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Newspaper " Ypethros xwra" : The innovative mentality that brought the circular economy to Alexandroupolis
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Newspaper " Ypethros xwra" : The innovative mentality that brought the circular economy to Alexandroupolis

An olive mill in Makri, Alexandroupolis, Northern Greece has broken with the established mentality that olive mills only produce olive oil. The Kelidis family’s Kyklopas Olive Mill, besides olive oil produces also heat energy and fertilizer, since it has managed to utilize every by-product of the process. With the mindset that nothing should be thrown away, the Kelidis family exploits the wastewater, the leaves and the olive kernel, reducing their cost and increasing the quality of the final product, while creating their own compost as extra fertilizer.

Valia Kelidou, the eldest daughter of the family, agronomist and public relations manager of the company, explains the process of producing energy and fertilizer from the remnants of the mill. "The mill operates in three phases. There is the oil, the wastewater and the pit. Until a few years ago, we collected by-products in tanks, which remained unused. With the establishment of the Biogas energy plant in Komotini, the wastewater is transported there by truck for the production of electricity from methane, which is then channelled into the national electricity grid. Even the by-product of this process is utilized as it returns to our fields as organic fertilizer. Farmers from Komotini and the surrounding areas also buy this fertilizer for their own fields, so it all returns to the earth.

Energy from olive pits

The third by-product of the mill, the pit, is used for the production of not only pomace oil, but also for the heating of the mill itself. "The olive pits are transported by truck to a pomace olive oil mill in Larissa for the production of pomace oil, with a small amount being dried there and then returned to us to be used as heating fuel. In other words, we heat the factory with pits," says Ms Kelidou.

Olive leaves

As mentioned, the Kelidis family doesn't let anything go to waste. This includes the leaves from the olives, which are gathered and given to farmers in the area who use them as animal feed. In addition, some leaves are mixed with olive pits to make compost, which is also used by the family as fertilizer.

The family's decision to follow the aforementioned procedures comes directly from their ecological consciousness. As Ms Kelidou points out, "the whole setting up of the company is based on this logic. Everything works on the basis of this attitude and nothing is thrown away in the entire process."

Benefits

The benefits from the practice of a circular economy followed by Kyklopas Olive Mill are both economic and qualitative. In particular, Ms Kelidou says that "we have reduced the cost of both fertilizers and energy, while our final product is much more pure, because we do not use chemicals. So we have a very high quality product, but also reduced costs, as we exploit what is produced through this cycle."


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