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The Commission recognises the EU’s dependency on imports for fertilisers, impacting farmers’ costs and food insecurity, and the strategic need for organic fertilisers, green ammonia and nutrient recycling, alongside sustainable and precision farming, to improve nutrient use efficiency and reduce losses.

Actions announced include:

  • Use CAP (Common Agriculture Policy) Member State Strategic Plans to support efficient and sustainable fertiliser use whilst preventing nutrient losses, including rollout of the FaST tool (Farm Sustainability Tool for Nutrients): “CAP Strategic Plans support partial replacements of mineral fertilisers by organic fertilisers like manure, sewage sludge and biowaste, from methanisation processes or biological and thermal treatments, while ensuring that this does not result in higher nutrient losses
  • Organic and recycled fertilisers: “Better access to organic fertilisers and nutrients from recycled waste-streams, especially in regions with a low usage of organic fertilisers
  • Support for Green Ammonia (from renewable energies, not from natural gas)

ESPP welcomes the recognition of the importance of organic and recycled fertilisers, as well as improving fertiliser use and calls for strong EU action to support these be included in the Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan under preparation for 2023. ESPP underlines that the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium present in organic waste streams (manure, sewage biosolids, food wastes, animal by-products) are in total significantly greater that used in mineral fertilisers, and potential for increasing recycling is considerable.

The European fertilisers industry (Fertilizers Europe, 9th November 2022) has underlined the need to optimise nutrient use, in particular with the EU FaST tool and precision fertiliser practices, and called for “measures to support the transition to a low-carbon fertilizer industry”.

ESPP welcomes the possibility to require nutrient recycling in the proposed revision of the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (published 26th October 2022) and calls for this requirement to be rapidly implemented. This should also be included in the Sewage Sludge Directive revision underway. Germany and Switzerland already have regulatory phosphorus recycling obligations; and now also Austria.

ESPP notes the recognition in the Communication of the  importance of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009 to open the market for recovered fertilisers and for “Specialty EU fertilising products such as inhibited fertilisers, controlled release fertilisers and plant biostimulants”.  ESPP calls to accelerate removal of legal obstacles to recycling of nutrients from animal by-products (ABP), where these are confirmed to be safe, such as Cat.1 ABP incineration ash. We call on the Commission to mandate rapidly EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) to assess the safety of these materials.

ESPP welcomes the announced aim of improving fertiliser use of manure and processed manure in compliance with the Nitrates Directive. ESPP notes the Commission’s clarification that proposed JRC “RENURE” processed manure materials (see ESPP eNews n°47) with potential ammonia emissions should continue to be subject to strict Nitrates Directive application requirements. ESPP underlines that it should be recognised that mineral fertilisers recovered from manure do not have ammonia emission or leaching risks different from fossil-derived mineral fertilisers, and should not be considered as “processed manure” (similarly for biomass grown using manure as a substrate), see ESPP eNews n°71.

The Nutrient Circular Economy, increasing nutrient recycling and organic fertilisers, alongside Nutrient Use Efficiency and green ammonia, are the only way out of EU import dependency for fertilisers, and so are critical to ensure food security, farmer livelihoods and to limit food inflation.

ESPP calls for clear regulatory actions and fiscal or market incentives to support nutrient recycling in the upcoming Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan.

2nd European Summit of the Organic Fertilisers Industry in Europe (SOFIE), 17-18 January 2023, Brussels and online www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SOFIE2023

European Commission Communication “Ensuring availability and affordability of fertilisers”, COM(2022) 590, 9th November 2022 here and press release / Q&A / summary here.

The European Commission has published draft revisions of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD 91/271), adding the objective of nutrient recovery and tightening phosphorus removal requirements for sewage worksThis regulatory proposal now goes to discussion in the European Parliament and Council.

The Commission’s Explanatory Memorandum indicates that the evaluation of the UWWTD concluded that it has been successful in improving water quality, largely because of clear and simple requirements. The indicated objectives of the revision are to address emerging pollutants, storm overflow and discharges from small villages and isolated households, and to ensure coherence with Green Deal climate, biomethane production and Circular Economy objectives, in particular “better recovery of nitrogen, phosphorus and maybe organics”. Implementation deadlines are phased through to 2040.

The Commission estimates that overall the new requirements will add c. 2.3% to water tariffs.

Proposed changes from the existing Directive include:

  • More stringent discharge limits for phosphorus and nitrogen (Annex I)
    - 0.5 mgPtotal/l or 90% P removal, or (was 1-2 mgl/ or 80%)
    - 6 mgN/l or 85%N removal (was 10-15 mg/l or 70-80%)
    - these limits would be applicable (as before) to all wwtps > 10 000 p.e. in eutrophication Sensitive Areas,
    but additionally would be applicable to wwtps > 100 000 p.e. even if not in Sensitive Areas.
    - the concept of Less Sensitive Areas would be abolished (required less treatment)
  • “The Commission would be empowered to adopt delegated act … (to set out) minimum reuse and recycling rates for phosphorus and nitrogen from sludge” (art. 20)
    ESPP notes:
    - the Explanatory Memorandum refers to “nutrients and maybe organic carbon” but in fact this is limited to N and P
    - the wording “reuse and recycling” could include valorisation of sludge in agriculture
    - the minimum rates, by this wording, would apply to N and P in the sludge, not in wwtp inflow, which would be particularly different for N. It also would not take account of nutrients recovered upstream, e.g. with separative urine collection.
  • Waste water treatments would have to be “energy neutral” by 2040. Energy neutrality is defined as “total renewable energy produced at wwtps” versus total energy used by the plants. Calculation is as national total, not per wwtp.
    ESPP note: this is very different from climate neutrality, in that wwtp NOx, N2O and CH4 emissions are not taken into account, nor are emissions in sludge management outside the wwtp, nor are climate impacts of nutrient recovery (substituted fertilisers), nor carbon sequestration in sewage sludge to land. Indeed, the wording could be read as considering that installation of a number of wind turbines on wwtp sites would be sufficient.
  • Collection and treatment of wastewater for all agglomerations > 1 000 p.e. (was 2 000 p.e.) (art. 3.2, 6.2)
  • A new concept of “Quaternary treatment” is introduced. (art. 8 and Annex I). This requires at least 80% removal of indicator organic pollutants. It would be obligatory for all wwtps > 100 000 p.e. and for all wwtps > 10 000 p.e where a pollution risk is identified, or discharging into bathing waters, etc.
  • Extended producer responsibility” (EPR) would be implemented for pharmaceuticals and cosmetics only, such that companies placing these on the market must cover the full costs of monitoring and quaternary treatment (art.9, Annex III)
    ESPP note: this EPR does not thus cover industrial chemicals such as PFAS, plastic additives, nor agro-chemicals.
  • The Commission would develop a methodology for measuring microplastics in wastewater and in sludge, and then these would have to be monitored in wwtps > 10 000 p.e. (art. 21)
  • Promote water reuse (art. 15)
  • A new concept of “Integrated urban wastewater management plans” would be obligatory for all agglomerations > 100 000 p.e. and all > 10 000 p.e. where stormwater or urban runoff meet certain conditions (art. 5, Annex V)
  • New definitions of “sludge”, “micro-pollutant”, “antimicrobial resistance” …(art. 2)

NOTE: above obligations are the proposed final requirement, in some cases intermediate levels are fixed for certain date horizons. The articles/annexes cited refer to the revision proposal as published (not to the numbering in the existing 1991 Directive). The above is in many cases a simplification, please refer to the published regulatory proposal for precise detail.

The Commission also published at the same time modifications of the Environmental Quality Standards, Groundwater and Water Framework Directives are proposed. These concern chemical pollutants in water, and in particular address “emerging contaminants of concern” including PFAS, microplastics and pharmaceuticals.

ESPP welcomes these proposals as ambitious and pragmatic to continue to improve Europe’s water quality, to further limit phosphorus and nitrogen losses, to move towards the Nutrient Circular Economy and to address emerging pollutants, in particular PFAS, pharmaceuticals and micro-plastics.

European Commission “Proposal for a revised Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive”, 26th October 2022 https://environment.ec.europa.eu/publications/proposal-revised-urban-wastewater-treatment-directive_en

European Commission “Proposal for a Directive amending the Water Framework Directive, the Groundwater Directive and the Environmental Quality Standards Directive”, 26th October 2022 https://environment.ec.europa.eu/publications/proposal-amending-water-directives_en

INCOPA-Cefic press release 27th October 2022.

The European Commission has published for consultation to 21/11/2022 proposed authorisation of recovered struvite and precipitated phosphates in certified Organic production. The proposed wording is as per the EGTOP Opinion of June 2022, see ESPP eNews n°69, and would modify the annexes of the EU Organic Farming Regulation (2021/1165) to include: Recovered struvite and precipitated phosphate salts: products must meet the requirements laid down in Regulation (EU) 2019/1009, animal manure as source material cannot have factory farming origin. Also as indicated in the eNews, wording concerning compost and digestate of bio-waste is modified.

Questions posed by this wording include: does “meet the requirements” of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/2009 mean that the FPR Conformity Assessment is necessary as per FPR Annex IV? Does this refer only to the specifications of Annex II CMC12, or also of Annex I PFCs  and Annex III labelling ? What is the definition of “factory farming” – does this include livestock in stables for part of the year? Does this also cover “derivates” of precipitated phosphates as defined in the FPR CMC 12?

ESPP will also request that further recycled materials currently not authorised in Organic production: Renewable calcined phosphates (cf. positive EGTOP Opinion 2016 (“Final Report on Fertilisers II”) and waste ash derived nutrients (phosphorus from sewage sludge incineration ashes, potassium from municipal solid waste ashes …), Recovered elemental sulphur, Bio-sourced adsorbents used to treat wastewaters, Phosphorus-rich pyrolysis and gasification materials (inc. biochars), Algae and algae products grown to treat wastewater. Vivianite, Recovered nitrogen from off-gases..

Any individual or organisation can contribute to this public consultation.

Public consultation on amendment to the EU Organic Farming Regulation. Open to 21st November 2022

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews071
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Summit of Organic and Organo-Mineral Fertilisers Industries in Europe (SOFIE2)
Brussels & hybrid, 17-18 January 2023

First workshop on Nitrogen Recovery
Brussels & hybrid, 19 January 2023

ESPP new member
HOLCIM

EU Regulatory
Consultation on inclusion of precipitated phosphates in Organic Farming
EU consultation on Critical Raw Materials
CAP monitoring and evaluation rules cover nutrients
Draft revision of EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive
ESPP input on Animal By-Products (ABPs) in fertilisers

Policy perspectives
European Commission sees nutrient recycling as part of fertiliser crisis strategy
EU risk assessment of sewage sludge contaminants
ESPP asks EU to define when mineral chemicals cease to be “processed manure”

Research
“Planetary Boundaries” for nitrogen inputs for Europe
Agricultural phosphorus deficits in Romania
High diet phosphorus and calcium increases blood pressure in rats

Sewage sludge quality certification questionnaire

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

 

 

 

Summit of Organic and Organo-Mineral Fertilisers Industries in Europe (SOFIE2)

 

sofie2 newsBrussels & hybrid, 17-18 January 2023

How organic and organo-mineral fertiliser products and technologies deliver specific agronomic performance characteristics for farmers’ needs. The event is being co-organised by ESPP, ECOFI, Eurofema and Fertilizers Europe, with support of the International Fertiliser Society.

Speakers already include: European Commission - Chiel Tettelaar, EFCI Register - Harald Mikkelsen, Koppert - Emma Burak, Yara - Francisco Morell, ICL Fertilizers - Peter Hammond, CCm - Maurice Evers, Lumbricus.nl - Mark Kragting, Tema Process  - Thijs Kapteijns, Protix  - Verena Pfahler, German Biogas Federation - Laia Llenas Argelaguet, BETA Technological Center / Fertimanure  - Leon Fock, Eurofema

SOFIE2 - 2nd Summit of the Organic and organo-mineral Fertilisers Industries in Europe, Brussels Renaissance Marriott Hotel, 19 rue de Parnasse, & hybrid, 17-18 January 2023 www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SOFIE2023

 

 

First workshop on Nitrogen Recovery

n recovery newsBrussels & hybrid, 19 January 2023

www.phosphorusplatform.eu/NRecovery

This workshop will be open, for physical participation in Brussels, to invited participants only whereas online access is open. This is necessary to enable an operational working meeting.

Information and registration online (hybrid) www.phosphorusplatform.eu/NRecovery

Participation in Brussels: contact Olivier Bastin, ESPP

 

 

ESPP new member

Holcim_Logo_2021_sRGB_Dark_Blue.jpgHOLCIM

The cement industry sees continuing recovery of energy and minerals from sewage sludge and other waste streams as compatible with phosphorus recycling, and HOLCIM’s Geocycle waste management services aim to take this forward.

HOLCIM is a global international leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions. Main business segments are cement, concrete, aggregates, and roofing solutions. Sustainability is at the core of Holcim’s strategy, with the industry’s first 2030 and 2050 net-zero targets, validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Leading the circular economy, we already recycled in 2021 more than 50 million tons of materials across our business and will reach 75 million tons (including 10 million tons of construction & demolition waste) by 2025, maintaining our place as a world leader in recycling. See the HOLCIM sustainability report

HOLCIM’s Geocycle activity provides services to recover waste from other industries or municipalities by integrating them in our production processes. For instance, a cement kiln is a very efficient tool to recover mineral based or energy containing waste materials.

Every year hundreds of thousand tons of sewage sludge are co-processed in cement kilns. HOLCIM aims to play an active role in the sustainable management of phosphorus and is investigating technologies to recover phosphorus in synergy with our operations. We believe in cooperation, promoting knowledge exchange and looking for partnerships.

http://www.geocycle.com/  

 

 

EU Regulatory

 

Consultation on inclusion of precipitated phosphates in Organic Farming

The European Commission has published for consultation to 21/11/2022 proposed authorisation of recovered struvite and precipitated phosphates in certified Organic production. The proposed wording is as per the EGTOP Opinion of June 2022, see ESPP eNews n°69, and would modify the annexes of the EU Organic Farming Regulation (2021/1165) to include: Recovered struvite and precipitated phosphate salts: products must meet the requirements laid down in Regulation (EU) 2019/1009, animal manure as source material cannot have factory farming origin. Also as indicated in the eNews, wording concerning compost and digestate of bio-waste is modified.

Questions posed by this wording include: does “meet the requirements” of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/2009 mean that the FPR Conformity Assessment is necessary as per FPR Annex IV? Does this refer only to the specifications of Annex II CMC12, or also of Annex I PFCs  and Annex III labelling ? What is the definition of “factory farming” – does this include livestock in stables for part of the year? Does this also cover “derivates” of precipitated phosphates as defined in the FPR CMC 12?

ESPP will also request that further recycled materials currently not authorised in Organic production: Renewable calcined phosphates (cf. positive EGTOP Opinion 2016 (“Final Report on Fertilisers II”) and waste ash derived nutrients (phosphorus from sewage sludge incineration ashes, potassium from municipal solid waste ashes …), Recovered elemental sulphur, Bio-sourced adsorbents used to treat wastewaters, Phosphorus-rich pyrolysis and gasification materials (inc. biochars), Algae and algae products grown to treat wastewater. Vivianite, Recovered nitrogen from off-gases..

Any individual or organisation can contribute to this public consultation.

Public consultation on amendment to the EU Organic Farming Regulation. Open to 21st November 2022

 

EU consultation on Critical Raw Materials

Public consultation open to 25th November 2022 towards a future EU Regulation on Critical Raw Materials (CRMs). At this stage, the consultation concerns an outline roadmap, with a general questionnaire on policies and priorities.

EU public consultation “European Critical Raw Materials act”. Open to 25th November 2022

 

CAP monitoring and evaluation rules cover nutrients

The EU has adopted rules for monitoring and evaluation of CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) “Strategic Plans” (Member States orientate CAP farm subsidies), including nutrient losses and balances and ammonia emissions. Key evaluation elements specified include nutrient balance (indicating that this is to reduce nutrient losses), ammonia emissions, food quality, climate change, biodiversity, ecosystem services, competitiveness and farm incomes. Two of the nine specified “Impact Indicators” are air quality – ammonia emissions and water quality – “gross nutrient balance on agricultural land”. These specifications apply at the Member State level. At the farm level, calculation of nutrient balances (FaST tool, see ????) was removed from CAP subsidy conditions during the Parliament-Council co-decision process but is included the CAP Advisory Service (see revised CAP 2021/2115 art. 15(4)g.

Commission Implementing Regulation 2022/1475, 6 September 2022, “as regards the evaluation of the CAP Strategic Plans and the provision of information for monitoring and evaluation” LINK on Eur-Lex.

 

 

Draft revision of EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive

The European Commission has published draft revisions of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD 91/271), adding the objective of nutrient recovery and tightening phosphorus removal requirements for sewage works. This regulatory proposal now goes to discussion in the European Parliament and Council.

The Commission’s Explanatory Memorandum indicates that the evaluation of the UWWTD concluded that it has been successful in improving water quality, largely because of clear and simple requirements. The indicated objectives of the revision are to address emerging pollutants, storm overflow and discharges from small villages and isolated households, and to ensure coherence with Green Deal climate, biomethane production and Circular Economy objectives, in particular “better recovery of nitrogen, phosphorus and maybe organics”. Implementation deadlines are phased through to 2040.

The Commission estimates that overall the new requirements will add c. 2.3% to water tariffs.

Proposed changes from the existing Directive include:

  • More stringent discharge limits for phosphorus and nitrogen (Annex I)
    - 0.5 mgPtotal/l or 90% P removal, or (was 1-2 mgl/ or 80%)
    - 6 mgN/l or 85%N removal (was 10-15 mg/l or 70-80%)
    - these limits would be applicable (as before) to all wwtps > 10 000 p.e. in eutrophication Sensitive Areas,
    but additionally would be applicable to wwtps > 100 000 p.e. even if not in Sensitive Areas.
    - the concept of Less Sensitive Areas would be abolished (required less treatment)
  • “The Commission would be empowered to adopt delegated act … (to set out) minimum reuse and recycling rates for phosphorus and nitrogen from sludge” (art. 20)
    ESPP notes:
    - the Explanatory Memorandum refers to “nutrients and maybe organic carbon” but in fact this is limited to N and P
    - the wording “reuse and recycling” could include valorisation of sludge in agriculture
    - the minimum rates, by this wording, would apply to N and P in the sludge, not in wwtp inflow, which would be particularly different for N. It also would not take account of nutrients recovered upstream, e.g. with separative urine collection.
  • Waste water treatments would have to be “energy neutral” by 2040. Energy neutrality is defined as “total renewable energy produced at wwtps” versus total energy used by the plants. Calculation is as national total, not per wwtp.
    ESPP note: this is very different from climate neutrality, in that wwtp NOx, N2O and CH4 emissions are not taken into account, nor are emissions in sludge management outside the wwtp, nor are climate impacts of nutrient recovery (substituted fertilisers), nor carbon sequestration in sewage sludge to land. Indeed, the wording could be read as considering that installation of a number of wind turbines on wwtp sites would be sufficient.
  • Collection and treatment of wastewater for all agglomerations > 1 000 p.e. (was 2 000 p.e.) (art. 3.2, 6.2)
  • A new concept of “Quaternary treatment” is introduced. (art. 8 and Annex I). This requires at least 80% removal of indicator organic pollutants. It would be obligatory for all wwtps > 100 000 p.e. and for all wwtps > 10 000 p.e where a pollution risk is identified, or discharging into bathing waters, etc.
  • Extended producer responsibility” (EPR) would be implemented for pharmaceuticals and cosmetics only, such that companies placing these on the market must cover the full costs of monitoring and quaternary treatment (art.9, Annex III)
    ESPP note: this EPR does not thus cover industrial chemicals such as PFAS, plastic additives, nor agro-chemicals.
  • The Commission would develop a methodology for measuring microplastics in wastewater and in sludge, and then these would have to be monitored in wwtps > 10 000 p.e. (art. 21)
  • Promote water reuse (art. 15)
  • A new concept of “Integrated urban wastewater management plans” would be obligatory for all agglomerations > 100 000 p.e. and all > 10 000 p.e. where stormwater or urban runoff meet certain conditions (art. 5, Annex V)
  • New definitions of “sludge”, “micro-pollutant”, “antimicrobial resistance” …(art. 2)

NOTE: above obligations are the proposed final requirement, in some cases intermediate levels are fixed for certain date horizons. The articles/annexes cited refer to the revision proposal as published (not to the numbering in the existing 1991 Directive). The above is in many cases a simplification, please refer to the published regulatory proposal for precise detail.

The Commission also published at the same time modifications of the Environmental Quality Standards, Groundwater and Water Framework Directives are proposed. These concern chemical pollutants in water, and in particular address “emerging contaminants of concern” including PFAS, microplastics and pharmaceuticals.

ESPP welcomes these proposals as ambitious and pragmatic to continue to improve Europe’s water quality, to further limit phosphorus and nitrogen losses, to move towards the Nutrient Circular Economy and to address emerging pollutants, in particular PFAS, pharmaceuticals and micro-plastics.

European Commission “Proposal for a revised Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive”, 26th October 2022 https://environment.ec.europa.eu/publications/proposal-revised-urban-wastewater-treatment-directive_en

European Commission “Proposal for a Directive amending the Water Framework Directive, the Groundwater Directive and the Environmental Quality Standards Directive”, 26th October 2022 https://environment.ec.europa.eu/publications/proposal-amending-water-directives_en

INCOPA-Cefic press release 27th October 2022.

 


ESPP input on Animal By-Products (ABPs) in fertilisers

ESPP input to the public consultation underlining the importance of accelerating regulatory authorisation of recognised safe ABPs in fertilisers, without unjustified mixing or packaging requirements.  ESPP regrets that DG SANTE’s first, minimalist, proposals arrive more than six years after the regulatory proposal for the EU Fertilising Products Regulation was published by the European Commission (at the time with an “empty box” for ABPs) and that these proposals do not cover a number of significant routes for recycling ABP nutrients which have been operated safely for many years in Member States national fertilisers. ESPP suggests that the proposed dilution requirements and sales in < 50 kg packets would largely prevent use of ABPs in EU-fertilisers, would generate unnecessary packaging waste and costs and are not justified (not mentioned in the EFSA Opinion, ESPP eNews n°61).

