Circular transformation of olive stones to barbecue briquettes | Knowledge Hub | Circle Lab
Business case
Circular transformation of olive stones to barbecue briquettes

Our small family-owned business, for more than 50 years, uses locally available crushed olive stones (called exhausted olive pomace) as a carbon-neutral fuel, that are fired with crushed limestone to produce quicklime (calcium oxide), an important chemical with many agricultural, construction and environmental applications. The partially-combusted olive stones remaining in the kiln, are then collected and compacted in moulds to create a slow-burning barbecue briquettes. Also, leftover ash from the burning of these briquettes can also been used as a fertilizer or soil enhancer.


Energy demand is growing while the planet is heating up. The resolution of that apparent contradictory challenge lies in greater energy efficiency and an increase in renewable supply. The renewable sector has doubled in output between 2008 - 2019, but still only provides about 11% of total global energy demand. The further expansion should include consideration of carbon-neutral bioenergy fuels, such as the potential that lies in agricultural residues. Also, by destroying the forests, human activities like the production of wood charcoal are putting entire ecosystems in danger, creating natural imbalances.


We manage to recover energy from the by-products of locally grown olive trees and offer a carbon-neutral fuel alternative for industrial processes and in addition we create a new by-product which is replacing wood charcoal.


The by-product of olive oil production (called exhausted olive pomace) has a high calorific value. Recovering this energy, in particular from the olive stones has great potential as a carbon-neutral alternative, replace some of the environmentally damaging production of wood charcoal, much of which is illegal.

Additional information

The role of the bio-based products as alternatives to fossil-fuel counterparts, and their importance in developing a sustainable economy based on renewable materials in Europe, has been recognized in the EU 2020 strategy and in the “Innovating for Sustainable Growth: A Bioeconomy for Europe” strategy.

Also according to the conclusion of the Foresight Brief of UN environment programme on 2022 with the subject “Charcoal as a global commodity: is it sustainable?”:

“Charcoal is a ubiquitous global commodity, and its demand can undoubtedly be decoupled from poverty. Despite strategies in several countries to transform or supplant the international wood charcoal trade, this resource has sustained a potent, albeit unacknowledged and under-documented path, enabling it to aggressively compete with modern energy alternatives. Global wood charcoal production has increased for decades, and remains an important domestic energy source for low and middle income countries, emphasizing both its longstanding and resuming relevance. Therefore, innovation and policies aimed at producing charcoal from organic waste materials are urgently required to prevent further forest degradation and loss of biodiversity, and to increase the sustainability of this material.”

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