Mediterranean Cooperation in the Treatment and Valorization of Olive Mill Wastewater (MEDOLICO)
Mediterranean Cooperation in the Treatment and Valorization of Olive Mill Wastewater (MEDOLICO)

Program At A Glance

  Funding Agencies The fund is granted by the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) in the framework of the cross-border cooperation programme for the Mediterranean Sea Basin.
  Program Period 2011-2014
  Total Budget 1.964.499,25 €
  NIREAS Contact Dr. D. Fatta Kassinos
  Project Acronym MEDOLICO
  Dedicated Webpage
  Project Code I-B/2.1/090
  Coordinating Beneficiary NIREAS - International Water research Center, University of Cyprus
  Associated Beneficiaries Matimop, Israel Industry for R&D, Israel
Unioncamere Liguria, Italy
Unidade de Bioenergia, Laboratorio Nacional de Energia e Geologia, LNEG, Portugal
Jordan University of Science and Technology, Jordan
The Ben-Gurion University, Israel
University of Genoa, Italy

Program Overview

"MEDOLICO" project is a joint Mediterranean initiative bringing together countries from the East-end (Cyprus, Israel, Jordan), the West-end (Portugal) and from the North (Italy) of the Mediterranean.

The project seeks to prevent and reduce the environmental risk presented by Olive Mill Wastewater (OMW) by collaborating on the evaluation of the performance of various promising OMW treatment technologies and developing uniform treatment procedures according to the sought purpose (water for irrigation, recycling into the olive mill manufacturing process, etc.), which will then be pilot tested. There will be a further evaluation of the potential for valorization of the collected by-products so that a solution can be provided that sustainably protect the environment heritage of the Mediterranean regions while remaining cost-efficient for the olive mills.

Wastewater management in relation with the need and the potential for water re-use remains a crucial issue to the sustainability of the environment, with vital implications and challenges in the socio-economic development. Olive Mill Wastewater (OMW) belongs to the category of agro-industrial waste and is one of the most difficult wastewater flows to manage. OMW is generated during the olive oil production in large volumes, and is characterized by high polluting load.

OMW is composed of large amounts of organic constituents such as polyphenols, sugars, lipids, nitrogenous compounds, organic acids, polyalcohol, inorganic constituents and more than 80% water.

The typical range for Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD5) of the OMW is around 15-135 g/l, for Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) is 37-318 g/l, for Total Suspended Solids (TSS) is 6-69 g/l and for pH is 4.6-5.8. The organic load of OMW is mainly non-biodegradable. Moreover, OMW has phytotoxic properties. However, OMW may constitute a precious resource of potentially useful polyphenols such as hydroxytyrosol (HT), tyrosol (T), oleuropein, which are of great importance in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries due to their antioxidant properties.

Currently, most olive millers in the Mediterranean region either use only common treatment methods like the evaporation to manage the OMW or they just dispose the OMW in the areas surrounding their facilities.

The project aims at evaluating the performance of a number of advanced technological processes for the OMW treatment, such as:

  • Coagulation/flocculation
  • Biological treatment through the JACTO reactor
  • Membrane treatment using Micro filtration/Reverse osmosis (MF/RO) or Ultra Filtration/Reverse Osmosis (UF/RO).
  • The coagulation/flocculation and advanced solar-Fenton photocatalytic oxidation.

Since all the consortium partner countries (i.e. Cyprus, Israel, Italy, Jordan and Portugal) are highly active in the olive oil production and they all face the economic challenges posed by the management of OMW, the outcomes of the project are expected to be significant and beneficial for the effective management of OMW.

The byproducts that could be recovered from the OMW could enhance the valorization of OMW towards the direction of finding solutions that significantly reduce the environmental impact of olive mills.

Furthermore, the re-use potential of the treated wastewater (e.g. for irrigation) is expected to have a significant added value since these countries as many others in the region, have to face consequent years of drought and increasing water scarcity.


The main objectives of the project are the following:

  • Medolico will produce a report on the existing status related to the OMW management in the Mediterranean basin.
  • Through cross-border exchange of OMW samples and laboratory-scale tests, the project will evaluate the performance of several promising technologies and develop uniform treatment procedures for each of the chosen methods either autonomously or combined with other technologies.
  • The project will identify the commercial opportunities offered by some of the OMW components (phenols especially) as by-products for other industries (i.e. cosmetics, food, bio fuel).
  • A report on the valorization of byproducts will be produced.
  • The project will develop optimized processes on coagulation/flocculation, solar-Fenton oxidation, membrane filtration and JACTO process on bench scale.
  • Through the project reactors on pilot scale for the mentioned technologies will be designed, manufactured and operated in Cyprus, Israel and Jordan.
  • The project will evaluate the work on an economic and financial level, trying to identify solutions that are as environmentally-friendly as possible and realistic enough for the olive mills to implement.


Indicative Work Packages

Activity 1: Project background and OMW valorization review

1.1.Analysis of OMW management existing status

1.2.Overview of legal framework

1.3.Technological benchmark

Activity 2: Performance of different OMW treatment techniques and development of uniform treatment processes

2.1. Comparison of OMW treatment technologies, harmonizing OMW screening procedures and water quality parameters. Overview of legal framework

2.2. OMW screening

2.3. Analyses of OMW screening tests

Activity 3: Pilot demonstrations

3.1. Designing and setting-up of pilot plants

3.2. Training of personnel

3.3. Pilot testing 1st milling campaign

3.4. Pilot testing 2nd milling campaign

Activity 4: Feasibility and evaluation of OMW by-products recovery

4.1. By-product recovery and evaluation

Activity 5: Economic evaluation of the proposed solutions

5.1. Economic evaluation of existing OMW processes

5.2. Economic evaluation of OMW processes tested in the project

5.3. Evaluation of overall economic and environmental benefits

Activity 6: Project dissemination and visibility

6.1. Design of the project’s logo

6.2. Design and development of the project’s website and continuous update

6.3. Setting up a list of stakeholders and target groups

6.4. Sparking media involvement and announcements in newspapers