ESPP requests that EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) Opinions should be rapidly mandated by DG SANTE for the cycled ABP nutrient materials which were not included in the DG SANTE mandate to EFSA of April 2020: “Alternative transformation parameters” for composts, digestates, processed manure and frass (as already defined in ABP Regulation 142/2011 annexes),  Nationally validated treatment methods, Precipitated phosphates & derivates CMC12, Pyrolysis-gasification materials CMC 14, Cat.1 ABP ashes which represent a significant potential for phosphorus recycling.

ESPP input to public consultation on Animal By-Products in EU-fertilisers, 24th October 2022 www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

Policy perspectives

 

European Commission sees nutrient recycling as part of fertiliser crisis strategy

Oliver Sitar, European Commission DG Agriculture has underlined the gravity of the fertiliser supply crisis, impacts on farmers and food security, and that nutrient recycling from waste streams is part of improving EU resilience. Speaking at a webinar on food security (organised by EBIC, the European Biostimulants Industry Consortium, 100 participants, 28th October 2022), Mr. Sitar indicated that fertiliser prices and supply constraints, with energy costs, risk pushing farmers to use less fertiliser, so resulting in lower production, accentuating food price increases. The Commission has identified that 70% of EU ammonia production, the raw material of nitrogen fertilisers, was stopped this summer. The Commission has indicated that it will communicate on an “EU fertilisers strategy” in November, and that this will particularly target the Member States CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) Strategic Plans, which define how the EU’s CAP budget funds are spent on the ground. The Commission cited precision farming, planning of fertiliser use and incentives for biological and alternative fertilisers. Mr Sitar confirmed the importance of the CAP Strategic Plan, and also of INMAP (EU Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan, expected early 2023) and of Soil Health. The European Parliament already adopted a resolution (24th March 2022) stating that “alternative organic sources of nutrients and nutrient cycling should be utilised to the fullest extent as soon as possible” and calling on the Commission to “address legislative and practical barriers, … in particular, … to enhance the use of organic fertilising products obtained from sewage sludge, processed manure, biocharcoal and frass”.

European Parliament resolution, 24th March 2022 “Need for an urgent EU action plan to ensure food security inside and outside the EU in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine”, P9_TA(2022)0099.

EURACTIV “European Commission announces communication on fertilisers”, 6th October 2022

Fertilizers Europe press release “The EU Fertilizer Strategy: a tool to secure EU industry's green potential and ensure long-term food security in Europe”, 6th October 2022

 

EU risk assessment of sewage sludge contaminants

Commission (JRC) study concludes that pharmaceuticals in sewage sludge are of limited risk but that industrial chemicals in sludge may pose risks to human health and soil organisms when sludge is applied to farmland. In a report to support the currently ongoing revision of the EU Sewage Sludge Directive, JRC note that 6 to 9 million tonnes (DM) of sewage sludge are generated annually in the EU of which one third to a half is currently used in agriculture, effectively replacing maybe 5% of EU mineral P fertiliser use, maybe 2% for N-fertiliser. Priority organic contaminants in sewage are identified as dioxins, PAH, PFAS and chlorinated paraffins (a halogenated flame retardant), and to a lesser extent also alkylphenols, phthalates and polychlorinated naphthalenes. These contaminants are identified as potentially accumulative in soil and in food webs and as toxic even at very low levels. JRC concludes that for this small set of contaminants, there is potential significant risk to humans and to soil micro-organisms. Pharmaceuticals and personal care products are considered “of limited concern even at high application loads of sewage sludge”. Because of data gaps identified, there may be potential risks for other substances. Microplastics are also noted as an increasing source of concern because they can negatively impact soil properties and have negative impacts on soil organisms. The report notes that incineration of sewage sludge would eliminate these organic contaminants and estimates that anaerobic digestion and incineration of all EU sewage sludge would generate an additional net 4.4 TWhe of energy, most of this (3.4 TWhe) is from AD, so incineration would generate supplementary energy equivalent to 0.04% of EU electricity generation. The report recognises that sewage sludge application contributes to soil organic carbon but notes that this is orders of magnitude lower than for application of manure or bio-waste. Overall the report concludes that sewage sludge management should consider risks versus resource efficiency and that consequently a mixture of options adapted to local situations is necessary.

“Screening risk assessment of organic pollutants and environmental impacts from sewage sludge management”, Study to support policy

development on the Sewage Sludge Directive (86/278/EEC) European Commission JRC Science for Policy Report, D. Huygens et al., 2022, JRC129690, EUR 31238 EN, ISSN 1831-9424 https://dx.doi.org/10.2760/541579

 

 

ESPP asks EU to define when mineral chemicals cease to be “processed manure”

In ongoing correspondence with the European Commission, ESPP has again requested that mineral products, containing near-zero organic carbon, should be confirmed to be not subject to “processed manure” application limits under the Nitrates Directive. ESPP is not suggesting exemption from Nitrates Directive requirements for “RENURE” (“SAFEMANURE”) materials proposed by JRC because this would allow certain untreated manures, most liquid fractions of manure, various other scarcely-processed manures or raw manure spiked with 10% urea (see ESPP eNews n°47).

ESPP suggests that products respecting the definition of “Mineral Fertilisers” in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, i.e. < 1% organic carbon, should not be considered as “processed manure” because their agronomic behaviour will be the same as primary mineral fertilisers

ESPP further requests a clear definition of when recovered nutrient materials are no longer considered to be “processed manure” under the Nitrates Directive, for example:

  • Ammonia salts recovered from manure offgases (given that offgases are not covered by the Animal By-Products Regulation)
  • Biomass resulting from use of manure as substrate: algae grown in manure, willow trees fed with manure, etc. of nutrients recovered from processing of such biomass

Copies of ESPP correspondence with DG Environment (ESPP letter of 20th October 2022) www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

Research

 

“Planetary Boundaries” for nitrogen inputs for Europe

Environmental limit thresholds are modelled for EU countries for nitrogen, considering impacts of N deposits to natural areas (biodiversity damage) and losses to surface waters and groundwater (drinking water).  The INTEGRATOR nitrogen input-loss model (based on MITERRA-Europe) is applied to 40 000 geographical areas in Europe, each being a cluster of 1 k squares grouped for identical soil type, slope, altitude, etc. INTEGRATOR uses empirical linear models to estimate N emissions, runoff and leaching (ammonia, N2O, NOx, N2) from data on agricultural uses and inputs and on housing. The study concludes that total EU N inputs must be reduced by 31% to respect thresholds for N deposition (biodiversity), 43% to protect surface waters (2.5 mgN/l) but not significantly for drinking water (50 mgNO3/l). For drinking water, despite this result for the EU total, N input is necessary for nearly 20% of agricultural land. For all thresholds, results varied widely between different EU member states and regions, with the highest reductions being needed in livestock intensive regions. These calculated thresholds are significantly lower than that proposed by EEA and FOEN 2020 (ESPP eNews n°45) by attributing the planetary boundary exceedance to the EU based on consumption, concluding an EU exceedance of 3.3 (so requiring a reduction of N inputs of 71%).

“Spatially explicit boundaries for agricultural nitrogen inputs in the European Union to meet air and water quality targets”, De Vries et al., Science of the Total Environment 786 (2021) 147283, DOI.

 

Agricultural phosphorus deficits in Romania

40 – 50 year field trials at five sites in Romania, with different soils, show that P-fertilisation is needed to increase crop yields, with 80 kgP/ha being the needed maintenance dose and higher doses optimal on certain sites. Around 2/3 of Romania’s agricultural soil has low, very low or extremely low phosphorus, and the trend is worsening: over the period 2012-2019, average P application was only 13 kgP/ha, resulting in an average P-deficit of 26 kgP/ha. Field trial data are from 1967-1975 to 2019 at Valu lui Traian (calcaric Chernozem soil), Turda (typical Chernozem), Lovrin (typical Chernozem), Teleorman (Cambic Phaeozem and Secuieni (typical Chernozem). Initial soil available P at the five sites (Egner-Riehm-Domingo method), varied from 8 – 60 kgPAL/ha and increased significantly at all sites with P application rates of 40 – 160 kgP/ha. Application of at least 80 and up to 160 kgP/ha were needed to reach 120 kg soil PAL/ha (120 – 180 is cited as being the agronomic target in Belgium, for example). Wheat production increased 5 – 10 kg/ha per kg P applied. Even with the highest levels of fertiliser application, there was no soil accumulation of cadmium nor other heavy metals.

“Evolution of soil phosphorus content in long-term experiments”, N. Marin et at., Series A. Agronomy, Vol. LXV, No. 1, 2022 ISSN 2285-5785. LINK

 

High diet phosphorus and calcium increases blood pressure in rats

Long-term study in mice shows that high P and Ca in diet increased blood pressure, apparently changes to RAAS hormone balance (renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system). Male rats (statistics based on groups of at least ten rats) were fed normal diet (1% Ca, 0.7% P) or high Ca-P diet (2%Ca, 1.25% P) for fourteen months. Parathyroid hormone PTH was not modified, presumably because Ca:P ratio was not changed, however FGF23 hormone increased and RAAS hormone system balance was modified. Several indicators of blood pressure and arterial stiffness increased significantly (c. + 20%). This study is contrary to several reports that increased diet P in humans is not related to increased blood pressure.

“Long-Term Excessive Dietary Phosphate Intake Increases Arterial Blood Pressure, Activates the Renin–Angiotensin–Aldosterone System, and Stimulates Sympathetic Tone in Mice”, N. Latic et al., Biomedicines 2022, 10, 2510 – DOI.

 

Sewage sludge quality certification questionnaire

 

EFAR has launched a questionnaire asking whether an EU Quality Assurance Scheme for Biosolids would improve stakeholder confidence, and what aspects are important in sludge agricultural use safety and certification. EFAR (European Federation for Agricultural Recycling) represents companies specialised in land spreading of biosolids. The questionnaire asks about consumer confidence, legal conditions, monitoring, traceability, contaminants, data transparency.

Questionnaire open to 15th November 2022

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScaxBrrH5XjN4Ll0WnqxYyM2--04A-XP86PGuJkBB39-nUcYw/viewform

 

Stay informed

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eNews newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNewshome

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ESPP members

ESPP members logos 03.11.2022

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews070
Download as PDF

 

Save the dates : 17 – 18 – 19 January 2023

Summit of Organic and Organo-Mineral Fertilisers Industries in Europe
SOFIE2 - Brussels & hybrid, 17-18 January 2023
Call for presentations for SOFIE

First workshop on Nitrogen Recovery
ESPP event: Brussels & hybrid, 19 January 2023

EU public consultations
EU public consultation on animal by-products (ABPs) in EU fertilising products (FPR)
EU consultation on Critical Raw Materials
EU consultation on Soil Health

ESPP new member
Department of Power Engineering (UCT Prague)

Policy
Austria notifies national obligation to recover P from sewage sludge by 2030
INCOPA supports more stringent wastewater phosphorus discharge consents
ESPP input submitted on EU Fertilising Products Regulation
Proposed revisions of EU BAT and pollutants Directives


Animal by-product (ABP) ash in EU fertilisers
Legal Opinion on Cat.1 ABP ash

Fertiliser information
IFS FerTech Inform
IFA Sustainable Fertilizer Academy

Phosphate in diet and health
Trends in US dietary P intake
Diet phosphorus and certain health indicators
Blood phosphorus, alcohol metabolism, pancreatitis

Research
Manure additive to reduce manure nitrogen and methane emissions
Eutrophication control measures reduce aquatic methane emissions
Phosphorus recovery from sewage sludge ash by thermochemical processes
Overview of sewage sludge contaminants, thermal treatment and P-recovery
Testing bio-based coagulants for P-removal 9
Climate change: nutrient addition and warming affect soil P in grasslands
Annual and periodic P fertilisation in Chinese Inceptisols

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

Save the dates : 17 – 18 – 19 January 2023

 

Summit of Organic and Organo-Mineral Fertilisers Industries in Europe

 

SOFIE2 - Brussels & hybrid, 17-18 January 2023

sofie2 newsThe 1st SOFIE in 2019, brought together, for the first time ever, the European carbon-based fertiliser sector, and attracted over 125 participants, from industry (two thirds of participants), as well as regulators, stakeholders and R&D, from 14 European countries and worldwide (summary in SCOPE Newsletter n°130).

Delayed by Covid, this 2nd SOFIE will centre on how organic and organo-mineral fertiliser products and technologies deliver specific agronomic performance characteristics for farmers’ needs. The event is being co-organised by ESPP, ECOFI, Eurofema and Fertilizers Europe, with support of the International Fertiliser Society.

“Organic” here means containing organic carbon, as in the EU Fertilising Product Regulation definitions of PFC1A “Organic Fertiliser”, PFC1B “Organo-Mineral Fertiliser” and PFC3A “Organic Soil Improver” (that is, not particularly fertilisers certified for Organic Production). Organic carbon input is increasingly recognised as valuable for soil carbon storage, water retention and nutrient availability in all types of farming.

SOFIE provides a unique opportunity to meet companies, technology suppliers, regulatory experts and other actors in this fast-developing sector. The new EU Fertilising Products Regulation includes organic and organo-mineral fertilisers, opening the European market, but there are challenges in adapting EU legislation to the specificities of organic fertilisers. The EU Fertilising Products Regulation also enables the inclusion of recycled organic nutrients in CE-marked products, subject to input material and fertiliser product quality criteria.

 

Call for presentations for SOFIE

SOFIE2 will showcase:

  • industry innovation in organic and organo-mineral fertiliser formulation and performance, processing technologies, testing and monitoring, field application
  • agronomic demonstration of organic fertiliser products
  • update on EU Fertilising Product Regulation implementation and product conformity assessment

Proposals for presentations for SOFIE2 should be sent by 15th October to : maximum one page (free format), outlining proposed presentation content, references or websites, speaker(s) names, organisation and emails.

 

SOFIE2 - 2nd Summit of the Organic and organo-mineral Fertilisers Industries in Europe, Brussels Renaissance Marriott Hotel, 19 rue de Parnasse, & hybrid, 17-18 January 2023 www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SOFIE2023

 

 

First workshop on Nitrogen Recovery

 

ESPP event: Brussels & hybrid, 19 January 2023

ESPP is widening to include recovery for recycling of nitrogen*. A literature search and technology inventory is currently underway**. A first meeting is organised, open to all technology providers and developers:

  • n recovery newsLiterature search and technology inventory conclusions and overview, market perspectives vision
  • Why recycle nitrogen? current price and import crises, global nitrogen cycle
  • Perspectives from the fertilisers industry, water industry, biogas operators
  • Technology sessions, including: ammonia recovery (from gas cleaning or “stripping” of liquids), potential NOx /N2O capture for N recycling, N recovery from liquid phase
  • Final panel and discussion: What next? Working Group? Actions?

Save the date: 19th January 2023, Brussels (L42 Centre) & hybrid. Further information and registration will be online soon on ESPP’s website www.phosphorusplatform.eu/NRecovery

To propose a presentation of your process or technology, or on N-recovery context and perspectives, contact Olivier Bastin, ESPP

This workshop will be open, for physical participation in Brussels, to invited participants only. This is necessary to limit numbers in order to enable exchange and discussion on how to engage actions to promote, develop and implement nitrogen recovery for recycling. Online access will not be limited. To participate in Brussels, you should send a request to Olivier Bastin, ESPP indicating what technology, market or regulatory expertise you can bring to this workshop.

* subject to approval of statutes change by ESPP members, to cover recovery of nitrogen and other elements, at the next ESPP General Assembly.

** please send any relevant information to Olivier Bastin

 

 

EU public consultations

 

EU public consultation on animal by-products (ABPs) in EU fertilising products (FPR)

The European Commission (DG SANTE) has published, for public comment to 24th October 2022, a proposed amendment of the EU ABP Regulation to allow use of certain ABPs as component materials under the EU FPR (Fertilising Products Regulation). This has been awaited by stakeholders since early 2016 when the Commission published the draft FPR regulatory proposal with an empty box for ABPs. Still today, no ABP nor ABP derived material whatsoever can be used in a CE-Mark fertiliser, unless and until this proposed amendment to the ABP Regulation is adopted and published and enters into force.

It is not clear to ESPP whether also amendments will be required to the annexes of the FPR: possibly not for some materials, where these are already specifically cited in a CMC (see below), but presumably amendment of the FPR Annex II will be required for other materials (to populate the currently empty box of CMC10).

The DG SANTE proposal published (5 pages) covers only 13 (groups of) materials for which processing is already defined in the ABP Regulations (1069/2009). That is, use of these materials is already allowed in “national” fertilisers, but subject to limitations which would not (under the proposal) be applicable to CE-Mark fertilisers (traceability, use limitations, e.g. not on grazing land).

Of these 13 materials, it is proposed that 4 could be used “as such” (Cat.2-3 ash – but not Cat.1 ash, see article below, digestate, compost, processed manure - insect frass, in each case subject to meeting the relevant existing ABP Regulation processing specifications) whereas 9 would be subject to limitations to use: max 50 kg packaging, dilution by at least 50% with some other non-animal-feed material. These additional requirements are stated as intending to prevent inappropriate feeding of animal protein to other animals (citing EU Regulation 999/2001 on TSE transmissible spongiform encephalopathies). The dilution would have to not be with any material in the very long list of possible animal feeds in Regulation 68/2013. This list includes, amongst others, plant materials, plant micronutrients and several mineral feed chemicals, so this could severely limit use of these ABPs in fertilisers. ESPP does not understand why smaller packaging would prevent feeding to animals. As proposed, the combination of small packaging and dilution (mixing) could be economically impracticable for agricultural fertilising products and generate considerable unnecessary transport, packaging and plastic waste.

For memory: DG SANTE has previously indicated that nitrogen salts recovered from off-gases from manure, manure processing, livestock stables (CMC15) are not concerned the Animal By-Product Regulation (ESPP eNews n°68).

DG SANTE’s proposed amendment to the ABP Regulation (of 26/9/2022 published for consultation to 24/10/2022) would allow only the following ABP-derived materials in FPR CE-Mark fertilisers:

Specifications of processing required *
(in Regulation 142/2011)

Could be used directly, as such, as component materials of CE-Mark fertilisers
(subject to respecting the specified existing processing conditions of the ABP regulations)

Ash from Cat.2 and Cat.3 ABPs (not Cat. 1 ash – see article below on this question)

Already anticipated in FPR texts: ESPP understands no amendment to FPR annexes necessary. But subject to respecting relevant FPR CMC specifications:

CMC13

Annex III

I.e. incineration or co-incineration: ≥850 °C for ≥2 seconds or ≥1100 °C for ≥0.2 seconds (plus various operating and plant requirements).

Compost

CMC3

Annex V, chapters I, II & III

Digestate

CMC54

Annex V, chapters I, II & III

Processed manure and insect frass

Possibly CMC14 for biochars etc. if a relevant pyrolysis process is already specified in the ABP Regulations? Otherwise: CMC10

Annex XI, chapter I
($2 a, b & d):

I.e. treatment at ≥70°C for ≥60 minutes and verification by sampling of specified pathogen levels.

Could only be used under conditions: small packaging, dilution with non-feed-list materials

Glycerine and biofuel residues,
Cat.2 and Cat.3

Require addition to CMC10:
ESPP understands amendment of FPR Annex II will be necessary

Annex IV, chapter IV

Certain Cat.3 materials

Annex IV, chapter IV

PAP (Processed Animal Protein) Cat.3

Annex X, chapter II

Processed MBM (Meat and Bone Meal) Cat.2. Must also be marked with glyceroltriheptanoate (GTH)

Annex IV, chapter III A

I.e. pressure sterilisation ≥133°C for ≥20 minutes and with steam at ≥3 bars

Blood products Cat.3

Annex X, chapter II, §2

Hydrolysed proteins

Annex X, chapter II, §5 D

Dicalcium phosphate and Tricalcium phosphate
This concerns only DCP and TCP derived from certain Cat.3 ABPs, not from minerals

Annex X, chapter II,
§6 or §$7

Feathers and down.

Annex XIII, chapter VII C

Horns, hooves.

Annex XIII, chapter XII

* “Standard” (but not “Alternative”) specifications of processing (parameters of minimum temperature, time, etc) = for each material, as defined in ABPR Implementing Regulation 142/2011, consolidated version 17/4/2022 http://data.europa.eu/eli/reg/2011/142/oj

Public consultation on animal by-products (ABPs) in EU fertilising products (FPR) is open until 24th October 2022. Input is in the form of a statement (4 000 characters max.) plus possibility to submit a document: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/13478-Fertilisers-list-of-animal-by-products-to-be-used-without-further-official-controls-update-_en

EU consultation on Critical Raw Materials

Public consultation open to 25th November 2022 towards a future EU Regulation on Critical Raw Materials (CRMs). At this stage, the consultation concerns an outline roadmap, with a general questionnaire on policies and priorities.

Critical Raw Materials newsThe Commission’s proposed roadmap (dated 30th September 2022) refers to Critical Raw Materials as relevant to green and digital technologies, aerospace, defence and health industries, but does not mention agriculture or food security. It is, indicated that the consultation concerns not only materials currently on the EU CRM list (2020 list, here, which includes both “Phosphate Rock” and “Phosphorus” P4), but also other strategic materials (e.g. Potash, currently under consideration in the CRM process SCRREEN2) but NOT energy materials nor agricultural raw materials (citing “wheat”). ESPP will underline that phosphorus and potassium fertilisers are critical for the EU’s food supply, and so for security and resilience, but also nitrogen fertilisers, which are today heavily dependent on imported gas, resulting currently in major production and supply disruption.

The proposed roadmap underlines the need to improve resource efficiency and to support circularity, in particular by facilitating regulation and investment in recycling. ESPP will underline the need to accelerate authorisation of recycling of nutrients derived from wastes and animal by-products, whilst ensuring safety: in particular, use of Cat.1 ABP ash in fertilisers, clarification of legislation concerning recycling to animal feed, waste status of algae, End-of-Waste for materials recovered from waste waters.

