Olive oil production generates considerable amounts of waste, including the process of removing pits. A new project launched by Spanish plastics technology center AIMPLAS is now looking at the feasibility of using the pits to make a new bioplastic.
The project is a collaborative effort together with Olivarera Los Pedroches, or OLIPE, a cooperative of olive oil producers in Andalusia, Spain.
As the world’s leading olive oil producer, olive pits, also known as stones, are a well-known waste product in Spain and today are mainly disposed of through incineration for energy recovery.
Dubbed Go-Oliva, the aim of the project is to find a high value-added application for this waste by producing a new sustainable packaging material for oil and oil products. The project partners came up with Oliplast, a new biodegradable, compostable plastic material derived from renewable sources.
Specifically, the new material will be made with an olive pit filler or reinforcement and a thermoplastic material. The new material will be suitable for extrusion or injection processing technologies to mold new products such as trays and plates to hold bottles, as well as caps for packaging containers for cosmetic creams made with olive oil.
To date, the project has focussed on selecting raw materials and developing an olive stone that can be used to obtain the new material. The next step will be to perform a behavioral study so the material can be validated for transformation processes. Finally, an environmental study will be carried out to determine the material’s compostability.