil processing can be combined with any remaining parts of the organic fraction of the wastewater to produce a rich soil conditioner. The whole system affords an integrated waste management of this very problematic waste stream which is currently being discarded into the environment without treatment. The following results were achieved: 1. Development of a viable process for the integrated management of olive oil mill waste through the recovery of bioactive natural substances of high added value and the production of natural fertilizer. The integrated system consisted of the following: - Successive wastewater filtration - Capture of polyphenols by absorbant resin - Treatment of resin outflow - Recovery of polyphenols captured in resin - Chromatographic separation of polyphenols - Composting of sludge from filtration with olive leaves and solid waste from the mills. Creation of a useful soil fertilizer from the procedure. 2. A feasible solution was demonstrated for olive oil mill enterprises concerning the management of their waste and minimization of the environmental impacts caused by current waste disposal practices. 3. The introduction of a high technology processes in Crete and in Greece in general for the recovery of the aforementioned substances. 4. Employment potentials for highly specialized scientific personnel. 5. Potential for commercial exploitation of the high-value added polyphenols extracted in the cosmetics, food additives, and pharmaceutical industries. This project has been selected as one of the 24 "Best" LIFE Environment projects in 2004-2005


Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Food and Beverages
Water - Waste water treatment
Waste - Agricultural waste
Waste - Waste recycling


water reuse‚  edible fat‚  waste water reduction

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 80/68 - Protection of groundwater against pollution caused by certain dangerous substan ...
  • Directive 91/676 - Protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural so ...
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action inĀ theĀ field of water policy (23.10.2000)
  • Waste
  • Directive 75/442/EEC -"Waste framework directive" (15.07.1975)
  • Land & Soil
  • "Directive 86/278 - Protection of the environment, and in particular of the soil, when sewage slu ...
  • Waste
  • COM(1996)399 - Communication on an updated "Community strategy for waste management" (30.07.1996) ...
  • Directive 1999/31 - Landfill of waste (26.04.1999)
  • Land & Soil
  • Regulation 2078/92 - Agricultural production methods compatible with the requirements of the prot ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Type of organisation University
Description The project beneficiary was the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, led by Prof. Leandros Skaltsounis.
Partners GAIA Institute-Goulandris Natural History Museum University of Crete Technical Institute (TEI), Crete


Project reference LIFE00 ENV/GR/000671
Duration 01-SEP-2001 to 01-APR -2004
Total budget 1,239,213.00 €
EU contribution 608,561.00 €
Project location Kriti(Ellas)


Read more:

Project web site Website (Greek & English)
Publication: Layman report "MINOS - Process development for an integrated oli ...


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