ESPP will support the proposed actions on governance and monitoring of Critical Raw Materials, in particular by modifying trade customs codes to better identify relevant materials and by putting in place permanent (regularly updated) material flow data for the key plant nutrients (N, P, K), including data on quality of waste and by-product flows. Such flow data enables to identify loss hotspots and recycling opportunities, and to monitor effectiveness of policies (in coordination with monitoring already in place by the European Environment Agency and under EU policies such as the Water Framework Directive).

Concerning permitting, action should concern not only extraction of CRMs, but also facilitating permitting of industrial plants wishing to take in wastes for recycling to substitute virgin raw materials.

ESPP notes the reference to ensuring technical standards to support innovation, and reminds of the CEN SABE identification of standards needs to support phosphorus recycling from wastewater (2015), which should be extended to recycling of phosphorus and other nutrients from other secondary sources.

The Commission roadmap states that “recycling obligations” or “information on carbon footprint”, applicable both within the EU and to imports, are necessary to ensure a level playing field, citing rare earths. ESPP will suggest that this should also be applicable to nutrients essential for food production.

The consultation, open to the general public and all companies or organisations, includes around 20 general questions about challenges and priorities for Critical Raw materials policies, covering monitoring and governance, permitting, financing and investment, resource efficiency, carbon footprint, circularity, international aspects and workforce skills,. The consultation also offers the possibility to make open comments and to submit position or reference documents.

EU “Critical Raw Materials” homepage. EU public consultation “European Critical Raw Materials act”, open to 25th November 2022 HERE.

 

 

EU consultation on Soil Health

EU public consultation, to 24th October 2022, to support preparation of a future EU Soil Health Regulation.

EU consultation, open the general public, companies, organisations, to 24th October 2022  LINK.

 

ESPP new member

Department of Power Engineering (UCT Prague)

UCT Prague newsThe Department of Power Engineering at the Faculty of Environmental Technology, UCT Prague, addresses the overall issue of thermochemical treatment of sewage sludge in the entire technological process, i.e., sludge drying, sludge pyrolysis, sludge incineration, pyrolysis gas and flue gas treatment, and the treatment of the resulting products such as sludge-char and ash. The department is fully equipped to determine the relevant fuel, functional, and environmental properties of sewage sludge and the products of pyrolysis, gasification and incineration processes. Senior and junior researchers, PhD students, as well as department students in process engineering and power engineering, ion exchange and membrane technologies, and corrosion are involved in the study of the above-mentioned issues. Currently, ongoing projects deal with: removal of PFASs during sewage sludge pyrolysis, physicochemical properties of sludge-chars and ashes after the sludge pyrolysis/incineration, application research on a commercial pyrolysis unit, and phosphorus and sewage sludge flows in the Czech Republic for applied research in phosphorus recovery or agricultural use of sludge-chars.

More information, list of current projects and publications: https://uen.vscht.cz/research/58693.

Policy

 

Austria notifies national obligation to recover P from sewage sludge by 2030

The Austria government has notified to the EU a national Ordinance on waste incineration introducing the requirement to incinerate sewage sludge from most wwtps ≥ 20 000 p.e.  and to recover 60% - 80% of phosphorus. The Ordinance covers BAT and new substitute fuels in incineration plants. The section on “Sewage sludge incineration and phosphorus recovery” (chapter 4, page 16) specifies that sewage from wastewater treatment plants of ≥ 20 000 p.e. must be incinerated by 1st January 2030. Three P-recovery options are authorised:

  • at least 80% of the P in the sewage sludge is recovered from the incineration ash.
  • all the incineration ash itself is used for production of a fertiliser respecting national fertiliser regulation specifications (Düngemittelgesetz 2021, BGBl. I 103/2021).
  • 60% of the P in the wwtp inflow is recovered by “thermal, chemical or physico-chemical” processes at or nearby the wwtp
    (if this third option is chosen, then the sewage sludge does not have to be incinerated)

In all cases, operators must produce an annual report indicating the quantity of P in ash / wwtp inflow, the type of P-recovery and the quantity of P recovered, with the first report by 30th April 2031.

Austria “Abfallverbrennungsverordnung 2022 – AVV 2022” (Waste incineration Ordinance), 4 “Klärschlammbehandlung. Klärschlammverbrennung und Phosphorrückgewinnung” (Sewage sludge treatment. Sewage Sludge Incineration and Phosphorus Recovery), notified (26/9/2022) to and published by the European Commission, Notification Number: 2022/645/A (search in EU TRIS with year = 2022, number = 645)

 

 

INCOPA supports more stringent wastewater phosphorus discharge consents

INCOPA (Cefic sector group, ESPP member) has taken position for lower thresholds for phosphorus emissions in urban wastewater, pointing to LCA data showing the low carbon emissions of iron and aluminium coagulants. INCOPA says that chemical P removal using Fe or Al salts is cost-effective and can achieve very low P discharge consents to protect surface waters from eutrophication, suggesting that P limits should be lowered in the current review of the EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive 91/271/EEC. INCOPA state that phosphorus should also be recovered and recycling and that coagulants can be compatible with P-recovery. A 2020 LCA study by IVL for INCOPA concludes that chemical P-removal (ferric or aluminium) gives lower greenhouse emissions and higher biogas methane production than biological P-removal.

“INCOPA is ready to support the implementation of more stringent phosphorus emission limits in urban wastewater, with low carbon footprint inorganic coagulants” www.incopa.org 23rd June 2022 HERE. “LCA analysis of different WWTP processes”, IVL for INCOPA, 2020 HERE.

 

 

 

ESPP input submitted on EU Fertilising Products Regulation

The EU survey on material inputs for CE-Mark fertilisers and other proposals for amendments remains open. ESPP submitted a table of 22 secondary materials currently excluded from CMC criteria. 188 different companies and organisations submitted detailed information concerning their own product or process. After the first cut-off date of 16th September 2022, this EU survey remains open for further input. For this first cut-off date, and after wide consultation of member companies and stakeholders, ESPP listed and provided summary information on the following secondary materials as potentially relevant for the nutrient circular economy, currently excluded from use in CE-Mark fertiliser production, which could be considered for development of criteria, to define criteria to enable safe recycling: Derivates of secondary mineral acids; Potassium, calcium and other salts recovered from (non CMC13) ashes; Ammonium salts from ABC powder fire extinguisher refurbishment; Nitrogen recovery from liquid phase of wastewaters; Biomass grown in sewage and in other waste waters; Natural biomass collected as waste; Fish excreta; Fish and seafood processing residues; Insect frass; Separately recovered human urine and derivates; Processed solids from dry toilets; Vivianite from sewage; Humus from tree bark; Pulp & paper industry limes; Pulp & paper fibrous sludges; Digestate from biorefineries processing biomass; Macro- and micronutrients recovered from battery recycling; Plasma treatment of digestates; P leached from sludge or biochars; Pre-processed input materials for CMC 13 and CMC14; Pyrolysis and gasification materials from sewage sludge; Multi-stage thermal oxidation processes.

EU survey on materials for CE-mark fertilisers “EU survey on possible future development of the FPR”. Survey remains open to all companies and organisations with relevant information to input:

ESP submitted input table www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

All contributions submitted to this survey can be consulted here (answers to the questionnaire only, the submitted attachments are – it seems – not accessible)

 

 

Proposed revisions of EU BAT and pollutants Directives

European Commission legislative proposals would improve industrial material efficiency requirements and bring 185 000 cattle, pig and poultry farms (up from 20 000 today) under Industrial Emissions Directive (BAT) obligations. The Commission has now published various documents summarising the proposals for revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED, defining BAT) and of the Regulation of the E-PRTR Regulation (now Industrial Emissions Portal). Key objectives presented in the Fact Sheet and Q&A include reducing livestock ammonia and methane emissions, fostering industrial materials efficiency, non-toxic or less toxic chemicals use and integrating depollution and decarbonisation. All livestock production of 150 or more LSU (livestock units) is concerned, and will have 3 ½ years to comply with BAT (Best Available Technology).

European Commission “Revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED)” web page

 

 

Animal by-product (ABP) ash in EU fertilisers

Legal Opinion on Cat.1 ABP ash

ESPP has obtained an expert Legal Opinion on the possible use of Category 1 ABP ash in production of EU fertilising Products. This questions DG SANTE’s position that this is somehow “not allowed” under EU ABP Regulations. Cat.2 and Cat.3 ABP ash are underway to being authorised in CMC13 (see article on EU consultation above), but this consultation excludes Cat.1 ash. ESPP underlines that, if such use of Cat.1 ash is in fact legally admissible (as this Opinion suggests), then we nonetheless fully recognise that safety needs to be ensured, and support the request for an EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) Opinion engaged by DG SANTE (letter of 31/5/22 to ESPP here). The Legal Opinion, commissioned by ESPP from Barry Love, accredited specialist in environmental law, Environmental Law Chambers, Scotland, concludes that the Waste Framework Directive is intended to take over the regulation of ABPs once they are destined for incineration. The Opinion concludes that it is incorrect to consider (as DG SANTE seems to do) that art. 32 of the ABP Regulation excludes use of Cat1 ash or materials derived from such ash cannot be used in fertilisers. The Opinion also suggests that appropriate incineration of Cat1 ABP material could be regarded as a “recovery operation” leading to End-of-Waste status if the resulting ash is used as a fertiliser or in fertiliser production, and that also that the ABP Regulations do not necessarily exclude the use of such fertilisers on fields grazed by animals. It is noted that the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) could bestow such EU End-of-Waste status (after modification of clauses in Annex II CMCs which currently exclude Cat1 derived materials, and subject to appropriate REACH registration), but such FPR End-of-Waste status would only apply to the final conformity-assessed fertilising product (not to intermediates, such as phosphoric acid, which could however obtain End-of-Waste status by some other route). In particular FPR CMC13 (Thermal Oxidation Materials and Derivates) currently excludes Cat1 ash and Cat1 ash was not discussed by Member States and experts during the JRC STRUBIAS process preparatory to this CMC (because it was excluded by DG SANTE). ESPP suggests that the proposed EFSA Opinion on Cat1 ash could redress this. The Legal Opinion notes that specific use limitations (e.g. grazing land) could be included in FPR Annex III (Labelling requirements) if considered appropriate by EFSA.

The Legal Opinion suggests that “if all that is currently standing in the way of” moving towards authorisation of Cat1 ash and derivates in EU fertilisers (in parallel to definition through the announced EFSA Opinion of conditions necessary to guarantee safety) “is that the Commission believes Cat.1-derived ash is a legal impossibility under the ABPR, then they must be prevailed upon to substantiate that position”.

The Legal Opinion concludes that DG SANTES’s position that Cat.1 ash cannot legally be used in fertilisers “is an unsupportable conclusion which fails to (i) acknowledge the lack of any express prohibition to that effect, (ii) address the interface between WFD and ABPR, and (iii) achieve the purposive result envisaged by the Circular Economy principles.“

Please see the full text of this Legal Opinion for detail: the above short summary is necessarily incomplete and imprecise.

“At the request of European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform LEGAL OPINION on ‘End of Waste’ and use of Cat 1 ABP incineration ash as fertiliser”, 13th September 2022, Barry Love, LL.B (Hons), LL.M (Environmental Law), Dip.L.P, Solicitor, Accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a specialist in Environmental Law (2006-present), online at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

Fertiliser information

 

IFS FerTech Inform

The International Fertiliser Society (IFS, the fertiliser science organisation) has launched a knowledge base and information exchange forum on fertiliser production technologies. The knowledge centre provides introductory information on processes, chemistry, materials and equipment and a data base of in depth materials, including links to IFS Proceedings. The data base is supported by an interactive forum and a panel of experts. FerTechInform targets fertiliser industry technicians, managers and partners. Enrolment is 1 500 € per level and the training is validated by examination.

FerTechInform has been developed with input from the IFDC Fertilizer Manual ‘Green Book’, with other content provided by the European Fertilizer Blenders Association, Fertilizers Europe, European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform  (ESPP), Ammonia Energy Association, EasyMining, OCI Nitrogen, Prayon and Yara. https://fertechinform.org/

 

IFA Sustainable Fertilizer Academy

The International Fertiliser Association (IFA, the fertiliser global industry federation) has launched a virtual training curriculum on fertiliser industry sustainability. Two training levels are open: Introductory, Intermediate. Themes covered include application of sustainability to fertilisers, sustainable business and finance, circularity and nutrient recovery and recycling, fertiliser production, mining, green ammonia, waste management, emissions, plant nutrition, biodiversity and fertiliser use, food supply chains.

IFA ‘Sustainable Fertilizer Academy’. https://ifa-sfa.org/

Founding partners: University Mohammed VI Polytechnic (UM6P), Anglo American, CF Industries, GPIC, ICL, Ma’aden, Mosaic, OCI, OCP, QAFCO, Yara.

 

 

Phosphate in diet and health

 

Trends in US dietary P intake

Analysis of data 1988 – 2016 suggests that US average adult phosphorus intake rose by around 8% to c. 1.4 gP/person/day whereas intake of food additive phosphorus fell. The study uses US official survey estimates of intakes of different types of food and tables of P-content for each food type (both from NHANES US National Health and Nutrition Survey and WWEIA What We Eat in America, sampling around 5 000 persons annually), combined with industry-sourced information on levels of food additive P commercially used in each food type and market survey (Innova Market Insights) data on the % of each food type sold containing or not food P additives. Estimated mean P intake increased from 1.29 gP/person/day o, 1988-1994 to 1.43 in 2011-2012, then fell again to 1.4 g/person/day in 2015-2016, that is +8% from 1998 to 2016. Food additive P consumption peaked in 2011-2012 and fell to its lowest level of the period in 2015-2016, at c. 9% lower than in 1988-1994. When compared to mean body weight, which has increased in the US over the period, total P intake again peaked in 2011-2012 but was slightly lower in 2015-2016 than in 1988-1994. This is relevant in that dietary recommendations for P intake are generally expressed per kg body mass. The highest sources of dietary P are identified as cheese, pizza, chicken meat, milk and eggs, but in total these make up <20% of total P intake, however the paper eludes the point raised by other authors that food additive P is generally highly soluble and so is taken into the body, whereas only c. 60% of natural diet P is adsorbed (Noori 2010, Cupisi 2018). Food additive P was <12% of total dietary P intake in 2015-2016. The authors underline that the NHANES assessment of intakes of different food types (by questionnaire) can be unreliable, that the food table indicators of P content for different food types may also be unreliable, and that better data is needed on natural and food additive P in different foods.

This study was funded by the food additive industry (IFAC International Food Additive Council). The authors are with a food product marketing company.

“Trends in Total, Added, and Natural Phosphorus Intake in Adult Americans, NHANES 1988–1994 to NHANES 2015–2016”, K. Fulgoni & V. Fulgoni, Nutrition Impact LLC, Nutrients, 2021, 13, 2249. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13072249

 

 

Diet phosphorus and certain health indicators

Total dietary phosphorus intakes show some weak correlations with blood phosphorus, weak correlations to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), improved bone density, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure. No correlations were found to mortality This is the second of two papers funded by the food additive industry (IFAC), with main authors from a food product marketing company, see above. This paper again analyses data from the US NHANES survey and estimates of food additive P and natural P in diet (see above). In this case, the estimated mean P intakes are compared to various health outcomes for which NHANES collects data. Total dietary P was significantly correlated to slightly increased blood phosphorus levels. Total dietary P was correlated to slight improvements in several health parameters, but with varying differences when considering food additive P or natural dietary P. Total and natural P were correlated to reduced total cholesterol and reduced LDL cholesterol (“bad”) but increased HDL cholesterol (“good”), whereas food additive P correlated to decreased HDL. Both forms of P intake correlated to reduced blood pressure (diastolic and systolic) and to improved bone density (femur BMC, femur BMD). Total dietary P and natural P correlated to slightly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) whereas food additive P correlated to a slight increase in CVD risk. It is noted that a number of previous studies show correlation of blood phosphorus levels (serum P) to CVD risk, probably resulting from artery hardening due to calcium phosphate precipitation and impacts of phosphorus concentrations on artery wall cells. No clear correlations between P intakes and mortality were shown, with some correlation appearing only after correction for certain covariates. The authors underline that in most cases the predicted health impacts of changes in dietary P intake are very small.

This study was funded by the food additive industry (IFAC International Food Additive Council). The first two authors are with a food product marketing company. T. Wallace presents himself as “America’s favorite food scientis”.

“Association of Total, Added, and Natural Phosphorus Intakes with Biomarkers of Health Status and Mortality in Healthy Adults in the United States”, K. Fulgoni, V. Fulgoni, T. Wallace, Nutrients 2022, 14, 1738. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14091738

 

Blood phosphorus, alcohol metabolism, pancreatitis

Higher levels of blood phosphorus correspond to lower peak blood alcohol concentrations after alcohol intake. Low diet P in mice resulted in alcohol intake causing pancreatitis risk.

In Bramness et al. 2022, Twenty young male volunteers, after overnight fasting followed were given alcohol (vodka, 38%) 30 minutes after by a light breakfast, calculated (according to body weight) to reach blook alcohol concentration of 1.2%. Baseline (after fasting) blood serum P concentration was negatively correlated (albeit with scattering) to peak blood alcohol concentration (in this case, the first blood alcohol measurement one hour after intake) but not to alcohol elimination rate These results differ from a recent study using mice which found no correlation between serum P and peak blood alcohol concentration (Farooq 2021).

The Farooq study shows a different effect, in mice, which is that hypophosphatemia (low serum P), resulting from a low P diet, caused alcohol intake to lead to pancreatitis, with this effect being prevented by phosphorus intake along with the alcohol. 4 week old mice were given either a normal P-level diet (0.33% P in feed) or low P diet (0.02% P) for two weeks, then fed either alcohol, water, or alcohol plus P (Na2HPO4) for five days, with alcohol at 2.86 g ethanol / kg body weight (equivalent to human binge drinking). After five days, the mice showed serum P c. 1/3 lower for the low P diet. After the five days, pancreas cells in the low P diet mice showed significant increases in edema, serum analyse and lipase and pancreatic MPO (myeloperoxidase), indicators suggesting increased susceptibility to pancreatitis. In vitro tests showed that the low P diet mice pancreatic cells showed cytotoxicity to acinar cell function, with further tests suggesting that this is related to phosphorus regulation of intracellular calcium levels.

“Blood alcohol levels after standardized intake of alcohol are related to measured blood phosphate levels”, J. Bramness et al., Clinical Biochemistry in press 2022 DOI.

“The Role of Phosphate in Alcohol-Induced Experimental Pancreatitis”, A. Farooq et al., Gastroenterology 2021;161:982–995 DOI.

 

Research

 

Manure additive to reduce manure nitrogen and methane emissions

The EU has agreed to provide nearly 2.5 M€ funding to the “GasAbate N+” project, led by GlasPort Bio (Ireland), reducing GHG emissions during manure storage and increased anaerobic digestion renewable energy potential. Two chemicals are dosed (no capital investment is required) which inhibit certain specific microbial activity in the manure during storage, without affecting other microbes in the slurry. The chemicals are GRAS (generally regarded as safe) and have been extensively studied with their safety proven for humans, animals and the environment, with no environmental concerns over residues remaining in the slurry. The result is to inhibit release of methane and of other gases including ammonia and hydrogen sulphide. The project states that this can result in a 30% saving in N losses (so reducing farmers’ need to purchase mineral N fertiliser), a 98% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (methane and nitrogen gas compounds) and a 40% increase in biogas production if manure then goes to anaerobic digestion (carbon is retained in the manure, not lost as methane, so is available for methane production in the digester). These numbers are based on treatment of manure during 14 weeks storage.

The GasAbate technology is different from manure acidification, which is widely developed and is recognised as EU BAT (see ESPP-DPP-NNP Nutrient Recovery Technology Catalogue) in that the solution of GasAbate N+ is intended for use during slurry storage, increasing its utility as an organic fertiliser and as a feedstock for anaerobic digestion, whereas slurry acidification is intended for application during storage and/or during field application of slurry or digestate.

Preparatory tests using dairy slurry in 25 litre storage drums are reported in Thorn et al 2022. The GasAbate project is now at its mid-point. Trials have been carried out at dairy farms in Ireland where c. 80% reduction in methane emissions from stored slurry from a 200 head herd was achieved (publication pending). Further trials are planned in Europe and in the US and on pig slurry in Ireland.

“GasAbate N+: Additive Technology to Prevent Greenhouse Gas Emissions and to Enhance the Fertiliser and Bioeconomy Feedstock Value of Animal Manures and Slurries”, Horizon 2020 CORDIS and YouTube video. Contact email.

Eutrophication control measures reduce aquatic methane emissions

Freshwater eutrophic mesocosm studies showed lower methane emissions after soluble P removal using lanthanum or after dredging. 1.15 m diameter, 0.75 m depth, mesocosms (number not specified) were set up in July and filled with sediment and water from eutrophic Lake Wylerbergmeer, Netherlands, then monitored for 18 months. For phosphorus removal, LMB (lanthanum modified bentonite = ‘Phoslock’) was added in a 1:1 La:P-available molecular ratio. Dredging removed the top 5 cm of sediment. Both diffusive and ebullitive (bubbles) emissions of methane were captured and measured. Physiochemical, plant and microbial community variables were measured. Diffusive accounted for most methane emissions in all cases. Dredging significantly reduced emissions, both in the first and in the second summers, whereas lanthanum dosing slightly increased methane emissions for the first summer, but then reduced emissions more than did dredging in the second summer. Methanogenic bacteria were related to surface water ammonia and oxygen and sediment porewater phosphorus levels. Total methane emissions were extremely different in the first and second summers, increasing from c. 5 in the first summer to around 150 mg-methane/m2/day in the second summer, so remained ten times higher in the second summer even after lanthanum treatment or dredging.

“Phosphorus control and dredging decrease methane emissions from shallow lakes”, T. Nijman et al., Science of the Total Environment 847 (2022) 157584 DOI.

