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Developing a DST for Olive Oil Production

This project aims at developing a decision support tool (DST) for the adoption of the appropriate processes throughout the life cycle of olive oil, in order to promote its eco-efficient production in three major olive oil producing areas: Voukolies (Greece), Lythrodontas (Cyprus) and Navarra (Spain). This aim will be achieved through Life Cycle Analysis, a technique for assessing the environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product over its life cycle.
The preceding first task of this project recorded and assessed the existing situation in regards to relevant legislation, current agricultural practices as well as the wider use of the LCA technique. More specifically, the EU, national (Greek, Cypriot and Spanish) and international legislation and standards related to agricultural practices and operation of industries as well as the environmental management systems ISO and EMAS, were identified, examined and reported. Furthermore, the existing situation regarding the production cycle of olive oil, olive cultivation, olive oil milling processes and olive oil mill waste generation and management in the areas under examination was assessed. Finally, a number of case studies, which illustrate the application of the LCA methodology to various industrial processes, were reviewed and described.
The project is currently through its second task. In the first part of this task, the general Life Cycle Assessment methodology as defined by relevant standards and guideline documents was examined, described, explained and reported. This report covers the rest of the actions foreseen in the project’s second task, i.e. the development of the framework for the LCA for olive oil and the construction of an appropriate model for the analysis, providing the strategic inputs for subsequent steps such as the Life Cycle Inventory Analysis and Impact Assessment.
This report is divided into five main sections/ chapters. This introductory first chapter reviews the work already done and reported in this project and outlines the work covered by this report.
The second and third chapters of this report define the goal and scope of the study respectively in accordance to the relevant provisions of ISO 14041 (1998). In particular the third chapter defines the system boundary, sets and justifies the functional unit, decides methodological issues in regards to allocation procedures, identifies relevant impact categories, sets a plan for the collection of data, discusses the limitations and assumptions of the study and specifies the format of final reporting. This is probably the most decisive part of the LCA methodology, as it will guide the entire process to ensure that the most meaningful results are obtained. Lessons learnt from the review of previous studies suggest that every decision made throughout the goal definition and scoping phase affects both the manner the study will be conducted and the relevance of the final results.
In the third stage of this project the life cycle inventory of olive oil will be analysed. This will be achieved through the development of a model of the complex technical system that is used to produce the product studied. This consists of a process tree with all the relevant processes connected by flows of intermediate products. For each process, all the relevant flows in and out of the process will be recorded and based on mass and energy balance formulation the total flows into and out of the system will be determined. Then, in the fourth stage of the project, impact assessment, a different model of an environmental mechanism will be used to describe the relevance of inputs and outputs so that the inventory result can be translated into a number of potential environmental impacts. Both of these models will be developed using the standard LCA software SimaPro, version 6. In the fourth chapter of this report the skeleton of these models is built and described by taking the fundamental decisions and importing basic input. Furthermore, in the same chapter, the logistics used by SimaPro to analyse the models during the inventory analysis and the impact assessment are explored and described. In regards to impact assessment, alternative assessment models are discussed and an informed choice of one or more suitable impact assessment methods is made.
Finally, all sources used in this report are referenced in the fifth section of this report.
  LIFE 04/ENV/GR/000110