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PHENOLIVA: Treatment and valorisation of olive mill wastes - Application of olive polyphenols to food

PHENOLIVA: Treatment and valorisation of olive mill wastes - Application of olive polyphenols to food

Phenoliva aims for full circularity in the olive industry and provides low-cost, highly active olive antioxidants for the food industry.

Phenoliva brings together partners from food industry, research and academia in order to implement an integrated waste management concept for the olive oil industry. Olive antioxidants are extracted from olive pomace (residue from olive oil production) according to a novel process and the resulting extract is processed to an innovative food antioxidant. Besides antioxidants, the process generates pomace oil, biogas, irrigation water and biochar (full circularity).

About Phenoliva

Olive oil production is responsible for large amounts of agricultural by-products generally considered as waste to be disposed of. Only 20% of the olive fruit result in Extra-Virgin Oil, the remaining 80% are waste (olive pomace). Most Mediterranean countries face serious environmental and economic problems handling this waste as its chemical composition creates challenges for stability, recycling and further processing. However, olive pomace has some unique properties - most of all its high content in olive antioxidants - which makes this by-product a very interesting, abundant and low-cost resource for a wide range of value-added products.

Phenoliva pursues three major goals. First, to tap this very abundant and largely unexploited, low-cost resource of powerful, natural antioxidants meeting the increasing consumer demand for natural, healthy food ingredients. Second, to reduce the environmental impact of the olive oil industry by tackling a long-standing and to date unsolved waste management problem with a circular approach. Third, Phenoliva connects different regions across Europe and aims to strengthen the exchange between partners from primary production, food industry, research institutes and academia which opens opportunities for business-creation and supplementary income streams for local SMEs.

Why Phenoliva?

Phenoliva addresses several hot topics within the olive oil industry, processing food industry and end consumer world:

  1. Full circularity: Most recently, the formation of the European Green Deal has emphasised the importance for all industries to adapt their business practice and to work towards a sustainable future. Phenoliva implements a novel side-stream management system for the olive oil industry which can be embedded into the existing infrastructure and offers full circularity.
  2. New business opportunities for primary sector: Phenoliva has a high focus on creating local impact by developing a business model that ensures a fair economic return in the food chain. This is especially important given the fact that small- and medium-scale olive oil producers are under increasing economic pressure and are facing an uncertain future.
  3. Novel, efficient food antioxidants: Olive antioxidants are among the most powerful natural antioxidants known to date. Phenoliva aims to provide the processing food industry with a novel ingredient that offers high technical performance (stability, efficiency, activity) and cost competitiveness.
  4. Natural, healthy and sustainable food ingredients: End-consumers clearly ask for naturalness, freshness, sustainability and healthy nutrition. All these needs are key focus of the Phenoliva project. Olive antioxidants are known for their unique health benefits.


Full circularity is a key motivation for the Phenoliva project. Although from the economic point of view olive antioxidants are the most interesting product, this is only a minor fraction of olive pomace in terms of volume. Phenoliva evaluates using the remaining biomass for the production of biogas, irrigation water and finally a valuable soil conditioner.

Full circularity for the olive oil industry.

Our partners from Spain (CSIC) are developing a soil conditioner based on the processed olive pomace to improve soil fertility and olive plant health. This will allow to completely close the cycle within the olive oil industry.

Our products

Phenoliva has developed a process which allows to fractionate olive pomace into a range of value-added products:

Our main product is an innovative, natural food antioxidant based on olive polyphenols. The Phenoliva product is of great interest for the processing food industry as an additive to preserve food quality or as a functional ingredient. We aim at providing the food industry with a new food antioxidant with the following expected benefits:

  • high technical performance
  • cleaner labelling
  • high sustainability focus
  • cost competitiveness
  • potential health benefits

The Phenoliva process further generates pomace oil, irrigation water, biogas and a valuable soil conditioner.

Phenoliva Team

ETH Zurich CSIC IG CSIC IAS Fraunhofer IVV RethinkResource Acesur Puratos Maspex Tymbark Lubella


The following partners are involved in the project


Project Lead

Claudio Reinhard

ETH Zürich


Activity Leader

Contact details

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