 

Phosphorus recovery from sewage sludge ash by thermochemical processes

Thermochemical treatment of sewage sludge ash (SSA) by microwaves (MW) promotes the formation of bioavailable CaNaPO4, with limited reaction times and lower energy consumption. A MW absorber is added to the samples, while the chamber is composed of a secondary MW absorbent (susceptor) and a MW transparent material to benefit thermal insulation for the heat generated in the sample by the susceptor. SSAs (60% of sample mass) were added with sodium bicarbonate (25%), used as a sodium ion source to partially replace calcium ions in the phosphates, therefore increasing their solubility, and anthracite (15%), used as MW absorber. Samples (0.4 g) were placed in the dedicated chamber and inserted into the oven, and treated at 1000 W for 15 minutes. The thermochemical treatment increased P availability with respect to the corresponding raw samples, supporting the possibility of direct reuse of the obtained products as fertilisers. XRD analysis highlighted the formation of CaNaPO4 in several samples, together with the formation of other P-containing crystalline phases (e.g., AlPO4). In addition, the water solubility of Pb, Zn, and Cr was decreased after the treatment. Given that microwave energy requirements are not proportional to scale-up, the authors suggest that MW technology involves low energy consumption and CO2 emission.

“A new breakthrough in the P recovery from sewage sludge ash by thermochemical processes”, L. Fiameni et al., Green Chem. Advance Article (2022) DOI

 

Overview of sewage sludge contaminants, thermal treatment and P-recovery

Based on over 200 references, contaminants in sewage sludge are discussed (heavy metals, nanoparticles, microplastics, pharmaceuticals …), thermal treatment routes and routes for P-recovery from ash are summarised. The authors note that sewage sludge can be a suitable fertiliser for agriculture, improving soil quality and preventing soil erosion, but raise concerns about possible impacts on soil, soil organisms, plants and the food chain, of contaminants present in sludge. Field evidence of impacts of organic contaminants is generally limited, but these have been shown to have effects in lab trials with soil and sewage sludge. For example silver nanoparticles can impact snails and silver can be taken up by plants (Courtois 2021). Microplastics can affect earthworms. PET microplastics can be broken down by snails and have negative effects on them (Song 2019). PFAS can accumulate in plants. ESPP notes that new EU Chemical Strategy announces restrictions on both PFAS and nanoparticles which should address these pollutants at source. The authors consider that the revision of the EU Sewage Sludge Directive should take into account research on organic pollutants in sewage sludge. Thermal treatment routes for sewage sludge are discussed: mono-incineration, co-incineration, pyrolysis and gasification (allothermal, autothermal). The authors’ previous paper (Moško 2021, ESPP eNews n°52) is cited concluding that pyrolysis above 600°C eliminates nearly 100% of most organic pollutants. The authors conclude that mono-incineration is a known and stable route for sewage sludge treatment and that several processes for phosphate recovery from the ash are today operational.

“Sewage sludge treatment methods and P-recovery possibilities: Current state-of-the-art”, M. Husek, J. Mosko, M. Pohorely, J. Environmental Management 315 (2022) 115090 DOI.

 

Testing bio-based coagulants for P-removal

The LIFE-NEWEST project tested two different bio-based chemicals for P-removal from wastewater, including a total of 45 months full-scale testing in four sewage works in Spain. First, a new chemically synthesised tannin-based polymer (see US patents US4558080 and US6955826) was tested. This however showed significant traces of formaldehyde, from the synthesis process, so was then replaced by a blend of bio-sourced organic polymers, presumably again based on tannin. This also had the advantage that these polymers were already REACH registered. ECOTAN T3 was used in four municipal sewage treatment works (Lloc nou d´en Fenollet, Beniganim, Ontinyent and Canalsat, near Valencia, Spain, managed by subsidiaries of Global Omnium) at the same dosage (mg/l) as ferric chloride for a total of 45 months operation, achieved somewhat poorer P-removal results, but respected the discharge consents in all cases (2 or 1 mg P-total/l). Ferric achieved 0.5 mgP/l in one works but the bio-sourced coagulant did not (at the same dosage). The bio-sourced coagulants (at the same dosage as ferric) resulted in better sludge dewatering with lower flocculant polymer consumption, and higher biogas production, with no deterioration in sewage works organics removal (COD discharge). Testing of composted sewage sludge as fertiliser for orange and almond trees showed in most cases no difference between use of sludge with bio-sourced coagulant and use of mineral fertiliser.

LIFE-NEWEST LIFE16 ENV/ES/000156, “New urban wastewater treatment based on natural coagulants to avoid phosphorus pollution allowing mud’s agrivalorization”, Final Report 30/11/2021 project reports here.

 

Climate change: nutrient addition and warming affect soil P in grasslands

Nitrogen addition may promote P mineralisation and transformation of refractory soil inorganic P, while warming regulates plant acquisition and enzyme activity accelerating the P cycle. A meta-analysis of 68 publications (up to mid-2021) on changes in soil P in global grasslands under warming and N/P addition to fields showed that N addition reduced microbial biomass P (− 11 %) but increased litter P concentration (+ 16 %) and available P (+ 14 %), due to a promotion of plant growth leading to enhanced P mineralisation and conversion of refractory forms of soil inorganic P. Experimental warming regulates plant acquisition and enzyme activity, leading to a reduced microbial biomass P (− 11 %) and available P (− 7 %), but increased litter P concentration (+ 46 %). However, soil total P was not affected, as warming accelerated phosphatase and microbial activity, litter decomposition and returned P to the soil to maintain the balance of soil total P. P addition accelerated the immobilisation of microbial biomass P (+ 98%) and the solubilisation of inorganic P, leading to an increased available P (+ 222 %). Variations of available P due to nutrient addition and experimental warming were more sensitive in temperate grasslands than in alpine grasslands, and the responses of soil total and available P to nutrient addition depended on environmental conditions such as air temperature, precipitations and soil pH. The study provides evidence of how climate change may impact soil phosphorus.

“Nutrient addition and warming alter the soil phosphorus cycle in grasslands: A global meta‑analysis”, W. Hu et al., Journal of Soils and Sediments 22 (2022) 2608–2619 DOI

 

Annual and periodic P fertilisation in Chinese Inceptisols

18-year maize field trial suggests that periodic (rather than annual) P fertilisation results in improved soil fertility and prevents P loss from soil in the long term. Six treatments were applied, i.e., no N and P fertilisers; annual input of 0 kg P/ha, 25 kg P/ha, or 75 kg P/ha; periodic input of 150 kg P/ha or 450 kg P/ha every 6 years for three times (triple superphosphate, 45% P2O5 and 15% Ca). Both the annual and the periodic P fertilisation regimes provided sufficient P to meet the threshold of Olsen-P for maize (12 mg/kg Olsen P) in the tested soil. However, the periodic fertilisation resulted in a lower degree of P saturation and concentration of soil Olsen- and water extractable-P, but a greater P sorption capacity than those of the annual P fertilisation at the end of each 6-year period. 31P-NMR analyses highlighted an accumulation of organic P monoesters rather than immediately available orthophosphate when P was applied every 6 years. These organic P forms could be preserved in soil when mineral P addition is sufficient to sustain crop P uptake, and be mineralised in case of P shortage. Even though these results suggest that periodic fertilisation regime could improve soil P fertility and prevent P loss from soils in the long term, rainfall events subsequent to P application must be taken into consideration as they may increase the risk of incidental P losses.

“Periodic phosphorus fertilization is beneficial to lowering potential risk of phosphorus loss from Inceptisols”, Y. Wang et al., Journal of Soils and Sediments (2022) DOI

 

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ESPP members

espp members logos aug 2022

The EU’s “Expert Group for Technical Advice on Organic Production” (EGTOP) has confirmed its positive opinion that “recovered struvite” should be authorised in Organic Farming, but now widens this to other recovered precipitated phosphate salts. EGTOP also underlines that the “circular economy should be widely adopted in Organic Production” but with concerns about possible contaminants. EGTOP recommend that for precipitated salts from animal manure, this shall not be of “factory farming” origin. This new EGTOP Opinion thus recommends a wider and simpler inclusion of recovered precipitated phosphate salts into Organic Farming than did the EGTOP 2016 Opinion, which covered only struvite from municipal wastewater. The new Opinion effectively recommends that any recovered phosphate salt corresponding to the criteria of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009 CMC12. However, it is NOT clear to ESPP whether EGTOP recommends (a) that also “derivates” (as defined in CMC12) should be included and (b) that the product must have obtained the CE-Mark (i.e., undergone Conformity Assessment as defined in 2019/1009 Annex IV). ESPP hopes that the European Commission (DG AGRI) will now move rapidly to add recovered precipitated phosphate salts to Annex II of the EU Organic Farming Regulation. ESPP does not understand why recovered “calcined phosphates” are not included in this new EGTOP Opinion, despite they were positively approved by EGTOP in 2016 at the same time and under the same conditions as recovered struvite.
EGTOP’s report on fertilisers (V), apart from recommending approval of recovered struvite and phosphate salts in Organic Farming, also provides various general and specific positions on nutrient recycling in Organic Farming. In discussion of struvite, EGTOP notes that if soils contain stores of phosphorus, it is preferable to increase soil P availability rather than adding P in fertiliser, but also notes (in discussion of “bio-waste”) that there is a lack of sources of phosphorus and nitrogen for Organic Farming. EGTOP underlines however that recycled materials may include contaminants “such as microplastics, heavy metals, veterinary drugs or pesticides”. In detail:

Bio-waste: EGTOP recommends modifying current wording of the Organic Farming Regulation (2021/1165) Annex II which allows use of “Composted or fermented mixture of household waste” to become conform with the Waste Framework vocabulary and read “Composted or fermented bio-waste”. "This effectively widens to organic wastes from gardens and parks and food wastes from restaurants, caterers, retailers (as well as households) and “comparable waste from food processing plants”. The term “bio-waste” is already used in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (CMCs 3 compost and 5 digestate).

Bone char: EGTOP recommends that “bone charcoal” (Animal Bone Char ABC from Hungary) be NOT authorised for Organic Farming. EGTOP note concerns about levels of PAH in this material, underline that bone meal is already authorised in Organic Farming and conclude “no clear advantage of using bone charcoal, but a certain (not precisely quantifiable) risk” and that “non-pyrolysed bone meal and other permitted alternative P-fertilisers should be used in preference”. EGTOP note that nitrogen is lost in pyrolysing bone meal, PAH are formed and that there are no concerns about pathogens if bone meal is used correctly, meaning that pyrolysis is not useful.

Phosphogypsum: EGTOP recommends that phosphogypsum be NOT authorised as a liming material in Organic Farming. EGTOP recognises the environmental interest of phosphogypsum use in Finland (locally available from phosphate rock processing, alternative minerals must be imported) but considers that phosphogypsum does not “strictly” meet the Organic definition of “plant, animal, microbial or mineral origin” because sulphuric acid is used in its production. EGTOP considers that use of industrial by-products can support the circular economy, but that phosphogypsum should be excluded because it is a by-product of mineral fertiliser production, and these fertilisers are not authorised in Organic Farming.

Iron phosphates: EGTOP recommended that ferric pyrophosphate be authorised for use in Organic Farming, as a plant production substance, not as a fertiliser. Ferric phosphate (iron (III) phosphate) is already authorised as a plant production product (Annex I, part 2). Both ferric phosphate and ferric pyrophosphate are used against slugs and snails.

EGTOP “Final Report on Plant Protection (VII) and Fertilisers (V)”, adopted 8-10 June 2022 here.
List of EGTOP committee members here.

The EU project PHOSTER aims to deliver a sustainable, replicable, and scalable circular economy solution (TRL 4) for the recovery of secondary minerals and metals from sewage sludge ashes and mining industry by-products to substitute primary critical raw materials (P, Mg) in the fertilisers manufacturing. The University of Ljubljana will re-design sewage sludge thermal treatment by setting the recovery of secondary materials as the first-priority design parameter. Politecnico di Milano will work to optimise wet chemical extraction of P from ashes. Magnesitas Navarras will investigate the best mining by-products to promote the co-precipitation of P and Mg (Politecnico di Milano). Timac Agro Italia will test the recovered materials, mixed with other raw materials, to develop fertilisers complying with relevant regulations and market demand. Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (CEA) will evaluate environmental and social impacts of the fertilisers obtained from the recovered products. The different processes will be optimised together to maximise beneficial impacts for crops and the environment. The PHOSTER project proudly became a member of the European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform in the view of networking with the most relevant stakeholders in Europe and of broadly disseminating the project concept and results.

phoster logo new

PHOSTER is co-funded is within the ERA-MIN 3 framework. Project website https://phoster-project.eu/ and LinkedIn page.

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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EU consultations
EU consultation on nutrient management (INMAP) – open to 26th August 2022
EU seeks input on Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) CMCs
EU consultation on Soil Health

Policy
Massive increase in biowaste recycling needed
EurEau calls for resources reuse from waste water

Organic Farming
EGTOP approves struvite (again)
EGTOP on nutrient recycling, biowaste, bone char, phosphogypsum
Action on other recycled nutrient materials in Organic Farming

Nutrient recycling
Kemira and Veolia to pilot test vivianite recovery from sewage
European Commission policy brief on “next-generation fertilisers”

Climate change
Climate change and lake eutrophication
Swiss lakes: climate change, nutrients and biodiversity resilience
Lake Balaton algal bloom linked to climate change
Extreme rainfall events and agricultural P losses

Research
Microplastics are taken up by and can be toxic to crop plants
Excessive sewage sludge land application linked to nutrient losses
Optimising economic incentives for P-recovery in livestock units
Long-term field trials suggest manure application can increase labile soil P
Analysis of sewage sludge options and costs in Austria
Algae recycling of fire extinguisher waste
Vivianite an effective catalyst for UV oxidation of pharmaceuticals

Stay informed

ESPP members

EU consultations

EU consultation on nutrient management (INMAP) – open to 26th August 2022

Public consultation, open to individuals and to organisations, to 26th August 2022, asks for opinions and proposals on nutrient policies, fiscal and regulatory tools, and on nutrient recycling. In addition to the questionnaire, supporting documents or proposals can be submitted.

ESPP has input stating that the key pillars of INMAP should be:

  • reducing nutrient losses (Farm-to-Fork target)
  • nutrient recycling (Circular Economy)
  • R&I to support these objectives and to understand nutrient planetary boundaries and nutrient flows
  • INMAP should ensure synergy between nutrients and other key EU strategies: climate change, sustainable and healthy diet (Farm-to-Fork strategy), water policy, including integrating nutrient recycling into the Sewage Sludge Directive, Critical Raw Materials (phosphate rock, phosphorus), Specific policies: Methane Strategy (biogas), Emissions Ceilings Directive (ammonia), Algae Initiative, Aquaculture, Soil Strategy, chemicals and pharmaceuticals policies (reducing contaminants), etc.

ESPP noted in comments:

  • Facilitate Need for coherent policy and EU legislation on phosphorus.
  • Fiscal and market tools to monetarise the environmental and social impacts of nutrient consumption and support nutrient recycling.
  • Dietary shift. Healthier, more sustainable diets will have lower climate impact and reduce nutrient use in fertilisers and animal feed.
  • Climate change. Address links between climate change and increasing nutrient losses and eutrophication; between nutrient losses and climate emissions.
  • Implementation of Green Deal nutrient loss reduction targets and Water Framework Directive Quality Status obligations, and resulting water basin catchment plan actions, in CAP.
  • Recycling of other nutrients should be considered.
  • Absence of regulatory tools for nutrient recycling in most EU countries (only in Germany)
  • Inadequate tools for nutrient recycling in Common Agricultural Policy
  • Importance to implement EU ban on PFAS - a problematic contaminant for nutrient recycling
  • Need for full-scale nutrient recycling demonstration projects
  • Absence of EU End-of-Waste status for non-fertiliser uses of recycled nutrients and for materials recovered from wastewaters
  • Obstacles from local regulators to factories wishing to take in waste materials (secondary nutrients) for recycling to partially replace virgin nutrient materials (operating permit)

ESPP’s detailed input on INMAP can be found on our website actions -> regulatory page
EU public consultation on INMAP, “Nutrients – action plan for better management”, open to 26th August 2022, HERE.

EU seeks input on Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) CMCs

The European Commission has opened a survey, to 16th September 2022, on possible additional waste or recycled materials for the EU FPR (Annex II CMCs), on possible additional biostimulants micro-organisms, or other amendments to existing CMCs. Input will be considered for a planned Commission study to identify potential new ‘CMC’ materials or biostimulants micro-organisms which offer significant trade potential, agronomic value and safety. Proposals for materials can either be materials falling outside existing CMCs (possible new CMCs to add into Annex II), modifications of input specifications for existing CMCs, or other processing methods for existing CMCs. Existing CMCs cover (with limitations) composts, mechanically-processed plant materials, food industry by-products (limited list), precipitated phosphates, ash-derived materials, pyrolysis/hydrocarbonisation materials, some by-products and recovered minerals (see consolidated Fertilising Products Regulation and Commission information sources document 23/5/2022 here). Before submitting input, you should verify the texts of existing CMCs 1-15. The survey asks to justify Circular Economy, environmental and resource aspects, agronomic efficiency, and to provide supporting data on regulatory aspects, scientific studies, market data, including estimating existing and potential use and trade volumes. The EU FPR states (art. 42) that the Commission can only modify the FPR Annexes to enable market access for products which “have the potential” (for) significant trade” at the European (not local) level and for which there is “scientific evidence” of safety to health and the environment and of agronomic efficiency. Submissions should therefore justify such potential. Proposals for modifications of Annexes I (PFCs), III (labelling) or IV (certification) can also be submitted.

EU survey on materials for CE-mark fertilisers “EU survey on possible future development of the FPR”, responses by 16th September 2022 will be considered for upcoming EU study: https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/possible_future_development_of_the_FPR 

EU consultation on Soil Health

EU public consultation, to 24th October 2022, to support preparation of a future EU Soil Health Regulation. This general public questionnaire asks for opinions of individual citizens and organisations on the need for EU action on soil, causes of soil degradation, contaminated sites and soils, possible legal obligations requiring Member States to improve soil health and to stop net “land take” (loss of natural or agricultural land to urbanisation or infrastructure). A second part of the questionnaire (you will only access this if you tick “YES” after Q13) questions which parameters should be taken into consideration for soil health and at what level. Q17 (only accessible by ticking YES after Q13) specifically addresses the EU Green Deal target to reduce nutrient losses by 50% by 2030. ESPP will input underlining the importance of nutrient and organic carbon retention in and losses from soils – soil erosion, and the need to Integrate the EU Green Deal nutrient loss reduction target (halving of nutrient losses by 2030) into CAP Strategic Plans and conditionality of CAP farm subsidies, and into Water Framework Directive River Basin Management Plans
EU consultation, open the general public, companies, organisations, to 24th October 2022, “Soil health – protecting, sustainably managing and restoring EU soils”, on development of EU policy on Soil Health LINK.

Policy

Massive increase in biowaste recycling needed

ECN (European Compost Network) “Data Report 2022” shows that today only 17% of the EU’s municipal solid waste (MSW) is separately collected and organically recycled as compost or in anaerobic digestion (AD), and that this must increase to 35% by 2035 to meet the EU’s overall target of 65% recycling of MSW. Already Member States must, by end 2023, separately collect biowaste at source. ECN estimates that the increase to 35% MSW organic recycling will increase employment in composting and AD from 7 – 12 000 full-time equivalent jobs today to 14 – 25 000 by 2035 (around 80% of this employment in anaerobic digestion). Currently around twice as much (tonnes) biowaste goes to composting as to AD. In 2035, biowaste compost could be applied at 10 t/ha/y to one third of eroded land in Europe (4% of EU arable land) to increase soil organic carbon (digestate not included).
ECN Data Report 2022 here.

EurEau calls for resources reuse from waste water

The European water industry federation, EurEau, has published a statement calling for policy changes to enable recovery of resources, in particular nutrients, and energy from waste water, in order to address geopolitical challenges and climate emission reduction objectives. The statement highlights phosphorus, potential nitrogen recovery, energy recovery, carbon reuse, cellulose, algae, polymers and carbon dioxide. The statement calls for six policy changes:

  • Facilitate placing on the market of wastewater-recovered materials by aligning environmental legislation and circularity policy: REACH, End-of-Waste, Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, EU Fertilising Products Regulation …
  • Control-at-source for polluting contaminants
  • Research and innovation
  • Funding of energy and nutrient recovery by waste water operators
  • Energy and climate audits for wastewater treatment plants
  • Incite economic and public demand for recovered materials

“Call for a European commitment to better reuse resources and energy from waste water. Public statement”, Eureau (European Federation of National Associations of Water Services.), 24th June 2022 LINK. 

Organic Farming

EGTOP approves struvite (again)

The EU’s “Expert Group for Technical Advice on Organic Production” (EGTOP) has confirmed its positive opinion (2016) that “recovered struvite” should be authorised in Organic Farming, but now widens this to other recovered precipitated phosphate salts (coherent with the EU Fertilising Products Regulation CMC12 definition - here). EGTOP recommend that for precipitated salts from animal manure, this shall not be of “factory farming” origin. This new EGTOP Opinion thus recommends a wider and simpler inclusion of recovered precipitated phosphate salts into Organic Farming than did the EGTOP 2016 Opinion, which covered only struvite from municipal wastewater. The new Opinion effectively recommends that any recovered phosphate salt corresponding to the criteria of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009 CMC12. However, it is NOT clear to ESPP whether EGTOP recommends (a) that also “derivates” (as defined in CMC12) should be included and (b) that the product must have obtained the CE-Mark (i.e. undergone Conformity Assessment as defined in 2019/1009 Annex IV. ESPP hopes that the European Commission (DG AGRI) will now move rapidly to add recovered precipitated phosphate salts to Annex II of the EU Organic Farming Regulation. ESPP does not understand why recovered “calcined phosphates” are not included in this new EGTOP Opinion, despite they were positively approved by EGTOP in 2016 at the same time and under the same conditions as recovered struvite
EGTOP “Final Report on Plant Protection (VII) and Fertilisers (V)”, adopted 8-10 June 2022 https://agriculture.ec.europa.eu/farming/organic-farming/co-operation-and-expert-advice/egtop-reports_en 

EGTOP on nutrient recycling, biowaste, bone char, phosphogypsum

EGTOP underline that recycling of organic wastes is important for agri-food chain sustainability and that the “circular economy should be widely adopted in Organic Production” but underlines concerns about possible contaminants. EGTOP’s report on fertilisers (V) recommends approval of recovered struvite and phosphate salts in Organic Farming, and also provides various general and specific positions on nutrient recycling in Organic Farming. In discussion of struvite, EGTOP notes that if soils contain stores of phosphorus, it is preferable to increase soil P availability rather than adding P in fertiliser, but also notes (in discussion of “bio-waste) that there is a lack of sources of phosphorus and nitrogen for Organic Farming. EGTOP underlines however that recycled materials may include contaminants “such as microplastics, heavy metals, veterinary drugs or pesticides”

Bio-waste: EGTOP recommends modifying current wording of the Organic Farming Regulation (2021/1165) Annex II which allows use of “Composted or fermented mixture of household waste” to become conform with the Waste Framework vocabulary and read “Composted or fermented bio-waste”. "This effectively widens to organic wastes from gardens and parks and food wastes from restaurants, caterers, retailers (as well as households) and “comparable waste from food processing plants”. The term “bio-waste” is already used in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (CMCs 3 compost and 5 digestate).

