Environmental Management

, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 277–294 | Cite as

Tackling the Relevance of Packaging in Life Cycle Assessment of Virgin Olive Oil and the Environmental Consequences of Regulation

  • Alejandra Navarro
  • Rita PuigEmail author
  • Elena Martí
  • Alba Bala
  • Pere Fullana-i-Palmer


Production and consumption of olive oil is very important in Europe, being this product a basic element in the Mediterranean diet since long ago. The project objective is two-fold: a study of the contribution of virgin olive oils (VOOs) usual packaging to the whole life cycle of the product and a study of the environmental consequences of the Spanish Government regulation on VOO packaging. A life cycle assessment (LCA) according to ISO 14044 has been performed using the CML methodology for the impact assessment. The results show that the packaging influence varies from 2 to 300%, depending on the impact category and type of packaging (glass, tin or polyethylene terephtalate). Glass, which is related to higher quality perception by consumers, was found to be the most influencing material (due to its weight); however, this impact may be fairly reduced by applying ecodesign strategies (such as weight reduction and recycled-glass percentage increase). A new Spanish regulation on the mandatory use of non-refillable oilers in HORECA establishments (hotels, restaurants and caterings) aims to provide more quality assurance and better information to consumers; however, it was also found to mean a 74% increase in greenhouse gases emissions. This regulation was deeply discussed at European level and its application was withdraw due to consumers rejection, except for Spain. The findings of the present case study show that LCA and ecodesign should be important tools to be promoted and applied in policy making to reduce non-desirable consequences of regulation.


Carbon footprint Ecodesign Policy making Glass Tin and polyethylene terephtalate 



No specific funding has been received to perform the present study. We are very grateful to the 20 restaurants which have participated in data collection filling in inventory questionnaires. We are responsible for the choice and presentation of information contained in this paper, as well as for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of UNESCO and do not commit this Organization.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

267_2018_1021_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
Supplementary Information


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GIR, Escola d’Enginyeria d’Igualada (EEI)Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC, Barcelona tech)IgualadaSpain
  2. 2.UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change (ESCI-UPF)BarcelonaSpain

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