Waste Management in Olive Oil Industry

The olive oil industry offers valuable opportunities to farmers in terms of seasonal employment as well as significant employment to the off-farm milling and processing industry.  While this industry has significant economic benefits in regards to profit and jobs; the downside is it leads to severe environmental harm and degradation. In 2012, an estimated 2,903,676 tons of olive oil was produced worldwide, the largest olive oil producers being Spain, Italy, and Greece followed by Turkey and Tunisia and to a lesser extent Portugal, Morocco and Algeria. Within the European Union’s olive sector alone, there are roughly 2.5 million producers, who make up roughly one-third of all EU farmers.

olive-oil-wastes

Types of Wastes

Currently, there are two processes that are used for the extraction of olive oil, the three-phase and the two-phase. Both systems generate large amounts of byproducts.  The two byproducts  produced by the three-phase system are a solid residue known as olive press cake (OPC) and large amounts of aqueous liquid known as olive-mill wastewater (OMW).  The three-phase process usually yields 20% olive oil, 30% OPC waste, and 50% OMW.  This equates to 80% more waste being produced than actual product.

Regardless of system used, the effluents produced from olive oil production exhibit highly phytotoxic and antimicrobial properties, mainly due to phenols.  Phenols are a poisonous caustic crystalline compound.  These effluents unless disposed of properly can result in serious environmental damage.  There is no general policy for waste management in the olive oil producing nations around the world.  This results in inconsistent monitoring and non-uniform application of guidelines across these regions.

State of Affairs

Around 30 million m3 of olive mill wastewater is produced annually in the Mediterranean area.  This wastewater cannot be sent to ordinary wastewater treatment systems, thus, safe disposal of this waste is of serious environmental concern.  Moreover, due to its complex compounds, olive processing waste (OPW) is not easily biodegradable and needs to be detoxified before it can properly be used in agricultural and other industrial processes.

This poses a serious problem when the sophisticated treatment and detoxification solutions needed are too expensive for developing countries in North Africa, such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, where it is common for OMW to be dumped into rivers and lakes or used for farming irrigation.  This results in the contamination of ground water and eutrophication of lakes, rivers and canals.  Eutrophication results in reductions in aquatic plants, fish and other animal populations as it promotes excessive growth of algae. As the algae die and decompose, high levels of organic matter and the decomposing organisms deplete the water of oxygen, causing aquatic populations to plummet.

Another common tactic for disposal of olive mill wastewater is to collect and retain it in large evaporation basins or ponds.  It is then dried to a semi-solid fraction. In less developed countries where olive processing wastes is disposed of, this waste, as well as olive processing cake and SOR waste is commonly unloaded and spread across the surrounding lands where it sits building up throughout the olive oil production season.  Over time these toxic compounds accumulate in the soil, saturating it, and are often transported by rain water to other nearby areas, causing serious hazardous runoff. Because these effluents are generally untreated it leads to land degradation, soil contamination as well as contamination of groundwater and of the water table itself.

Even a small quantity of olive wastewater in contact with groundwater has the potential to cause significant pollution to drinking water sources. The problem is more serious where chlorine is used to disinfect drinking water. Chlorine in contact with phenol reacts to form chlorophenol which is even more dangerous to human health than phenol alone.

Remedial Measures

The problems associated with olive processing wastes have been extensively studied for the past 50 years.  Unfortunately, research has continued to fall short on discovering a technologically feasible, economically viable, and socially acceptable solution to OPW.  The most common solutions to date have been strategies of detoxification, production system modification, and recycling and recovery of valuable components.  Because the latter results in reductions in the pollution and transformation of OPW into valuable products, it has gained popularity over the past decade. Weed control is a common example of reusing OPW; due to its plant inhibiting characteristics OPW once properly treated can be used as an alternative to chemical weed control.

Research has also been done on using the semisolid waste generated from olive oil production to absorb oil from hazardous oil spills.  Finally, in terms of health, studies are suggesting that due to OPW containing high amounts of phenolic compounds, which have high in antioxidant rates, OPW may be an affordable source of natural antioxidants. Still, none of these techniques on an individual basis solve the problem of disposal of OMW to a complete and exhaustive extent.