Bone char: EGTOP recommends that “bone charcoal” (Animal Bone Char ABC from Hungary) be NOT authorised for Organic Farming. EGTOP note concerns about levels of PAH in this material, underline that bone meal is already authorised in Organic Farming and conclude “no clear advantage of using bone charcoal, but a certain (not precisely quantifiable) risk” and that “non-pyrolysed bone meal and other permitted alternative P-fertilisers should be used in preference”. EGTOP note that nitrogen is lost in pyrolysing bone meal, PAH are formed and that there are no concerns about pathogens if bone meal is used correctly, meaning that pyrolysis is not useful.

Phosphogypsum: EGTOP recommends that phosphogypsum be NOT authorised as a liming material in Organic Farming. EGTOP recognises the environmental interest of phosphogypsum use in Finland (locally available from phosphate rock processing, alternative minerals must be imported) but considers that phosphogypsum does not “strictly” meet the Organic definition of “plant, animal, microbial or mineral origin” because sulphuric acid is used in its production. EGTOP considers that use of industrial by-products can support the circular economy, but that phosphogypsum should be excluded because it is a by-product of mineral fertiliser production, and these fertilisers are not authorised in Organic Farming.

Iron phosphates: EGTOP recommended that ferric pyrophosphate be authorised for use in Organic Farming, as a plant production substance, not as a fertiliser. Ferric phosphate (iron (III) phosphate) is already authorised as a plant production product (Annex I, part 2). Both ferric phosphate and ferric pyrophosphate are used against slugs and snails.
EGTOP “Final Report on Plant Protection (VII) and Fertilisers (V)”, adopted 8-10 June 2022 here.
List of EGTOP committee members here.

Action on other recycled nutrient materials in Organic Farming

Companies wishing to see other recycled nutrient products considered for authorisation in EU Organic Farming need to propose a dossier to the European Commission via a Member State (national authority). ESPP has prepared outline proposals for the following:

  • Calcined phosphates
  • Recovered elemental sulphur
  • Bio-sourced adsorbents used to treat wastewater
  • Phosphorus-rich pyrolysis and gasification materials (inc. biochars)
  • Algae and algae products grown to treat wastewater
  • Vivianite
  • Recovered nitrogen from off-gases.

See attached to DG AGRI reply of 9/8/22 to ESPP letter of 12/7/22 under ‘Organic Farming’ at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

However, the European Commission (DG AGRI) will only move forward when a request is submitted by a Member State.

If you are interested to submit a request via a Member State, for one of the above or for other recycled nutrient products for authorisation in Organic Farming, ESPP can provide support.
Documents on ESPP website here.

Nutrient recycling

Kemira and Veolia to pilot test vivianite recovery from sewage

ViviMag® is a Kemira patented technology to recover clean Vivianite (iron (II) phosphate) by magnetic separation from sewage sludge or sewage sludge digestate. The technology was developed by WETSUS and Delft University, in cooperation with Kemira and the water industry The industrial automated pilot is installed at Schönebeck municipal wastewater treatment plant in Germany, by Veolia, since July 2022, and will process 1 m3/h of digested sludge, that is c. 15% of the sewage works’ total sludge production. The objective is to recover at least 50% of the total P inflow to the sewage works (proportional to the 15% of sludge treated). Dosing with iron salts is the most widely used and operationally reliable way to remove phosphorus from sewage and so prevent discharges into the environment, which is necessary to respect EU water quality legislation and to prevent eutrophication. Iron dosing is often used even with biological P-removal, to ensure very low P discharge consents. Anaerobic conditions (e.g. in sludge to biogas digesters) tend to convert iron (III) to iron(II), resulting in significant presence of Vivianite, which can be separated and recovered because of its magnetic properties. Vivianite has shown to be effective as an iron-providing fertiliser (see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°138), useful in calcareous soils with iron deficiency in parts of Europe. Phosphorus in Vivianite shows better plant availability than in iron (III) phosphate, but in soils Vivianite may tend to oxidise within hours to iron (III) phosphate. The success of the ViviMag project will therefore depend not only on the pilot-scale recovery trial at Schönebeck, and at other municipal wastewater treatment plants already planned, but also on identifying a viable industrial market and logistics for the recovered Vivianite.
Kemira – Veolia press release 16th June 2022. 

European Commission policy brief on “next-generation fertilisers”

A 2-page (plus references) “Science for policy brief” issued by the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC) says recycled and organic fertilisers show smaller carbon footprints and reduce nutrient losses. The briefing says that the European Commission has set a goal of 30% reduction of non-renewable resources in fertiliser production. This refers to a Commission press release of December 2018 (IP_18_6161) which estimated that 30% of EU phosphorus imports could be replaced by recycling from sewage sludge, organic wastes or manure. The JRC policy brief underlines that nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium all face surging costs and supply disruption as a result of the war in Ukraine and international trade restrictions. Organic fertilising materials are indicated to have 78% lower greenhouse emissions (for N) and 41% lower (for P) than mineral fertilisers (based on digestate and compost in Havukainen et al. 2018, DOI). The brief notes that various promising technologies for nutrient recovery and novel fertiliser products are already being developed, but that further investment is needed in technical improvement, including for recovering both energy and nutrients from manures.
“The next-generation of sustainable fertilisers: a win-win solution”, European Commission JRC Science for Policy Brief, JRC130293, 2022 HERE.

Climate change

Climate change and lake eutrophication

Review paper shows that climate change is likely to accentuate lake eutrophication and algal bloom problems worldwide. Based on some forty references, this paper provides a summary of how increased nutrient inputs (eutrophication) can negatively impact lake ecosystems: decreasing water transparency, oxygen depletion, excess phytoplankton growth, accumulation of organic matter and phosphorus in sediments, loss of biodiversity. It is emphasised, as is well recognised, that the accumulation of phosphorus in sediments can render lake recovery very slow (decades) even after P inputs are reduced. Recent studies suggest that combined phosphorus and nitrogen can stimulate harmful algal blooms (HABs), so that reducing N inputs is also important. Studies show that climate change has already started to impact lakes, including increased surface water temperatures (increases of up to 1°C per decade found), increased water evaporation, reduced ice cover and changes of stratification and mixing. Surface water warming can extend the stratification season (when a layer of cooler, deep water does not mix with surface water). This can reduce nutrient upwelling, so in some cases reducing algal blooms, but can also lead to anoxic deep waters and reduced fish production. Offshore surface waters may also warm faster than near-shore waters, leading to ecosystem dysfunction. Climate change will also result in increased frequency and magnitude of exceptional events, such as high rainfall events and summer droughts which can lead to higher nutrient releases. Increases in wildfires also cause P and N losses to lakes.
“A global problem: trends in nutrient loadings of lakes with climate change and increasing human developments”, 4 pages, C. Marti, Hydrolink 2021/1, LINK.

Swiss lakes: climate change, nutrients and biodiversity resilience

Decades of data from five peri-alpine lakes show that climate warming reduces plankton food web connections, particularly under phosphorus loading. 24 – 43 years of monthly data from Lakes Baldegg, Sempach, Halwil, Freifensee and Surichsee covered, at different depths, abundance and taxa of phytoplankton and zooplankton (grazers of phytoplankton), phosphate (DIP) and water temperature. Over this period, these lakes have undergone significant re-oligotrophication (reduction of anthropogenic phosphorus inputs) whereas water temperature has risen by 0.6 – 2°C. The authors conclude from the data that water temperature increases cause non-linear changes to taxa interactions, modifying in particular populations of small grazers (rotifers, ciliates, mixotrophic dinoflagellates) and colonial cyanobacteria. This reduces trophic connections, making foodwebs less stable and more sensitive to changes in phosphorus concentrations.
“Climate change and nutrient fluctuations interact to affect ecological networks in lakes”, E. Merz et al., Nature Portfolio, preprint 2022 DOI.

Lake Balaton algal bloom linked to climate change

The major algal bloom in 2019, despite low P inputs, was probably caused climate-induced lake stratification, leading to deep-water anoxia and so P sediment release (internal P loading). Nutrient inflows to Lake Balaton (Hungary, 590 km2) have been successfully reduced by twenty-five years of eutrophication management actions, including sewage P-removal, agriculture negative P-balances and 70 km2 of wetland reflooding. P-inflows (external P loading) prior to the 2019 algal bloom were generally below 2 mgP-total/m2 lake surface/day since 2000, compared to around three times higher in the 1980’s. The late summer 2019 algal bloom exceeded 300 mg -chlorophyll/m3 (50% higher than ever recorded in pre-management blooms) and was unusually dominated by Ceratium furcoides (dinflagellate) and Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (blue-green). The bloom was preceded by two anoxic P-release pulses. The authors conclude that the bloom was the consequence of climate change, with temperatures leading to reduced lake mixing (stratification) and thus an ecological regime change. New management actions will be necessary to prevent such blooms reoccurring, such as modifying lake water levels.
“Record-setting algal bloom in polymictic Lake Balaton (Hungary): A synergistic impact of climate change and (mis)management”, V. Istvánovics et al., Freshwater Biology. 2022;00:1–16, DOI.

Extreme rainfall events and agricultural P losses

Data for the State of Wisconsin, for 15 years at the HUC8 level (medium size water basins = c. 50 in the State), comparing weather, livestock and crop data, show that river water total P and N increase after rainfall events. River water concentrations of both P-total and ammonia-N increase immediately after rainfall events: +130% for P-total and +75% for N-NH4 after ≥ 2 inches of rainfall. For N-NH4 the increase remains significant for only around three days, whereas P-total remains significantly increased for four or more days. Also, the increase shows for N-NH4 only in Spring – Summer, whereas for P-total it shows all year round. The data suggests that nutrient runoff spikes are higher in areas with more cropland and smaller livestock units (rather than CAFOs = concentrated animal feed units). The authors conclude that climate change, which is expected to exacerbate high rainfall events, will significantly increase agricultural nutrient losses to rivers.
“Climate change and water pollution: the impact of extreme rain on nutrient runoff in Wisconsin”, M. Skidmore, T. Andarge & J. Folz, University of Illinois, conference paper 8/2022 LINK.

Research

Microplastics are taken up by and can be toxic to crop plants

Review of over 100 studies shows micro/nano plastics can be phytotoxic, impact plant growth and inhibit nutrient uptake, and can be found in crops, but impacts vary widely between different polymers and particle characteristics. Summarised studies cover a wide range of different plants, polymers, particle sizes, culture substrates and effects on plants. Tests often used high concentrations of microplastics (e.g. 2% w/w in culture substrate). Some studies show no effect, or even positive impacts (improved soil water retention due to microfibres), but most studies find phytotoxic effects, including reduced shoot or root growth, reduced biomass production, reduced photosynthesis. Microplastics can reduce plant nutrient uptake by adhering to the root surface or by oxidative stress to roots, but also by adsorbing nutrients and so reducing their availability in soils. Microplastics can modify essential mineral levels in plants (e.g. Ca, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Zn), which may inhibit chlorophyll synthesis. They can inhibit seed germination by adhering to the seed. Studies confirm that microplastics can be taken up by plant roots and transported to above-ground plant tissue, so potentially entering the human food chain in crops.
“Micro(nano)plastics and terrestrial plants: Up-to-date knowledge on uptake, translocation, and phytotoxicity”, F. Wang et al., Resources, Conservation & Recycling 185 (2022) 106503 DOI.

Excessive sewage sludge land application linked to nutrient losses

Increasing sewage biosolids use to 130 kgP/ha/y – 320 kgN/ha/y correlated to increased river P and N concentrations. In 2013, new State regulations ended Class B biosolids (sewage sludge) application in most of South Florida, resulting in a significant increase in application in the Upper Saint John’s River Basin (USJRB, 4 600 km2). Both total P and N application in biosolids, and area of fields receiving biosolids were already increasing in USJRB 1998-2013, but from 2013 both increased considerably further, with total nutrient application increasing around 4x and receiving area increasing around 2x. Application rates thus rose from c. 80 to c. 130 kgP/ha/y after 2013 and nitrogen from c. 170 to c. 320 kgN/ha/y. River total nutrient loads after 2013 increased by +40 to +200% for P and +5 to +20% for N. The authors estimate that this corresponds to 0.5 – 2 % of increased biosolids P applied, 0.2 – 1% for N. ESPP suggests that the higher biosolids application rates, after 2013, are excessive, because they are much higher than agronomic P requirements (see e.g. here), and that this shows that sewage sludge land application should be strictly limited to not exceed crop nutrient needs (balanced fertilisation), in particular for phosphorus which is usually “limiting” for this.
“Trends in phosphorus fluxes are driven by intensification of biosolids applications in the Upper St. Johns River Basin (Florida, United States)”, A. Canion et al., Lake and Reservoir Management, 2022 DOI.

Optimising economic incentives for P-recovery in livestock units

Modelling of credits for P-recovery from manure in the Great Lakes area shows net economic benefit compared to eutrophication costs, but risk of favouring large livestock units. The study covers six US states in the Great Lakes basin, with a total of over 2 200 regulated CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations of > 300 animal units (one animal unit is defined as 1000 lbs of live weight). In two papers, firstly a fixed subsidy for P-recovery (22 US$/kgP, corresponding to estimated costs of eutrophication) and an obligation to implement in all regulated CAFOs is modelled, and secondly a system of P-credits tradeable between CAFOs with various P-credit prices. Combination with biogas production was also considered with prices of 30 to 120 US$/MWh. Biogas production impacts the choice of which P-recovery technology which is appropriate, and so its costs. With a fixed P-recovery incentive of 22 US$/kgP, capital costs (CAPEX) for P-recovery total 2.5 billion US$, or 5.2 billion if combined with biogas. Considering CAPEX, operating costs, value of recovered phosphates and the P-recovery subsidy, total net income for CAFOs is 230 million US$/year. However, the subsidy tends to favour larger CAFOs where economy of scale makes P-recovery and biogas production more cost-effective. Although this may be environmentally effective in reducing phosphorus losses and eutrophication, appropriate adjustment of the scheme to ensure fair incentives is necessary. At 22 US$/kgP incentive, P-recovery is net profitable for around 80% of CAFOs, representing around 2.3 million animal units (it is smaller CAFOs for which it is not profitable). The study concludes that total phosphorus recovery costs are lower than the economic impact of phosphorus releases to the environment, so that phosphorus recovery is not only environmentally but also economically beneficial.
“Analysis of incentive policies for phosphorus recovery at livestock facilities in the Great Lakes area”, E. Martín-Hernández et al., Resources, Conservation & Recycling 177 (2022) 105973, DOI.
“A geospatial environmental and techno-economic framework for sustainable phosphorus management at livestock facilities”, E. Martín- Hernández et al., Resources, Conservation & Recycling 175 (2021) 105843, DOI.

Long-term field trials suggest manure application can increase labile soil P

29 year maize field trial in China suggests that manure P fertilisation results in higher labile soil P than mineral P only. The trial was in “black soil” (loamy clay), pH 7.5, at Gongzhuling, Jilin Province, China, with a temperate continental monsoon climate. Fertilisers were applied as control (none), NK, NPK and NPK+manure. N, P and K were respectively applied at 165, 36 and 68 kg/ha/year, except in the NPK+manure treatment where total N was maintained at 165 kgN/ha/y, resulting in total P doubled to 75 kgP/ha/y and K to 145 kgK/ha/y. The P application rate in the NPK+manure treatment is thus very considerably higher than agronomic recommendations. Crop yield was significantly higher in the fertilised plots (compared to control) within ten years, and was significantly higher with P fertiliser (NPK, NPK+manure treatments, compared to NK only) in the second and third decades. Calculated soil P balance was negative and soil Olsen-P remained below the China environmental threshold level (50.6 mgP-Olsen/kg) in all treatments except for NPK+manure, whereas soil P balance was positive and Olsen-P rose above the threshold in the third decade in the NPK+manure treatment. The proportion of labile soil P was also higher with additional manure application, suggesting that the application of organic carbon can increase soil P availability for crops.
“Effect of long-term fertilization on phosphorus fractions in different soil layers and their quantitative relationships with soil properties”, Q. Wang et al., J. Integrative Agriculture 2022 DOI.

Analysis of sewage sludge options and costs in Austria

Data from the 635 municipal wastewater treatment works (wwtps) > 20 000 p.e. in Austria (treating 98% of the country’s sewage) show LCA, costs and nutrient implications. Over 70% response rate for most parameters enables detailed analysis; Around 90% P-removal is achieved, mainly by chemical P-removal. Taking into account the fertilising efficiency in sewage sludge, only around 12% of P and 2% of N are currently usefully recycled. This is because 44% of P is currently landfilled in sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA) or in sewage sludge used in “landscaping” (22%). Most N is lost in sewage works in denitrification (71%). Wastewater treatment contributes c. 0.3% of Austria’s total energy demand, with N2O losses from sludge incineration being a potentially significant greenhouse emission if incineration increases (whereas these could be stripped from incinerator offgases). Greenhouse emissions from sludge treatment are highly variable, depending on site specific factors such as incineration efficiency, use of composted sludge in agriculture (fertiliser replacement value) or in landfill (no replacement value). Sewage sludge management and disposal make up 0.3 – 20 % of total wwtp costs. The analysis does not show clear differences between different sludge management routes, with variations depending rather on wwtp size, technology and local factors, but does provide a basis for future analysis and scenario development for phosphorus recovery options.
“Systematic data-driven exploration of Austrian wastewater and sludge treatment - implications for phosphorus governance, costs and environment”, A. Amann et al., Science of the Total Environment 846 (2022) 157401 DOI.

Algae recycling of fire extinguisher waste

Recycling of end-of-life mono ammonium phosphate (MAP) from fire extinguishers was tested by solvent treatment then use as fertiliser for microalgae growth. MAP is the main component of ABC fire extinguishers (see SCOPE Newsletter 127) and 100 000 t/y are generated as waste annually as fire extinguishers are serviced. The waste cannot be directly used as fertiliser because it is very fine powder and silicone-treated to ensure flow when used, rendering it problematic to handle and hydrophobic. In this study, eight different solvents were tested to render the waste power water-compatible, then it was tested for growth of several different freshwater and saltwater microalgae in 100 ml culture flasks. Several of these solvents showed to hydrophilise the extinguisher powder waste, rendering nutrients available for algal growth. Propan-2-ol = (CH3)2CHO (isopropyl alcohol) was selected for further assessment. The extinguisher waste treated with this solvent showed not toxicity to algae, and with Chlorella MUR269 showed good growth, nitrogen and phosphorus removal, even up to 2 gP-PO4/l. This solvent is readily biodegradable, but the fate of the silicone from the waste extinguisher powder is not indicated.
“Microalgae-based circular economy approach to upcycle fire extinguisher powder waste”, E. Nwoba, N. Moheimani, Resources, Conservation & Recycling 180 (2022) 106210, DOI.

Vivianite an effective catalyst for UV oxidation of pharmaceuticals

Synthetic vivianite was tested to catalyse degradation of tetracycline antibiotics by ultraviolet light and in synergy with peroxodisulfphate. Commercially purchased vivianite (= iron (II) phosphate [that is Fe2+] = Fe3(PO4)2. 8H2O – see SCOPE Newsletter n°138) was tested at 0.4g/l with LED UV light (c. 300 mW) and 10 mg/l of antibiotics, in otherwise clear water, pH 4.5, stirred. Three different antibiotics were tested: tetracycline, oxytetracycline, chlortetracycline. E. coli tests, the degradation products showed lower toxicity than the antibiotics. With ten minutes of UV, only 4 – 10% of the antibiotics were photolyzed. With addition of vivianite (no UV), 20 – 25% of antibiotics were removed, probably by adsorption, whereas with UV and vivianite this increased to 28 – 47%. PDS (peroxodisulphate, 1 mM) with UV (ten minutes) achieved removal of 47 – 55%. 95% - 100% elimination of the antibiotics was achieved by vivianite + PDS + UV. Addition of inorganic ions (chlorine, nitrate, sulphate, carbonate) showed to not significantly deteriorate the antibiotic removal rate. Because the optical absorption edge of vivianite is c. 442 nm, sunlight was also tested, and also showed near 100% antibiotic photolysis with vivianite + PDS + sunlight. In E. coli tests, the degradation products showed lower toxicity than the antibiotics. Tests showed that elimination remained at around 100% after five reuse cycles (reuse of vivianite and PDS) showing that these are acting as reusable catalysts. Iron leaching showed concentrations of iron of 0.2 – 1.4 mgFe/l (presumably showing some vivianite loss). The authors suggest that this could be an application for vivianite recovered from wastewater treatment. ESPP notes that further research would be necessary to test whether recovered vivianite shows the same photocatalytic behaviour and that the photolysis of antibiotics is likely to only be effective in “clear” water (allowing light penetration) relatively free of other organics.
“Effective elimination of tetracycline antibiotics via photoactivated SR-AOP over vivianite: A new application approach of phosphorus recovery product from WWTP”, X-H. Yi et al., Chemical Engineering Journal 449 (2022) 137784, DOI. 

