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New Tanning Chemicals from Olive mill Wastewater

Olive mill wastewater (OMWW) derives from olive oil production, after the separation of olive oil from water and plant washing operations. Presently OMWW represents a problem for olive oil producers because it is a wastewater for disposal, even if also the spreading on soil is allowed under certain limitations. OMWW volumes are huge because they are represent 80-100% the weight of milled olives. Only in Tuscany in the years 2011-2012 around 50.000-100.000 ton of OMWW were produced during the milling seasons.
OMWW are mainly composed by water, suspended solid, mineral salts and organic substances, like low and high molecular weight phenolic compounds as tannins. Among low molecular compounds hydroxy-tyrosol, oleuropein and caffeic acid, having high antioxidant strength were identified. Hydroxy-tyrosol can represent nearly 50% of total phenols and it is recognized as the most powerful antioxidants in nature, nearly 10 times than green tea and two times CoQ10.


Considering the high innovation potential of OMWW, the goal of CONCIAVO project was to develop a new business idea based on the collection and treatment of OMWW for its valorization from waste to raw material, and its use for developing new compounds for tanning and retanning processes.


CONCIAVO project during its lifetime achieved the following objectives:

• Develop a new treatment process aimed at enriching the antioxidant and tanning phenolic fraction of OMWW;
• Develop a new class of tanning products based on treated OMWW;
• Use treated OMWW and the related derived products to develop new tanning and retanning processes;
• Develop new metal-free & chrome VI-free leather articles destined to footwear, leather goods and clothing.

The project activities lead to a patent application related to OMWW enrichment treatment and to a patent application related to OMWW (and derived product) use in the tannery industry.
On these bases project partners started-up in August 2016 a newco named TANNOW srl, whose core business is the commercialization of tannery chemicals deriving from OMWW.
In terms of promotion and dissemination of project results CONCIAVO was presented in November 2016 at the international workshop held in Pisa by CNR, titled ““Workshop on waste valorization as raw material in packaging and agricultural material preparation”, as best practices on agrifood waste reuse.