The olive oil industry is a significant productive sector in the European Union and the related production process is characterised by practices and techniques associated with several adverse effects on the environment. In the literature, many works on the environmental impact assessment of the olive oil chain have been carried out but the effects of the analytical analyses procedures were considered to be negligible. Currently, the reduction of solvents and of energy consumption in the laboratory has become a crucial aspect to be investigated. In this scenario, non-destructive optical methods based on visible/near-infrared (vis/NIR) spectroscopy represent a simple, rapid, and easy-to-use method to predict olive and olive oil quality parameters. Therefore, the aim of the work was to evaluate the environmental impact of the use of optical vis/NIR technologies for analytical assessment in comparison to chemical analyses on olive oil. The life cycle assessment method (LCA) was used. The functional unit defined for this study was the analysis and a “from cradle to grave” approach was applied. The vis/NIR technology results were distinctly better, by 36 times on average, than the chemical methods. Attention must be paid to the calibration phase of the vis/NIR instrumentation: In this case, the two methods must coexist for this initial procedure to obtain the required reference data for a reliable chemometric model. In conclusion, the vis/NIR spectroscopy gives very reliable results and can be considered a green technology, representing a choice among applications of low environmental impact analytical technologies.
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