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Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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EU consultations
EU consultation on nutrient management (INMAP)
EU survey on materials and micro-organisms for CE-mark fertilisers or biostimulants
EU tender for secretariat for fertiliser “Notified Bodies”
EU consultation on Environmental Liability
EU consultation on Waste Framework Directive and food waste

ESPC4 and PERM, June 2022

Regulations impacting nutrient recycling
Consolidated EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) online
ESPP requests European Commission to address obstacles to nutrient recycling
DG SANTE proposes highly restrictive use of Animal By-Products in EU-fertilisers
Reconsideration of recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

New ESPP member
PHOSTER

Calls for data
Pathogens and prions in Animal By-Product (ABP) and manure ash
Nitrogen recovery and recycling

Industry and policy
Animal Feed industry (FEFAC) paper on nutrient recycling in feeds
Fertilising products and EU agricultural statistics (SAIO Regulation)
Evoqua to take forward Ostara struvite recovery technology
Food industry sustainability plan
Nordrhein-Westfalen publishes P-recovery fact sheets prepared by DPP and FHNW

Research
Nearly half of global food production depends on mined phosphate rock
Increasing research into nutrient recovery
Main climate impact of phosphate fertiliser is in use phase
Phosphorus flows in Ontario
Another unhelpful Life Cycle Analysis” ?
Ignoring weather variation results in P-targets 50% too high

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

EU consultations

 

EU consultation on nutrient management (INMAP)

eu consultation news 67Public consultation, open to 26th August 2022, asks for opinions and proposals on nutrient policies, fiscal and regulatory tools, and on nutrient recycling. General questions ask for input on which impacts of nutrient pollution are important, different actors involved and links to other environmental challenges, including climate. Input is requested on what should be the key actions and policy tools (e.g. fiscal policy, financial incentives …), consumer actions (e.g. dietary choices) and whether INMAP should address nutrients other than N and P. A section on nutrient recycling asks to identify obstacles to recycling (e.g. cost, regulation, contaminants …) and priority actions to support nutrient recycling (e.g. targets, taxes, enforcement of legislation …). Supporting documents or proposals can be submitted.

EU public consultation on INMAP, “Nutrients – action plan for better management”, open to 26th August 2022, HERE.

 

EU survey on materials and micro-organisms for CE-mark fertilisers or biostimulants

The Commission has opened a survey, to 16th September 2022, on possible additional waste or recycled materials for the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, possible new biostimulants micro-organisms, or other amendments. Input will be considered for a planned Commission study to identify potential new ‘CMC’ materials or biostimulants micro-organisms which offer significant trade potential, agronomic value and safety. Proposals for materials can either be materials falling outside existing CMCs (possible new CMCs to add into Annex II), modifications of input specifications for existing CMCs, or other processing methods for existing CMCs. Existing CMCs cover (with limitations) composts, criteria, mechanically-processed plant materials, food industry by-products (limited list), precipitated phosphates, ash-derived materials, pyrolysis/hydrocarbonisation materials, some by-products and recovered minerals (see consolidated Fertilising Products Regulation and Commission information sources document 23/5/2022 here). Before submitting input, you should verify the texts of existing CMCs 1-15.The survey asks to justify Circular Economy, environmental and resource aspects, agronomic efficiency, and to provide supporting data on regulatory aspects, scientific studies, market data, including estimating existing and potential use and trade volumes. Proposals for modifications of Annexes I (PFCs), III (labelling) or IV (certification) can also be submitted.

EU survey on materials for CE-mark fertilisers “EU survey on possible future development of the FPR”, responses by 16th September 2022 will be considered for upcoming EU study: https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/possible_future_development_of_the_FPR

 

 

EU tender for secretariat for fertiliser “Notified Bodies”

The European Commission (DG GROW) has published ex-ante publicity for a tender for “Technical secretariat of the Coordination Group of Notified Bodies for EU fertilising products Group under Regulation (EU) 2019/1009”.

Pre-tender expression of interest, open to 15th July 2022, via TED https://etendering.ted.europa.eu/cft/cft-display.html?cftId=11419

 

EU consultation on Environmental Liability

“Environmental Liability Directive (evaluation)”, public consultation (questionnaire) to 4th August 2022. See ESPP eNews n°66 and HERE.

 

EU consultation on Waste Framework Directive and food waste

EU public consultation, open to 16th August 2022, “on the revision of the Waste Framework Directive”. One consultation with two different access pages: “Food waste – reduction targets” HERE and “Environmental impact of waste management – revision of EU waste framework” HERE.

 

 

espc4 perm5 photos 2ESPC4 and PERM, June 2022

320 participants in Vienna, Austria, and a further 80 online, from more than 30 countries worldwide, joined the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, making it the biggest conference on phosphorus ever worldwide.  With PERM (the 5th Phosphorus Research in Europe Meeting), a total of 20 plenary and parallel sessions showed over 60 presentations as well as nearly 50 posters, bringing a wide range of content on links between phosphorus and climate change; global, EU, national, regional and city public policies; recycling technologies; recovered fertilisers and soil science.

Above all, the Conference provided unique opportunities for networking, for the first time since Covid, with extended breaks, dedicated Swapcard contact and conference networking app, an exceptional social event hosted by Vienna City in the Town Hall’s fabulous Festivities Hall, a site visit and the young researchers’ get together.

All presentation slides and posters, and video recordings of plenaries and selected parallel sessions are now online in the ESPP Swapcard conference networking app space, accessible to all online and in-person registrants.

After this success, candidatures are open to organise the next European Sustainable Phosphorus event in 2024: contact ESPP.

Photos:
1 = (left to right) Jürgen Czernohorszky Councillor for Climate and Environment, Vienna City Council, Johanna Bernsel, European Commission, Ludwig Hermann, Proman (conference organiser) and ESPP President and Rainer Kronberger, Vienna City Administration.
2 = Conference room nearly full for plenary sessions.
3 = Time and space for networking during breaks.
4 = 300 members of the phosphorus community let their hair down and dance at the Conference Dinner hosted by Vienna City (photo S. Omelon with thanks)

Conference web page: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

All slides, posters, recordings are available to registrants only at: https://app.swapcard.com

 

 

 

Regulations impacting nutrient recycling

 

Consolidated EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) online

The European Commission has made available here the “consolidated” text of the Fertilising Products Regulation EU 2019/2009, integrating 1st technical amendments (ATP 2021/1768 of 23 June 2021) and the three ‘STRUBIAS’ criteria: precipitated phosphate salts and derivates, thermal oxidation materials and pyrolysis and gasification materials. Note that the consolidated text does not include the Recitals of the amendments, which can be found in the links included in the document indicated below. The consolidated text also does not yet include CMCs 11 (by-products, now published in the Official Journal 24/6/22) and 15 (recovered minerals, including nitrogen recovered from off-gases, pending publication), nor CMC10 (animal by-products ABPs) because texts to integrate ABPs into CE-mark fertilisers are still not yet proposed.

The Commission has also made available a document including links to legislative documents, CEN standards and Guidance documents for the FPR (23/5/2022 here).

 

ESPP requests European Commission to address obstacles to nutrient recycling

ESPP has asked the European Commission to address obstacles to recycling nutrients as “commodity chemicals”. Placing on the market of recovered phosphoric acid, phosphate or nitrogen salts, as commodity chemicals, is potentially obstructed by the EU Animal Feed Regulation 767/2009 (Annex II $1 and $5) which prevents use in animal feed of materials processed from manure or sewage, potentially e.g. phosphoric acid recovered from sewage sludge incineration ash. It is not feasible to place such recovered chemicals on the market if tankers leaving the recycling plant have to carry a label “this batch must not be used in animal feed production”. Commodity chemicals must be fungible, and are sold to either wholesalers or users who will take inputs from different sources for use in several different applications. ESPP has asked the European Commission to confirm that nitrogen salts recovered from off-gases are not concerned by these articles of the Animal Feed Regulation, coherent with the Commission’s statement that off-gases are not concerned by the Animal By-Product Regulation (DG SANTE reply to ESPP of 31_5_22, see under Fertilising Products Regulation at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory). ESPP has also asked the Commission to confirm that nutrient chemicals recovered from ash are not considered to be processed manure or sewage, and similarly for chemicals extracted from algae grown using manure or sewage inputs (see details in ESPP letter to DG SANTE 7_5_2021 at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory).

ESPP letter to European Commission (DG SANTE) 3_7_2022 at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

DG SANTE proposes highly restrictive use of Animal By-Products in EU-fertilisers

DG SANTE has still not made public proposals on how to include certain Animal By-Products (ABPs) into the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR), but has published slides suggesting this could be very restrictive and limited. Stakeholders have been waiting for these proposals since March 2016, when the European Commission published the draft FPR with an empty box for ABPs. The published slides suggest that four categories of materials should be authorised in EU-fertilisers under processing conditions already defined in the ABP Regulations (that is, as already widely used in national fertilisers in many Member States): that is, no additional restrictions for Cat2 and Cat3 ashes, composts, digestates, horns & hooves. However, other materials would be, under the proposal, subject to important market restrictions: packaging of < 50 kg, mixing with at least 50% plant material. This would mean significant restrictions for: Dicalcium phosphate and tricalcium phosphate (presumably meaning where derived from ABPs, esp. bones), Glycerine, Feathers and down, Processed animal protein (PAP), Hydrolysed protein, Meat and bone meal, Blood products. ECOFI and EUROFEMA have written to the European Commission objecting that these restrictions as very restrictive, unjustified and essentially exclude the use of these ABPs in agriculture, underlining that they have been widely used in national fertilisers in Member States for many years with no evidence of any BSE case traced back to fertilisers. ESPP does not agree that smaller packaging or mixing with plant materials will prevent misuse by feeding to animals instead of use as fertiliser. This will be further discussed at the EU Fertilisers Expert Group, with stakeholders (including ESPP) and Member States, 14-15 July 2022.

DG SANTE slides presented to the EU Animal Health Advisory Committee, 7th June 2022 here

 

 

Reconsideration of recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

Recycled nutrients, in particular struvites and recovered ammonia nitrogen, are back onto the EU Organic Farming Expert Group (EGTOP) agenda. Struvite and calcined phosphates from municipal wastewater were already “approved” by the Commission’s technical committee for Organic Farming six years ago (EGTOP 2/2/2016) but are today still not included into the EU Organic Farming Regulation. Since then, ESPP has supplied extensive information to the Organic Farming federation IFOAM, a “reflections” paper has been published by lead experts in FiBL identifying under what conditions recycled phosphorus could be accepted in Organic Farming, and the RELACS project has received EU-funding to assess (amongst others) recycled nutrients,. However, no real progress has been made, with the RELACS “Roadmap” proposing more discussion and more research (ESPP eNews n°66). This is regrettable in that recycling to avoid consumption of non-renewable resources is a foundation of Organic Farming, and Organic Farming risks losing productivity and soil fertility because of inadequate phosphorus supply (see Marie Reimer in ESPP eNews n°49). In answer to a written question from two members of the European Parliament (Peter Jahr, Norbert Lins), the European Commission has replied “Based on the recommendation in EGTOP’s final report on fertilisers, to be published soon, the Commission will take a decision on the possible inclusion of these products”. It is unclear what this means, in that the EGTOP minutes of 8-10 June indicate that “Recycling of nutrients (struvites, stripped nitrogen: requests from MSS)” are on the EGTOP work plan for later in 2022. ESPP has written to the European Commission (DG AGRI) requesting clarification (see www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory, letter of 12/7/2022).This letter further includes precise proposals for text amendments to Annex II of the Organic Farming Regulation 2021/1165 to include the following recycled nutrient products into Annex II of the EU Organic Farming Regulation 2021/1165: Struvite, Calcined phosphates, Recovered elemental sulphur, Bio-sourced adsorbents used to treat wastewaters, Phosphorus-rich pyrolysis and gasification materials (inc. biochars), Algae and algae products grown to treat wastewater, Vivianite, Recovered nitrogen from off-gases.

Comments are welcome to ESPP on these amendment proposals (see annexes to letter of 12/7/2022).

 

New ESPP member

 

PHOSTER

phoster logo newThe EU project PHOSTER It aims to deliver a sustainable, replicable, and scalable circular economy solution (TRL 4) for the recovery of secondary minerals and metals from sewage sludge ashes and mining industry by-products to substitute primary critical raw materials (P, Mg) in the fertilisers manufacturing. The University of Ljubljana will re-design sewage sludge thermal treatment by setting the recovery of secondary materials as the first-priority design parameter. Politecnico di Milano will work to optimise wet chemical extraction of P from ashes. Magnesitas Navarras will investigate the best mining by-products to promote the co-precipitation of P and Mg (Politecnico di Milano). Timac Agro Italia will test the recovered materials, mixed with other raw materials, to develop fertilisers complying with relevant regulations and market demand. Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (CEA) will evaluate environmental and social impacts of the fertilisers obtained from the recovered products. The different processes will be optimised together to maximise beneficial impacts for crops and the environment. The PHOSTER project proudly became a member of the European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform in the view of networking with the most relevant stakeholders in Europe and of broadly disseminating the project concept and results.

PHOSTER is co-funded is within the ERA-MIN 3 framework. Project website https://phoster-project.eu/ and LinkedIn page.

 

Calls for data

 

Pathogens and prions in Animal By-Product (ABP) and manure ash

ESPP is looking for data on sanitary safety of ABP ashes, and chemicals derived from such ashes (including ashes from manure combustion). Please send and references, reports, data analyses, etc to ESPP. We are continuing to engage with the European Commission to request that ashes from animal by-products (ABPs), and chemicals extracted from them, be authorised under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR).

At present, Cat2 and Cat3 ashes (including combustion of manures) are included in the text of the FPR (CMC 13) but are not yet authorised, pending modification of the Animal By-Products Regulation. We hope that a proposed text will be presented at the EU Fertilisers Expert Group 14-15 July. Industry and stakeholders have together been asking for progress on this for several years now.

For Cat1 ash, the European Commission has indicated to us that it plans to mandate EFSA to assess sanitary safety of Cat1 Animal By-Product ashes (see  DG SANTE reply 31_5_22). ESPP hopes that this EFSA evaluation will also cover non-fertiliser uses of Cat1 ash (e.g. recovery of phosphoric acid or phosphate chemicals for use in industry or animal feed or human food applications).

ESPP has therefore launched a literature and data search for information on sanitary safety of Cat1 ash, or of chemicals processed from Cat1 ash, contracted to Kevin McDonnell’s team at University College Dublin. The most sensitive question for EFSA will be possible detection of prions in ash (or capacity of ash to transmit bovine spongiform encephalitis). Any data on sanitary safety (pathogens, prions) in Cat2-3 ash (including manure ash) is also very welcome as supporting evidence.

If you have any such data or information, please can you let us know and send to ESPP (email below): copies of, or references of, published papers, reports, etc., copies of pathogen or prion analyses of Animal By-Product or manure ash, or of ash derived products, any other possibly relevant data. If data is confidential, please let us know so that we can ensure confidential handling without disclosure.

ESPP call for literature, reports, data etc. on pathogens and sanitary safety of Animal By-Product ashes (inc. manure ashes).
Please send information by 15th July 2022 if possible.

 

Nitrogen recovery and recycling

ESPP is looking for literature, technology information or data on nitrogen recovery and recycling of Nitrogen.  The aims are to identify technologies recovering Nitrogen from wastewaters, manure or digestates, food processing, etc., analyse development stage of these processes and identify key companies and R&D centres working in this area. We are also interested in data on sanitary safety of recovered Nitrogen products (pathogen data). ESPP has contracted a literature search and analysis to Atkinson Tumbure (researcher based in Ireland, with experience in New Zealand, Zimbabwe). Please send any reports, paper references or other sources of data to ESPP (email below).

ESPP call for literature, reports and data on Nitrogen recovery and recycling technologies.
Please send information by 15th July 2022 if possible.

 

 

 

Industry and policy

 

Animal Feed industry (FEFAC) paper on nutrient recycling in feeds

The feed industry federation notes the potential to increase “circular feed” and nutrient recycling in animal feed, whilst not competing with human food use, the need to address regulatory obstacles and the importance of safety. FEFAC underlines that circularity for animal feed must be in synergy with the feed conversion ratio (which indicates resource input efficiency, for which nutrient digestibility is important). Twelve examples of nutrient recovery practices are presented, including sugar production, beer brewing, industrial fermentation, grass bio-refining, dairy production, animal by-products and calcium phosphate from gelatine production (animal bones).The position paper notes that in practice, nearly none of the raw materials used in animal feed are of human food grade, for economic reasons. FEFAC emphasises that ensuring food chain safety in nutrient recycling to feed is essential. FEFAC suggests nonetheless that potential exists for increasing nutrient recycling to feed, that this should  be mapped looking at emerging circular economy practices, and that some regulatory obstacles should be addressed, where these are more rigid than necessary to achieve safety. In particular, FEFAC notes the problem of the outright exclusions of Annex III of the Animal Feed Regulation 767/2009 (see ESPP request to European Commission, above), and obstacles to use in animal feed of Cat 3 Animal By-Products as inputs for algae or micro-organism production. Spotlight examples presented, where regulatory obstacles are hindering safe recycling, are: insect farming, algae production, phosphate recovery from sewage sludge incineration ash, single cell proteins

“Circular feed. Optimised nutrient recovery through animal nutrition”, FEFAC 13th June 2022. The European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) brings together compound animal feed industry associations from 25 countries and the European associations EMFEMA (on-farm mineral mixes) and EFFPA (former foodstuffs to feed).

 

 

Fertilising products and EU agricultural statistics (SAIO Regulation)

ECOFI and EBIC say statistics on all fertilising products should be included in the new European agricultural statistics system (EASS), in coherence with the product categories (PFCs) of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR). The European Commission has proposed, within the Green Deal, a new regulation on statistics on agricultural input and output (SAIO), intended to integrate data on agricultural production (including Organic Farming), agricultural prices, plant protection products (PPPs) and nutrients. The proposed Regulation is currently under discussion by the European Parliament and Council. The European Biostimulants Industry Council (EBIC) and the European Consortium of the Organic-Based Fertilizer Industry (ECOFI) position asks that SAIO covers all “fertilising products”, not only inorganic and organic fertilisers, that is all PFCs of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR 2019/2009). The federations also ask that the EU’s economic and customs statistics system (NACE) be updated to cover all FPR PFCs and that statistics track fertilisers authorised for Organic Farming (in order to help address confusion between “organic fertilisers” as defined in the FPR, that is containing organic carbon, and fertilisers for Organic Farming, which can be mineral).

“EBIC and ECOFI urge the inclusion of data on all fertilising products in the Regulation on Statistics on Agricultural Input and Output (SAIO) in line with Europe’s Green Deal targets”, 9th March 2022

EU proposal for a Regulation on Statistics on Agricultural Input and Output (SAIO): Eur-Lex.

 

 

Evoqua to take forward Ostara struvite recovery technology

The market leader in struvite recovery from sewage and ESPP member, Ostara, has signed with Evoqua Water Technologies, a leader in water treatment technologies, for sales and implementation in Europe and North America. Ostara’s Pearl® system from Evoqua recovers phosphorus as high-purity Crystal Green struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate) granules from wastewaters, in particular from digestate filtrate in biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) sewage works, where this can improve biological P and N removal and sludge dewatering. Ostara has today some 24 installations operating or under construction worldwide. Evoqua serves more than 38 000 customers and 200 000 installations worldwide providing global reach to Ostara and enabling to offer synergy with treatment solutions including biological P removal systems and upgrading, denitrification, advanced anaerobic digestion and biogas production, ammonia removal, degassing, etc. Evoqua also offers innovative ballasted clarification and tertiary filtration systems (ballasted clarifiers) for P-removal applications (see SCOPE Newsletter n°141).

EVOQUA: www.evoqua.com/nutrientrecovery

Press release 16th September 2021 here.

 

 

Food industry sustainability plan

FoodDrinkEurope (the EU food and beverage industry federation) “Action Plan” targets climate change, packaging and nutrition, as well as food loss and waste and a circular and resource efficient food chain. Phosphorus and fertilisers are however not mentioned. The proposed industry Nutrition Action Project targets healthier diets and lifestyles, noting that over half of European adults and a third of children are overweight, including addressing “malnutrition and diet-related health conditions” and addressing in particular labelling and food safety. Nutrition is considered as mainly reducing salt and sugar, but also promoting “sustainable beef” or “healthy snacking”.

“Action Plan For Sustainable Food Systems”, FoodDrinkEurope, 15th June 2022 here.

 

 

Nordrhein-Westfalen publishes P-recovery fact sheets prepared by DPP and FHNW

FHNW (University of applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland) has compiled 11 fact sheets (in German) on phosphorus recovery processes with the help of DPP and the technology providers: struvite / calcium phosphate precipitation (AirPrex, PhosForce, Stuttgart process), EuPhoRe, Pyrophos, AshDec, Ecophos, Parforce, Phos4Life, direct application of ash to land, sewage sludge incineration ash use  in the fertiliser industry. The 2-page fact sheets outline the process, rate of P-recovery, % P in output product and plant availability (NAC solubility), and provide information on existing installations and company contacts. The fact sheets were commissioned by the German Land of North Rhine-Westphalia as part of a project performed by SWECO, DPP, FHNW, Talanwälte, Fraunhofer ISI and ATEMIS. Besides the factsheets, the project report contains an analysis of all relevant legislation, infrastructure of North Rhine-Westphalia, a characterisation of the relevant technologies, scenarios with cost estimation for phosphorus recovery in North Rhine-Westphalia and recommendations.