At the present state of olive mill wastewater treatment technology, industry has shown little interest in supporting any traditional process (physical, chemical, thermal or biological) on a wide scale.This is because of the high investment and operational costs, the short duration of the production period (3-5 months) and the small size of the olive mills.

Conclusion

Overall, the problems associated with olive processing wastes are further exemplified by lack of common policy among the olive oil producing regions, funding and infrastructure for proper treatment and disposal, and a general lack of education on the environmental and health effects caused by olive processing wastes.

While some progress has been made with regards to methods of treatment and detoxification of OPW there is still significant scope for further research.  Given the severity of environmental impact of olive processing wastes, it is imperative on policy-makers and industry leaders to undertake more concrete initiatives to develop a sustainable framework to tackle the problem of olive oil waste disposal.

5 Reasons to Get a Countertop Water Filter in Your House

There is nothing like the convenience of fresh clean healthy water right at your tap and this is why countertop water filters are more popular than ever with today’s cash- and time-pressed homes. Not only are these cost-effective appliances a great option for the home, but those who must travel often can also take advantage of fresh clean water anywhere on the globe.

The water filtration device will provide clean water for drinking, washing and all kinds of hygienic uses. Sources of good clean water are getting harder to find and more costly each year. The filtration system works to remove fluoride, chlorine, lead, pesticides and other minerals and contaminants from the water from the city mains. This keeps you and those in your home freshly supplied with clan healthy water.

If you are interested in learning more about countertop water filters, visit https://waterfilterbase.com/best-countertop-water-filter/ and get information on the latest models that will work for your home. In the following sections we will take a look at a few more good reasons to have a countertop filtration system in your kitchen:

  1. Better Tasting Water

The water from the city mains is tired and exhausted from a long trip by the time it arrives at your kitchen sink. Just take a taste and you will find out all about the minerals, chemicals and other contaminants it picked up on the way. One of the primary functions of the countertop filtration system is to carefully pull these unpleasant tasting flavors and pollutants from the water.

Fluoride and chlorine are important for keeping our water supplies clean, but in the home they are not as welcome. These chemicals can irritate the skin and eyes and make the drinking water taste funny. This can lead to spending a king’s ransom in bottled water or even worse, drinking less water during the day.

But, filtration systems breathe fresh life into the kitchen tap water. They also remove the burdens of chemicals and toxins and leave clean fresh tasting water for hydration purposes.

  1. Healthier Water Sources

Better tasting water will encourage more hydration which is already good for the health. But, removing all those harmful chemicals and other unnatural compounds will also keep these pollutants from accumulating in your body and affecting good health. Whether the water in your local area is pretty clean or little rusty, your countertop filtration system can ensure your health is protected.

  1. Saves Cash

Once people realize that regular city water might not be as healthy as they thought, they are faced with some decisions. Some people will prefer buying bottled water as this seems like a cheaper choice initially.

But if you plan on drinking water for the rest of your life, why not procure a constant source rather than buying bottles for the foreseeable future? Sure the cost is higher initially, but after a year or two, of buying water bottles you will have spent the same amount or more.

  1. Better for the Family

Children almost more than anyone else need a constant source of fresh clean water to keep themselves hydrated. Plenty of water in the system is essential for good hydration, elimination of toxins and brain development as well.

Unfiltered water can cause health conditions to begin at a young age. In addition to removing harmful chemicals and minerals, some of these filters can add healthy minerals to the water supply boosting nutritional value. As well.

  1. Easier Installation

There are many filters that can provide the same health and purification benefits that a countertop system will, but these have some setbacks. Whole house filters will ensure that the entire home is supplied with filtered water and then under the sink options can address the needs of one source of water.

But, in addition to being more expensive, these filtration systems requires intermediate to professional DIY skills to install effectively. Furthermore, the countertop option can be packed up and carried with you to visit grandma or to your big conference in Buenos Aires.

Conclusion

The list of benefits continues from here. Filtration systems reduce the levels of plastic bottles being bought and discarded. The counter top option doesn’t require as much maintenance as some of the other options and doesn’t occupy your faucet either. So, have a drink to your health, from your very own cost-effective countertop water filtration system.