Soon you may be able to buy olive oil in bioplastic bottles made from a compound found in olive skins, thanks to the work of a Spanish researcher.

Jesús Zorrilla has found a way to extract PHAs (poly-hydroxy-alcanoates) from the residues of olive skins, which in turn can be used to make plastic containers that are non-toxic and 100 percent biodegradable.

According to a press release from Jaen’s Sierra de Segura, an olive oil denomination of origin, Zorrilla used byproducts from one of the D.O.’s olive oil mills to develop the compound.

Not only would the bioplastic containers be suitable for food, they would be ideal for olive oil, “because unlike conventional plastic bottles derived from petroleum, they avoid any risk of carcinogenic polymers migrating into the oil,” the D.O. said. They also have factors that protect oil from oxidation caused by exposure to light.

“Furthermore, this new bioplastic would provide a way to make use of the olive skin residue from olive oil production, which currently has no economic value.”

“An olive oil mill which processes about 10,000 tons of olives a year could obtain 30,000 kilos of bioplastic, which would bring in additional revenue of €200,000 ($268,000).”

Patent development is underway and Zorrilla is keen to hear from any companies involved in packaging or research and development that might be interested in helping finance the remaining phase.

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