Nordrhein-Westfalen Steckbriefe (P-recovery fact sheets), in German, 28/2/2022, here and on the Swiss Phosphorus network www.pxch.ch. The complete project report here

See also the updated (6/2022) ESPP-DPP-NNP Nutrient Recovery Technology Catalogue http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/techcatalogue

 

 

Research

 

Nearly half of global food production depends on mined phosphate rock

The anthropogenic signature of soil-available phosphorus is estimated country by country worldwide, based on soil P pools modelling, fertiliser, animal feed and crop data since 1950. Country-specific modelling of exchanges between pools of stable and labile phosphorus in soils are combined with annual data  1950 – 2017 for mineral P fertiliser and mineral animal feed P-additives, livestock and manure, crops (and so model estimates of crop P harvest), human population and sewage sludge, modelled losses to water, imports and exports (international trade of agricultural products). Anthropogenic content of soil P pools before 1950 are assumed negligible. The study estimates the anthropogenic signature of the labile soil phosphorus pool, worldwide, at 45% (±8%), with Western Europe, North America and Asia around 60%, whereas Eastern Europe are around 40%, Africa 30% and Australia and New Zealand below 20%. Assuming that crop production depends on soil P availability, which approximates to labile soil P, this means that nearly half of today’s global food production today depends on phosphorus originating from mined phosphate rock. It should be noted that this dependency includes past application of mineral fertiliser (or of mineral-origin P via e.g. manure), i.e. includes “legacy P” in soils, so does not inform on the vulnerability of current food production to today's level of phosphate rock use, but rather informs on the combined past and present contribution of phosphate rock to current level of food production. The authors note, for example that a drastic reduction in mineral P fertiliser application would only slightly reduce this modelled anthropogenic P signature because P-recycling would impact both anthropogenic and natural P-fluxes similarly.

“Anthropogenic signature of global agricultural soil phosphorus”, full paper, published by Nature Portfolio  but still under review, not yet accepted for publication 7/2022 https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-1741339/v1 and “To what extent our food production depends on anthropogenic phosphorus?”, EGU22-7944 abstract, 6/2022 https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-7944 J. Demay, T. Nesme, B. Ringeval, S. Pellerin.

 

Increasing research into nutrient recovery

A literature review 2000 – 2020 shows exponentially increasing publications on nutrient recovery, with papers addressing mainly phosphorus recovery, and papers on biological recovery routes particularly increasing. A total of 1869 publications were found with phosphorus recovery, nitrogen recovery in the title, keywords or abstract, reaching 350/year in 2020. The number per year is increasing, particularly since 2014, from close to zero in 2000. China, USA and Australia are indicated to be the most prolific countries, but if taken together, the total from EU countries is higher. The authors consider that the number of publications today is not yet considerable, and can be expected to continue to increase with an S curve, maybe reaching maturity with a plateau of around 1600 publications per year from around 2040 (that is over four times more publications per year than today). The number of publications into biological routes for nutrient recovery is especially expected to increase. The authors also provide analysis on the most prolific journals, bibliometric attractivity and activity indexes.

“Technical advances on current research trends and explore the future scope on nutrient recovery from waste‑streams: a review and bibliometric analysis from 2000 to 2020”, T. Kamilya et al. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 2022, DOI.

 

 

Main climate impact of phosphate fertiliser is in use phase

Data modelling of greenhouse emissions from P-rock mining, fertiliser production and use on arable crops in China suggests that nearly 60% are related to crop production. This study assesses greenhouse emissions from phosphate rock mining (<10% of total supply-chain emissions), fertiliser production and fertiliser use on maize rice and wheat in China. Total phosphorus-related greenhouse emissions in China (for grain production) are estimated to have increased by more than five times since 1980 to c. 45 Tg CO2-eq. The authors note that fertiliser production in China is highly fragmented, with many small, inefficient units. Data is based on field fertiliser trials in a number of locations across China 2005 – 2014. The climate emissions from fertiliser use are based on the CO2 emission factor for using P fertilizer of 1.63 kg CO2-eq / kg P2O5 (Huang et al., 2017, Wang et al., 2017) and also on nitrogen climate gas emissions from MAP and DAP. This results in calculated total supply-chain emissions for MAP and DAP significantly higher than for TSP (mainly because of the nitrogen content of MAP and DAP) and lowest for SSP. The authors conclude that improving phosphorus use efficiency in fertiliser use offers important potential synergies with reducing greenhouse emissions.

“Synergies in sustainable phosphorus use and greenhouse gas emissions mitigation in China: Perspectives from the entire supply chain from fertilizer production to agricultural use”, H. Gong et al., Science of the Total Environment 838 (2022) 155997, DOI.

 

Phosphorus flows in Ontario

Project undertaken with financial support from the Government of Canada assesses phosphorus flows and recovery potential for the Province of Ontario, Canada, as part of wider effort to define and develop a Canadian Nutrient Recovery and Reuse Platform. The report on phosphorus flows in Ontario, led by Canada’s longest-standing environmental NGO, Pollution Probe, in collaboration with researchers, follows the stakeholder phosphorus forum organised in March 2018 (ESPP eNews n°38) which recommended studying P flows to provide a foundation for the creation of a Canadian nutrient recovery and reuse platform with regional hubs. The report concludes (fig.6, p21, see below) that the largest use sector for phosphorus in Ontario is agriculture, importing  56 ktP/y in fertilisers and 23 ktP/y in animal feed and animals. Chemical imports for uses other than fertiliser production are estimated at 22 ktP/y. The report looks at the “end use” of this imported phosphorus, most of which (56 ktP/y) goes into food products (crop food products, meat, milk and eggs), with other significant “uses” being chemicals exported (14 ktP/y), bio-ethanol production (6 ktP/y), P-losses to water (5 ktP/y) and phosphorus accumulation in soils (9 ktP/y). Unlike in some other publications, these identified “end uses” include intermediate stages (e.g. P in food products, which will be returned to crops via sewage or food waste, or end up in landfill) and uses where no P is finally present (bio-ethanol). P flows to composting and to anaerobic digestion, and P flows from municipal wastewater treatment to land application are also estimated in the report. The potential for phosphorus recovery in recycling in various flows is discussed (manure, slaughterhouse waste,
sewage, etc.). Examples of technologies and case studies are presented.

ontario

Figure 6 from the report: Phosphorus Flows (t/a) through Ontario’s Agricultural and Select Industrial Sectors (2019).
Note “greenhouse” in this figure means agricultural glasshouses and does not refer to climate emissions.

“Mapping Phosphorus Flows in the Ontario Economy”, Pollution Probe et al., 2022, 164 pages online here.

 

 

Another unhelpful Life Cycle Analysis” ?

A “screening LCA” on organic fertilisers illustrates, as is often seems to be the case, how Life Cycle Analysis can fill many pages to produce unhelpful “science”. This study claims to develop LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) and LCI (Life Cycle Inventory) for various organic fertilising materials. Materials such as sewage sludge, manures, digestates are compared to “commercial organic” and “commercial organo-mineral” fertilisers. In the Supplementary Information p10 ($3.5) comparison is also made to mineral fertilisers. The study suggests that the most significant environmental impacts of producing organic fertilising materials are in thermal drying and dewatering, but considers the impacts of producing raw manure as zero (LCA standard practice for waste). This is misleading, because sewage sludge or manure are not dried to produce fertiliser but for storage and disposal reasons, whereas on the other hand manure can be considered as an inherent part of livestock production, which has significant environmental impacts. Nitrogen losses during manure storage (ammonia and climate emissions) are taken into account, but not emissions during application and then from soils, whereas these vary considerably between different organic materials and different mineral nitrogen fertiliser chemicals. The study shows, as often in LCAs, that the results depend principally on “Deus ex Machina” allocations of emissions to input secondary materials and LCA boundaries. With the parameters applied, this study concludes that untreated manures and sewage sludge, and manure digestates, have the lowest LCA, (predictably, as no emissions are allocated to their production, and because emissions during use and from soil are not considered), that commercial organic fertilisers and treated organic waste streams have similar LCA with generally higher impacts than mineral fertilisers.

“Screening LCA of French organic amendments and fertilisers”, A. Avadí, The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment (2020) 25:698–718, DOI.

 

Ignoring weather variation results in P-targets 50% too high

Modelling for Lake Erie suggests that failure to consider natural weather variation leads to substantial over-estimation of environmental phosphorus targets and so inadequate actions. The modelling included agriculture and crop economics, the soil P cycle and decision makers perceptions of environmental risks. Environmentally “Risk-neutral” and “Risk-averse” management strategies were modelled, both based on average expected weather conditions, but when variability of weather is taken into account, both result in soluble phosphorus loads which are beyond fixed water quality objectives in one year out of two. If 85% reliability of achieving target P-loads is defined as an objective (taking into account weather), this requires a 30% reduction in P-inputs (additional to 16% reduction already required based on average weather) and leads to a 15% profit loss for farmers under “current” weather conditions, and a 23% loss under estimated climate change conditions (RCP 8.5). Cultivation of cover crops and of less nutrient-intensive crops are also required. The authors note that climate change reinforces these conclusions, but has less impact than taking account of current weather variability which already requires considerable reductions in P input limitations and changes in agricultural practices.

“Containing the Risk of Phosphorus Pollution in Agricultural Watersheds”, M. Wildemeersch et al., Sustainability 2022, 14, 1717. DOI.

 

Stay informed

SCOPE newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SCOPEnewsletter         
eNews newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNewshome
If you do not already receive SCOPE and eNews (same emailing list), subscribe at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/subscribe

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/european-sustainable-phosphorus-platform/           

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Twitter: @phosphorusfacts         
 

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espp members

 

 

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews067
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ESPC4 and PERM 20-22 June 2022 hybrid online and Vienna, Austria

EU consultations
EU consultation on nutrient management (INMAP)
EU consultation on sustainable food production
EU consultation on Environmental Liability
EU consultation on Waste Framework Directive and food waste

ESPP new members
Borealis L.A.T. will present cooperation with Vienna on P recycling at ESPC4
VaLoo: the newly founded Circular Sanitation Network Switzerland

Call for abstracts
7th Sustainable Phosphorus Summit (SPS7) 1 – 4 November 2022, North Carolina

EU Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP)
EU Commission workshop says current nutrient policies not sufficient

Policy
EU reaffirms intention to act on contaminants in phosphate fertilisers
EU communication on food systems resilience and war in Europe
United Nations resolutions recognise global phosphorus challenge
EU proposes progress on ashes from Animal By-Products (ABPs), inc. Cat1 ash

Research
‘Our Phosphorus Future’ report published 9th June
Overview of global P sustainability questions
Data shows no significant impacts of phosphorus intake on health
Nitrogen Use Efficiency for European farms varies from 17% to 75%

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

 

espc4 enews 58 2

ESPC4 and PERM 20-22 June 2022 hybrid online and Vienna, Austria

Nearly 300 participants are now confirmed for Vienna and online, 20-22 June, for ESPC4 (4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference), PERM (Phosphorus Research in Europe Meeting) site visit and young researchers networking event.

If you can’t make it to Vienna, register to participate online, now.

All plenary sessions and 4 (of 12) parallel sessions will be online (see programme).

We will be using SWAPCARD to enable contacts and networking between all online and in-person participants (accessible after registration only), one chat & forum for the whole event enabling questions, discussion and exchange of information, as well as your own profile, programme, access to session recordings after the event …

Confirmed speakers include the European Commission (DG Environment, DG GROW, DG Research, CINEA), international organisations, leading companies, scientists and stakeholders.

Registration: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

vienna news 67

 

EU consultations

 

EU consultation on nutrient management (INMAP)

eu consultation news 67Public consultation, open to 15th August 2022, asks for opinions and proposals on nutrient policies, fiscal and regulatory tools, and on nutrient recycling. General questions ask for input on which impacts of nutrient pollution are important, different actors involved and links to other environmental challenges, including climate. Input is requested on what should be the key actions and policy tools (e.g. fiscal policy, financial incentives …), consumer actions (e.g. dietary choices) and whether INMAP should address nutrients other than N and P. A section on nutrient recycling asks to identify obstacles to recycling (e.g. cost, regulation, contaminants …) and priority actions to support nutrient recycling (e.g. targets, taxes, enforcement of legislation …). Supporting documents or proposals can be submitted. See summary of INMAP workshop below. INMAP will be presented at ESPC4, 20-22 June, register now online.

EU public consultation on INMAP, “Nutrients – action plan for better management”, open to 15th August 2022, HERE.

 

EU consultation on sustainable food production

EU public consultation, open to 21st July 2022, “Sustainable EU food system – new initiative”. See ESPP eNews n°66 and HERE.

 

EU consultation on Environmental Liability

“Environmental Liability Directive (evaluation)”, public consultation (questionnaire) to 4th August 2022. See ESPP eNews n°66 and HERE.

 

EU consultation on Waste Framework Directive and food waste

Public consultation, open to 16th August 2022, asks for opinions objectives and possible policies for waste reduction, recycling and reuse, food waste, separate collection. Questions address opinions on general consumer behaviour concerning waste prevention and waste management and links to product purchasing, priorities, separate collection of different household wastes and consumer sorting, tools such as producer responsibility or economic incentives. Specifically for food waste, question concern policy priorities, stakeholders, obstacles to food waste reduction and possible policies to reduce food waste, including surplus food redistribution, packaging, best-by dates, monitoring, education or fiscal incentives, legally binding waste reduction or reuse targets,   

EU public consultation, open to 16th August 2022, “on the revision of the Waste Framework Directive”. One consultation with two different access pages: “Food waste – reduction targets” HERE and “Environmental impact of waste management – revision of EU waste framework” HERE.

 

 

 

ESPP new members

 

Borealis L.A.T. will present cooperation with Vienna on P recycling at ESPC4

Regional wastewater treatment plants and regional fertilizer manufacturers in cooperation: closing the cycle in nutrient management.

lat news 67Borealis L.A.T. operates combined NPK and calcium ammonium nitrate fertiliser plants at its location in Linz, Austria. The highly efficient Odda process (nitrophosphoric acid route) is designed to use more than 100,000 tons of secondary lime avoiding waste and unnecessary by-product creation. Borealis L.A.T. has entered into a nutrient recovery partnership with Vienna municipality. In a multi-partner cooperation, ash from sewage sludge mono-incineration will be used as raw material providing value able recovered phosphor for high quality fertiliser production.  Successful large scale technical trials show that the ash can be used in product of high quality fertilisers, and that logistics are safe. Challenges remain in the regulatory approval process and appropriate go-to-market approaches for recovered nutrient products.

Borealis L.A.T is a well-known partner of European agriculture, together with millions of farmers constantly striving for better yields and higher quality crops at reduced ecological footprint. Based on the concept of Nitrogen Use Efficiency, Borealis L.A.T provides farmers with directly plant-available fertilizers and digital services for  efficient use of  plant nutrients, like NutriGuide® -  fertilisation planning according to crop rotation principles and actual nutrient requirements; NutriZones®  - precise, site-specific nitrogen spreading based on satellite maps; N-Pilot ® -  measuring plot-specific nitrogen demand and delivering fertilisation advice within a few minutes.

https://www.borealis-lat.com/

 

VaLoo: the newly founded Circular Sanitation Network Switzerland .

valoo news 67VaLoo is the newly founded circular sanitation network Switzerland. The network exists of startups, companies, researchers, farmers and individuals that dream of a world where VALue is created form what normally ends up in the LOO. VaLoo’s members collaborate to promote and facilitate the implementation of resource - oriented sanitation in Switzerland. In recent years, many innovative solutions are being tested and implemented that can recover nutrients from toilets for save reuse in agriculture. In order for these technologies to scale up and fl­ourish, fertilizer regulations must include human excreta as a component material category(CMC) for fertilizers. Through our expertise, we hope to add to the ESPP mission for sustainable cycling of phosphorus as well as other nutrients via circular sanitation.

www.va-loo.ch

 

 

Call for abstracts

7th Sustainable Phosphorus Summit (SPS7)
1 – 4 November 2022, North Carolina

week_enews_67.pngSPS is the world academic and research conference on phosphorus sustainability, and will take place with the US phosphorus Week (US SPA, STEPS), 1-4 November 2022.

Call for abstracts for SPS open to 15th July 2022.

Previous SPS have taken place in Brazil 2018 (SPS6), China 2016 (SPS5), France 2014 (SPS4, see SCOPE108), Australia 2012 (SPS3, see SCOPE85), USA 2011 (SPS2) and Sweden 2010. Co-hosted by the STEPS Center (US Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability) and the US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance, SPS7 (3-4 November 2022) and the US SPA annual Phosphorus Forum (1-2 November) in Raleigh, North Carolina

Call for abstracts HERE for Sustainable Phosphorus Summit 2022, US Phosphorus Week (1-4 November, North Carolina) including SPS7 and US SPA Phosphorus Forum: https://phosphorusalliance.org/phosphorus-forum/

 

 

EU Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP)

eu integrated news 67

EU Commission workshop says current nutrient policies not sufficient

Participants underlined that nutrient recycling is needed to address food and fertiliser security, and pointed to soil health, nutrient controls in the CAP, sewage recycling, and to dietary change as the primary driver for nutrient demand.

The European Commission workshop “Towards a Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook” (24-25 May 2022), included a half day on integrated nutrient assessment and INMAP (the EU’s proposed Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan), with around 20 participants in Brussels and around 130 online. The workshop discussed policies needed to achieve the EU Green Deal (Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity Strategies) target to reduce nutrient losses by -50% by 2030, and monitoring and indicators needed to support this target for decision makers, industry and stakeholders.

Joachim d’Eugenio, Jeanne De Jaegher, Christophe Didion and Andrea Vettori, European Commission DG Environment, reminded that INMAP aims to define and engage actions, across all EU policies and with Member States, to achieve the Green Deal objective of reducing nutrient losses by 50% by 2030. The EU’s nitrogen and phosphorus emissions currently exceed the European share of the Planetary Boundaries by x 3.3 and x 2 respectively. The war in Europe and its impacts on fertiliser supply, phosphate rock resource supply and food affordability, increase pressure (see the Commission communication on “Safeguarding food security”, 23/3/2022, summarised below). DG Environment pointed to the public consultation on INMAP open to 15th August 2022, indicating that input is looked for on which policies and actions are need and on defining priorities.

INMAP will address:

  • integrated approach on nutrient pollution encompassing air, water, soil and climate
  • sustainable application of nutrients
  • nutrient pollution at source
  • sustainability of agriculture and other sectors
  • nutrient pollution hotspots and livestock production
  • nutrient recycling
  • shortcomings in specific legislations on nutrients and implementation gaps

Andrea Vettori will present the proposed EU Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP) and answer participants’ questions at ESPC4, 20-22 June, register here https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

Bruna Grizzetti and Diego Macias Moy, European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), presented the wide range of work underway in JRC modelling nutrient losses and possible reductions in losses achievable through different policy options.

JRC estimates that around 50% of nitrogen (N) and 40% of phosphorus (P) entering the food production system in the EU is lost to the environment (in both cases, around 10% of inputs ends up in food waste). Grizzetti et al. 2021 (see ESPP eNews n°55) concluded that implementation of current EU policies could reduce N losses to European seas by -14% and P losses by -20% only, that is not achieving the Green Deal -50% target. Modelling underway suggests that additional N and P reduction are possible with additional measures. Recycling of phosphorus could cover 25% of agricultural inputs, so making a significant contribution to the Green Deal nutrient reduction target by transferring phosphorus from regions with excess (livestock production) to regions with crop needs, but this is estimated at only 10% for nitrogen.

For nitrogen, modelling suggests that a reduction of N fertiliser application in N-surplus regions and an increase in regions with low soil N would result in a 6-7 % reduction in EU total fertiliser consumption and N losses with no overall loss to production. Enhanced implementation of sewage treatment could reduce N loses by 8%, climate policies under Fit-for-55 (N losses to air) by 11% and ambitious agricultural policies by 11%.

JRC underlines that even such ambitious scenarios for application of existing EU policies, taken together, remain inadequate to achieve the Green Deal -50% loss reduction target. Action is therefore needed on dietary change, extending Organic Farming and connecting livestock to crop production, with a food security aim of zero import of animal feed.

JRC noted that nutrient reductions and policy applications need to be region-specific. Concern was also expressed that reducing nitrogen losses more than phosphorus losses could lead to blue-green cyanobacteria blooms (replacing diatoms).

Ian Marnane, European Environment Agency, proposed for discussion various indicators for monitoring nutrient management, based on existing data sources, including algal blooms, nutrient levels in surface waters and Water Framework Directive quality status, consumption of mineral fertilisers, ammonia losses to air from agriculture and other sectors (Emissions Ceilings Directive). He noted the need to also develop cross-cutting indicators, concerning nutrients in food, health and ecosystems (to be defined).

Participants suggested that indicators should specifically address recycling, for example using Circular Economy and Critical Raw Materials indicators, see the EEA report “Sewage sludge and the circular economy”, May 2021, in ESPP eNews n°58. Roll-out of more efficient fertilisers offers potential, e.g. with nitrification inhibitors. The interest of the existing Nitrogen Use Efficiency indicator (EU Nitrogen Expert Panel 2015) was noted, with the question how to extend this to Phosphorus Use Efficiency?.

The need to harmonise Member State reporting on nutrients (agriculture, sewage, industry) was underlined by The Netherlands. The European Commission noted that some Member States are not reporting nutrients to Eurostat, and that it will be proposed to make this reporting obligatory.

In workshop discussion, the importance of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was emphasised. DG Environment indicated that although the proposed “FaST” (Farm Sustainability Tool for Nutrients, that is calculation of farm nutrient balances) has not been made obligatory for all farms, it is part of the CAP Advisory Service (see revised CAP 2021/2115 art. 15(4)g) and is now available online. Member States’ CAP Strategic Plans will be required to be “Green Deal” conform (including the -50% overall EU nutrient loss reduction target). Also, farm nutrient balances will be progressively required for all farms in Nitrates Directive ‘Vulnerable Areas’ under Nitrates Directive Implementation Programmes. ESPP notes that this raises the question of whether balances will also be required for phosphorus?

Discussion emphasised the importance of reducing contaminants at source in sewage sludge, to facilitate nutrient recycling, and the potential for phosphorus recycling from animal by-products (in particular, meat and bone meal ash), whilst guaranteeing safety. DG Environment indicated that the revision of the Sewage Sludge Directive (see ESPP eNews n°51) aims to reduce pollutants both at source entering sewage and going to agricultural land, in coordination with other EU actions (such as the proposed Green Deal ban of PFAS/PFOS Directive, see ESPP eNews n°49). Discussions are also engaged to possibly reduce the 50 mg/l nitrates limit in drinking water (EU Drinking Water Directive 98/83).

