Circular Economy

Our commitment to the Earth

Sustainable Production

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BIOLIVAGOLD Project

Sustainability 'is increasingly the key word for the evolution of the agri-food system, for its environmental, social and developmental implications of a resilient, responsible and circular economy. Innovation therefore always has a strategic role for the sustainability of agri-food systems.
The fight against food waste is now a shared goal also in the public opinion; but how to translate it into operational and concrete initiatives? The olive and oil represent only a minimal part of the biomass produced within the olive-oil supply chain. In terms of weight, the olive is equal to the pruning residues, while the oil reaches a maximum of about 20% of the weight of the olives. The remaining biomass can be considered a processing residue. In the event that this residue is reused, it is classified in turn as a by-product, otherwise it is more simply defined as waste or waste if its aggregation state is liquid; the olive tree pruning residues belong, instead, to the field residues, they represent a not negligible biomass resource. On average, from an adult plant, 10 to 30 kg of plant material are removed per year depending on the structure and size of the trees. Usually a part of the residues is used in the company center itself, what is discarded is disposed of with agronomic practices, which consist of burying the material, which becomes a substrate for decomposing microorganisms.
However, this type of practice must be carefully evaluated since it can generate side effects of considerable importance, such as the development of parasites.
Vegetation waters (AV) instead constitute the waste resulting from the oil extraction process. They represent the main by-product of the olive processing. They take on different characteristics depending on whether they originate from extraction by pressure, by centrifugation or from a water-saving system. With respect to the weight of the olives processed, in the case of extraction by pressure, the vegetation waters are on average made up of 5% of washing water, 40-50% of the water used for making the olives; this value fluctuates in relation to the type of cultivar, and finally from 5-10% of final washing water. In this way, a quantity of vegetation water equal to about 80-110% of the mass of processed olives is obtained. In the new water-saving centrifugal plants, modest quantities of water (10-20%) are added, obtaining lower quantities of vegetation water, which approach 33% of the mass of the olives processed.
The vegetation waters, although not containing toxic substances, are however to be considered a highly polluting product, due both to the high load of organic substances that they acquire during the various extraction operations and to the large volumes produced in a short span of time.

Target

The AV contain a total of 97% of the total polyphenols present in the olive. These molecules in the scientific literature have been associated with bio-active properties for health (antioxidant, cardioprotective, hypoglycaemic, anti-hypertensive etc.).
The multiple health properties of olive oil are linked, in addition to unsaturated fatty acids, to the polyphenolic fraction (3% of the total content) that is collected in it, and have led EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) to approve a claim related to the cardioprotective action of hydroxytyrosol and derivatives on extra virgin olive oil.

The BIOLIVAGOLD Project, admitted to the facilities provided by the MiSE National Operational Program "Companies and competitiveness" - 2014-2020 ERDF - in the application sectors consistent with the National Intelligent Specialization Strategy “Fabbrica intelligente” e “Agrifood”, aims to identify a economically and environmentally compatible advantageous solution to transform production waste into new raw materials, with a view to sustainable development and circular and regenerative economy.
In particolare, l’ENEA ha messo a punto un processo basato sul trattamento delle AV con tecniche separative di filtrazione tangenziale a membrana al fine di frazionare e recuperare sostanza organica in sospensione, un concentrato polifenolico e acqua purificata. La sostanza organica in sospensione impoverita o priva del contenuto polifenolico può essere impiegata per la successiva produzione di biogas e/o di compost; i polifenoli possono essere impiegati nell’industria alimentare, farmaceutica, cosmetica; l’acqua  “vegetale” recuperata dalle olive può essere reimpiegata come base per la formulazione di nuove bevande. La definizione ed ottimizzazione del  processo separativo per il trattamento delle AV, sono realizzati presso la Hall  Tecnologica  Processi  Agro-Industriali  del  Laboratorio  Bioprodotti  e  Bioprocessi  del  Centro Ricerche Casaccia, e vede Agrioil in partnership industriale con General Contract Srl. La partnership prevede di sviluppare una  linea di prodotti  da  destinare  al  mercato  alimentare  e/o  cosmetico e mettere a punto dei sistemi di trattamento in grado di replicare il processo di separazione su una scala rappresentativa per trasferirlo in altre realtà industriali.
Economia Circolare