Oli-PHA project: developing novel biopolymers from olive mill wastewaters
Industry representatives from the olive processing, plastics, packaging, food, engineering and environmental sectors from two continents have joined forces with leading Research Institutes and Universities from Europe and Latin America to commence a timely and ambitious three years research project into the cultivation of bioplastics (polyhydroxyalkanoates) from olive mill wastewaters (OMWW). The Oli-PHA project was launched at the IRIS facilities in the Parc Mediterrani de la Tecnologia of Castelldefels, Barcelona, on June 11th and 12th, 2012.
Europe is the most important olive oil producing region in the world, with Spain leading with 46% of global olive oil production; Italy, with 18%; and Greece, with 12%, according to the International Olive Council. Latin America is another major producing region. Despite the undisputed nutritional and health benefits associated with olive oil consumption, its production process has a huge environmental impact, especially in relation to the highly polluting residues. Beyond food packaging, it is expected that the Oli-PHA bioplastics will also have potential for use in other sectors (News Item IRIS, 12 June 2012).