Participants also discussed how to develop nutrient recycling. Anders Finnson, Swedish Water and Eureau, asks for a “recycled nutrient quota” in fertilisers placed on the market, to drive demand for secondary nutrients. Cecilia Dardes, Fertilizers Europe, indicated that the industry is favourable to nutrient recycling, that around half of nutrient inputs to EU agriculture are already recycled (especially manure) but that around half of our food production is dependent on mineral fertiliser inputs.

For Liisa Pietola, MTK Finland and Copa-Cogeca, farmers need recycled fertilisers which they can use efficiently, which are compatible with their existing spreading equipment and which do not contain substances which may harm soil ecology.

The European Commission DG Environment concluded the workshop by underlining the need to identify economic and efficient actions, by improving resource efficiency for nutrients, crucial in the current context of food insecurity. The link to soil health was emphasised, and the proposed EU Soil Health Directive (EU consultation March 2022, see ESPP eNews n°64) will address the functions of soil for food production, biodiversity, air and water quality.

DG Environment also underlined the importance of the Member States’ CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) Strategic Plans and the objective fixed for INMAP in the Zero Pollution Action Plan (SWD(2021)140 - SWD(2021)141) to use “the green architecture of the new common agricultural policy, especially via conditionality and eco-schemes” to address nutrients. The Commission will require Member States to define their own nutrient targets in their CAP Strategic Plans.

ESPP notes that the revised CAP conditions payments to farmers on respect of certain specific points (regarding water use and phosphate and nitrate pollution) of the Water Framework Directive 2000/60 and of the Nitrates Directive 91/676 (revised CAP 2021/2115 Annex III, SMRs [Statutory Management Requirements] 1, 2, 8) as well as requiring that Member States’ CAP Strategic Plans should “contribute to and be consistent with” these two Directives.

The European commission concluded with the need to go across silos, to work with stakeholders in different sectors, with Member States and Commission Expert Groups, and with the importance of input to the currently open public consultation open to 15th August 2022, HERE.

EU Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook Workshop, 24-25 May 2022, including session on Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP), documents, presentations, etc HERE.

EU public consultation on INMAP, “Nutrients – action plan for better management”, open to 15th August 2022, HERE.

 

 

Policy

 

EU reaffirms intention to act on contaminants in phosphate fertilisers

The European Commission’s chemicals “Restrictions Roadmap” includes a proposed restriction under REACH of “Substances in fertilisers”, targeting e.g. contaminants in phosphate fertilisers. This Roadmap is part of the Green Deal Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and “prioritises group restrictions for the most harmful substances to human health and the environment”. The possible group restriction of “Substances in fertilisers” is indicated as pending discussion on the recent European Commission study (the ARCADIS report on risks of contaminants in fertilisers, July 2021, see ESPP eNews n°61) and possibly including “contaminants in phosphate fertilisers” and “other substances intentionally used in fertilisers”. Substances targeted also include PFAS (as a “group”), which is important to reduce these in sewage sludge where they are an obstacle to reuse / recycling (see e.g. “Swedish Water calls for ban on all PFAS chemicals” in ESPP eNews n°66).

“Sustainable Chemicals: The Commission advances work on restrictions of harmful chemical substances”, European Commission 25th April 2022 HERE and SWD 2022 128 (25th April 2022) “Restrictions Roadmap under the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability” HERE.

 

EU communication on food systems resilience and war in Europe

The European Commission recognises EU dependence on imported fertiliser, and the global fertiliser and food price crisis, and points to the need to optimise fertiliser use and develop nutrient recycling. The Communication indicates that the Common Agricultural Policy, through Member States’ Strategic Plans, should support practices to optimise fertiliser efficiency, so reducing their use. Dependency of mineral nitrogen fertiliser production on natural gas should be addressed, through “clean hydrogen” and “green ammonia”. Import dependency for phosphate and potassium is identified as a concern and actions to recover and reuse nutrients from manures, by-products, residues and wastes will be supported (e.g. EU Bioeconomy Strategy, Horizon Europe Circular Bio-based Europe partnership).

“Address by Mr Janusz Wojciechowski 23 March 2022 HERE.

“European Commission Communication "Safeguarding food security and reinforcing the resilience of food systems" COM(2022)133, 23rd May 2022 HERE.

 

United Nations resolutions recognise global phosphorus challenge

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) has again noted the importance of phosphorus in global water pollution and food security, but so far has not engaged action. In 2019 already (see ESPP eNews n°33), UNEA (part of UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme) recognised that crop production and food security are dependent on nutrient resources and proposed to support sharing of information concerning nutrient recycling. The 2nd March 2022 resolution of UNEA on Sustainable Nitrogen Management expresses “concern that excessive levels of nutrients, in particular reactive nitrogen and phosphorus, have a significant impact on species composition in terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems …” and recognises that “global crop and livestock production and food security depend on using nutrients sustainably and decreasing nutrient waste, including nitrogen and phosphorus”. The 2022 resolution proposes the development of national action plans for sustainable nitrogen management and development of the UNEP Working Group on Nitrogen, but does not propose actions on phosphorus or other nutrients.

UNEA (UNEP) resolution on Sustainable Nitrogen Management, adopted 2nd March 2022 HERE.

 

EU proposes progress on ashes from Animal By-Products (ABPs), inc. Cat1 ash

The European Commission has written to ESPP that inclusion into the EU Fertilising Products Regulation of ashes from manure and certain other ABPs is underway, and that assessment of safety of Category 1 ash will be engaged. ESPP submitted written questions to the European Commissioners for Health and Food Safety (SANTE) and for the Internal Market (GROW). The answer from the Director General of DG SANTE states inclusion of ash from (co-)combustion of manure and certain other Category 2 and Category 3 Animal By-Products is under discussion with Member States (it is ESPP’s understanding that a proposed text will be presented at the Animal Health Advisory Committee meeting of 7th June). DG SANTE also writes that a mandate is under preparation to request an EFSA Opinion on the safety of Category 1 ABP ashes, preparatory to a possible regulatory text to allow use of this ash in fertilisers.

ESPP is therefore interested to receive any data, reports, references of studies or publications concerning the sanitary safety of ash from (co-)combustion of Category 1 Animal By-Products (elimination of pathogens, in particular of prions).

Animal By-Product ash in fertilisers, including Cat1 ABP ash: ESPP letter of 25th April 2022 and DG SANTE reply of 30th May 2022 online at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

Research

 

‘Our Phosphorus Future’ report published 9th June

This project has engaged over 80 scientists and experts worldwide to develop a global report on P sustainability challenges, and aims to provide the evidence base for global action. Our Phosphorus Future was supported by the United Nations Environment Fund (UNEP) and ESPP. A call for a global science initiative on phosphorus was launched at the 3rd European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC3, Helsinki, 2018) with over 500 signatories. Chapters of the Our Phosphorus Future report address phosphate resources and uses, food and agriculture systems and consumption, water quality, recycling and recovering. The report’s thematic chapters have been circulated for review to the 80+ chapter authors and to further stakeholders and experts including the UNEP GPNM (Global Panel for Nutrient Management), members of ESPP and members of the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance North America. Over 80 pages of comments were received, reviewed by CEH, and then proposed changes validated by each chapter’s authors and, where useful, with consultation of other experts. An overview of the questions addressed in the ‘Our Phosphorus Future’ (OPF) report was already published in Nature Food, February 2021, see below. The conclusions of Our Phosphorus Future will be presented and discussed at ESPC4 Vienna 20-22 June 2022.

ESPP has contributed financially to the ‘Our Phosphorus Future’ project (OPF): the report is independent and represents the views of the authors, not of ESPP. Future Our Phosphorus Future website after launch on 9th June 2022 www.opfglobal.com

 

Overview of global P sustainability questions

A short article in Nature Food outlines key global issues of phosphorus sustainability, covering agriculture, water quality, food production and consumption, waste management, recycling, phosphate rock resources. The 3 page overview underlines that despite the known environmental challenges around phosphorus (planetary boundaries, eutrophication and harmful algal blooms), which are likely to be accentuated by climate change, phosphorus remains still largely absent from global intergovernmental agendas. Some targets are however now being considered, for example the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework working group proposed the target to reduce pollution from excess nutrients by 50% by 2030. This is now taken up by the EU Green Deal (Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity strategies) which fix the target of reducing nutrient losses by 50% by 2030 (see SCOPE Newsletter n°139). The UN Framework for Freshwater Ecosystem Management (2018, vol. 4) provides information to support countries in setting freshwater phosphorus standards. The Nature Food article underlines that issues are highly region-specific: in Africa, current trends of insufficient phosphorus fertiliser use could lead to 30% crop yield losses by 2050, whereas in other regions “excess fertiliser application is threatening water quality”. Actions to address these challenges are indicated, including reducing consumption of animal products in diets, phosphorus recycling (noting the need for regulatory and economic policy to support this), optimising livestock diet phosphorus and its uptake (e.g. phytase), addressing “legacy phosphorus” in soils and sediments, improving phosphorus efficiency of crops, better fertiliser distribution in poorer countries, public awareness and phosphorus footprinting, as well as actions to reduce impacts of algal blooms.

“Global actions for a sustainable phosphorus future”, W. Brownlie et al., Nature Food, vol. 2, Feb. 2021, 71-74 DOI.

 

Data shows no significant impacts of phosphorus intake on health

Analysis of US national data shows no meaningful associations between phosphorus intake and mortality and limited correlations with cholesterol, kidney markers or (lower) blood pressure. US NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data were analysed from the 1988-1994 through to 2001-2006 surveys. This survey includes test data on relevant biomarkers, such as blood levels of phosphorus, kidney-function markers, cholesterol and blood pressure, mortality and cardio-vascular disease data, and also a diet questionnaire. Natural and additive (food additive) phosphorus intakes were estimated from the diet questionnaire result using a commercial market database of food ingredients. Variables such as age, exercise were statistically compensated. Data from 12 000 to 36 000 participants was analysed depending of data availability for different factors. Total diet phosphorus increased from 1.3 to 1.4 gP/person per day over the period, despite a decrease in food additive phosphorus (from 0.18 to 0.16 gP/person/day). Total diet P was associated with increased blood phosphorus, but “No meaningful associations” between total diet phosphorus and mortality were found. Added phosphates were associated with small increases in creatinine (a kidney-function marker protein) and small decreases in HDL-cholesterol (of which reduced levels are a negative health indicator). Total diet phosphorus was inversely correlated to reduced blood pressure and slightly to total blood cholesterol. The authors suggest that phosphorus may reduce blood pressure by increasing parathyroid hormone levels. The authors note that natural phosphorus in food and phosphorus in food additives appear to have disparate health effects and recommend that better information is needed on phosphorus food additive levels in diet, further research is needed to better understand possible differing health impacts of natural and added phosphates, and that regulators should consider defining different dietary specifications for natural and for food additive phosphorus in diets.

“Association of Total, Added, and Natural Phosphorus Intakes with Biomarkers of Health Status and Mortality in Healthy Adults in the United States”, K. Fulgoni et al., Nutrients 2022, 14, 1738 HERE.

 

Nitrogen Use Efficiency for European farms varies from 17% to 75%

Study of 1 240 farms of different types across Europe shows mean NUE (Nitrogen Use Efficiency) adjusted for externalisations from <20 % for dairy to > 60% for arable, with top quartile of arable achieving 75% NUE. Externalisation takes into account N used in production of imported animal feed and N losses related to exported manure. These levels of NUE correspond to a mean N “emission intensity” of around 3, ranging from below 1 to 8 for dairy farms (calculated as N surplus / N output).Arable farms mostly show N emission intensity 0.5 – 1.5, but with a few farms up to 8. This corresponds to median N surpluses of around 70 kgN/ha for arable and 155 kgN/ha for dairy farms. Pig farms are considerably more N efficient than dairy, but still around twice as inefficient as arable. The authors suggest “modest targets” for NUE of 19% for dairy, 23% for pig farms, and 61% for arable, these being the current median. This would (by definition) imply improvement for half of existing farms, but ESPP suggests it is highly unambitious and that a more appropriate target would be the Q1 (lowest 25% of farms), which is not significantly lower for livestock but is 25% lower for arable (17%, 21%, 45%).

“Exploring nitrogen indicators of farm performance among farm types across several European case studies”, M. Quemeda et al., Agricultural Systems, vol. 177, Jan. 2020, 102689 DOI.

 

Stay informed

SCOPE newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SCOPEnewsletter         
eNews newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNewshome
If you do not already receive SCOPE and eNews (same emailing list), subscribe at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/subscribe

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/european-sustainable-phosphorus-platform/           

Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

Twitter: @phosphorusfacts         
 

ESPP members

espp members

 

 

Public consultation, open to 26th August 2022, asks for opinions and proposals on nutrient policies, fiscal and regulatory tools, and on nutrient recycling. General questions ask for input on which impacts of nutrient pollution are important, different actors involved and links to other environmental challenges, including climate. Input is requested on what should be the key actions and policy tools (e.g. fiscal policy, financial incentives …), consumer actions (e.g. dietary choices) and whether INMAP should address nutrients other than N and P. A section on nutrient recycling asks to identify obstacles to recycling (e.g. cost, regulation, contaminants …) and priority actions to support nutrient recycling (e.g. targets, taxes, enforcement of legislation …). Supporting documents or proposals can be submitted.

EU public consultation on INMAP, “Nutrients – action plan for better management”, open to 26th August 2022, HERE.

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews066
Download as PDF

 

ESPC4 and PERM 20-22 June 2022

Looking for research support for literature search tasks

“Legacy Phosphorus” in soils: SCOPE Special published

EU tenders, consultations, meetings
EU tender to develop guidance for EU Fertilising Products technical documentation
EU online information meeting on Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) implementation
EU consultation on circular economy monitoring
EU consultation on sustainable food production
EU consultation on Environmental Liability

Policy
Update: P-recovery in proposed EU green investment list (“Taxonomy”)
ESPP pushes nitrogen recovery in Waste Gas BAT BREF
Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) revision targets Circular Economy
European Commission not positive on “RENURE”
EFSA paper on research on food & feed safety and the Circular Economy
Scientists say EU needs a “nutrient directive”
Swedish Water calls for ban on all PFAS chemicals
US 250 M$ funding for “American-made”, innovative fertiliser investments
US EPA aims to accelerate actions against eutrophication

Research
“Roadmap” for new nutrient sources for Organic Farming
Higher P fertiliser needed to achieve Sustainable Development goals
Perspectives for sewage nutrient recycling in Austria
P-recovery headed to replace nearly half of German mineral P fertiliser use
Recycling P from fish processing waste to fish feed
Scenarios for future phosphorus demand for batteries
Analysing contaminants in wastewater recovered materials
Phosphorus is most widely limiting nutrient on land

Stay informed


ESPP members

 

ESPC4 and PERM 20-22 June 2022

 

espc4 enews 58 2

Updated programmes, including speakers for parallel sessions and posters, are now online for ESPC4 (4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference) and PERM (Phosphorus Research in Europe Meeting), plus site visit and young researchers networking event, 20-22 June 2022, Vienna, Austria. Nearly 200 participants are already registered. Make sure YOU don’t miss the first major international meeting on sustainable nutrients since the start of Covid, with the European Commission and international organisations, leading companies, scientists and stakeholders. Networking tools will ensure information sharing, contacts and exchange between participants. Register now. Capacity is limited to 300.

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

Looking for research support for literature search tasks

 

ESPP is looking for researchers to carry out, in coming 3-6 months, paid, one-off literature search – analysis tasks on nitrogen recovery and on safety of animal by-product ashes. Offers are welcome for one or both of these two separate tasks from research students, institutes, individuals or other organisations. Offers are requested (price, short outline of method and data bases to be used, CV and relevant knowledge) by 31st May 2022. Full details of tasks can be found on the ESPP website HERE.

“Legacy Phosphorus” in soils: SCOPE Special published

 

ESPP’s SCOPE Newsletter Special Issue (with BOKU) on “Legacy Phosphorus” accumulation in agricultural soils, maintaining crop yields and minimising losses to water, is now published (download here). This SCOPE Newsletter Special outlines presentations and conclusions of the ESPP – BOKU webinar, 2nd February 2022, and summarises 19 selected key, recent scientific publications. Themes covered include: defining “Legacy P”, data and long-term trials, modelling the time needed for P “draw-down”, what is a “significant” reduction to crop yield?, phosphorus traps and management practices, agronomic recommendations, crop P efficiency, challenges of soil P testing.

ESPP – BOKU SCOPE Newsletter n°142 Special Issue (May 2022) “Legacy Phosphorus in agricultural soils: Maintaining crop yields and minimising losses to water” www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Scope142

 

 

EU tenders, consultations, meetings

 

 

EU tender to develop guidance for EU Fertilising Products technical documentation

The European Commission (DG GROW) has announced a tender (“low-value contracts procedure”) to support development of guidance for technical documentation for CE-mark products under the FPR. Deadline for submitting interest: 25th May 2022. The supplier will draft a proposed Guidance Document for elaboration of technical documentation necessary for Conformity Assessment of EU Fertilising Products under Regulation 2019/1009, intended for use by companies wishing to obtain the CE-mark for their products to place on the market, and also for Notified Bodies and market surveillance authorities.

European Commission “Ex-ante publicity of middle and low-value contracts” HERE or contact DG GROW.
Deadline for submitting interest: 25th May 202

 

 

EU online information meeting on Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) implementation

23rd May 2022 10h-17h online (registration deadline 16th May), European Commission (DG GROW) information event for companies, Member States and stakeholders on FPR implementation, inc. conformity assessment, REACH, transitional arrangements and harmonisation. Possibility to submit questions in advance to the European Commission using the registration form HERE: it is requested to check that questions are not already addressed in the Commission’s online “Frequently Asked Questions” document before submitting.

Registration (deadline 16th may 2022) HERE Meeting agenda and other information HERE (direct link).on CIRCA in the publicly available “Commission Expert Group on Fertilising Products” dossier.

 

 

EU consultation on circular economy monitoring

EU public consultation, open to 3rd June 2022, on indicators for monitoring EU circular economy policies, with the aim of updating the ten existing indicators here. The existing indicators are aluminium (EU self-sufficiency, end-of-life recycling rate); municipal waste generation and recycling rate; all non-mineral waste generation and recycling rate; food waste; recovery rates for packaging, e-waste and construction waste; overall circularity rate for all materials, trade in recyclable raw materials, private investment and jobs in circular economy, number of patents, green public procurement. The consultation document states as objectives new indicators will focus on areas of the 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan (ESPP eNews n°42), in which “Food, water and nutrients” are one of seven targeted value chains, and on links between circular economy and climate and zero pollution policies. Objectives are also to develop material footprints. In all cases, indicators will be based on available data sources, from either official statistics or science.

ESPP will input to suggest that the following indicators should be added:

  • EU self-sufficiency and end-of-life recycling should be included for all EU CRMs (Critical Raw Materials, including ‘Phosphate Rock’ = P in any form, and ‘Phosphorus’ = white phosphorus - P4), as well as for aluminium (bauxite is a CRM). Data is collected by EU JRC for regular updates of the CRM list.
  • Reuse/recycling rate for resources in wastewater: nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), organic carbon, water – see recommendations of Preisner, Smol et al., 2022, in ESPP eNews n°64. Data should be available in Member State reporting for the Urban Waste Water Treatment and Sludge Directives.
  • Recycling rates for nutrients in agri-food waste. Food waste should be monitored not only in “tonnage” but also in nutrient content (see e.g. study by Nestlé and WRAP UK in ESPP eNews n°36). Food industry by-products, including slaughterhouse wastes and animal by-products, should also be included, because these are probably an overall more significant secondary resource than end-of-chain food waste.
  • Total losses of phosphorus to surface waters, as this is indicative of non-circularity and is also linked to climate change, in that climate change accentuates eutrophication but also eutrophication can lead to significant methane losses (see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°137). Data should be available through European Environment Agency statistics and Water Framework Directive Member State reporting.
  • % of nutrients applied to farmland coming from secondary sources versus mineral fertilisers (for phosphorus, nitrogen). Data should be available through Common Agricultural Policy nutrient farm balance reporting.
  • Levels of contaminants in secondary materials which pose obstacles to reuse and recycling, in particular PFAS in sewage sludge, pharmaceuticals in manure and in sewage sludge. Data is available in Water Framework Watch List monitoring and in science publications.
  • Phosphorus footprint of EU food production, indicative of final consumption of the CRM ‘Phosphate Rock’, of food-chain nutrient efficiency and of phosphorus recycling. Recognised methodologies exist, see e.g. phosphorus footprint of food in Brussels, Papangelou et al.2021 in ESPP eNews n°58.

EU public consultation, open to 3rd June 2022, “Circular economy monitoring framework - revision” HERE. Input is 4000 characters max text plus optional document upload.

 

 

 

 

EU consultation on sustainable food production

EU public consultation, open to 21st July 2022, on food sustainability and resilience. The declared objective is to develop a horizontal framework law on food systems to ensure an integrated food system approach. The Commission aims to address links between health, environment and food, including long-term food security, taking into account impacts on climate, biodiversity, rural livelihoods and competitivity, reductions in pesticide use and pressures on water, soil and air quality, animal welfare. The public questionnaire addresses aspects such as consumer information, costs and prices, standards, research, which stakeholders should be engaged, policy approaches, governance and which environmental and social aspects should be prioritised (including circularity, Q9). Specific questions address food sustainability information and labelling, public procurement of food for schools and public institutions, certain aspects of dietary choice (sugars, salt, saturated fats, red meat …), food advertising and marketing.

EU public consultation, open to 21st July 2022, “Sustainable EU food system – new initiative” HERE.

 

 

EU consultation on Environmental Liability

Public consultation to 4th August 2022 seeks input to the evaluation of the Environmental Liability Directive 2004/35/EC. Questions for the general public and specialist stakeholders seek views on objectives and priorities, effectiveness in supporting the polluter-pays principle and in preventing environmental damage, mandatory financial guarantees and insurance, implementation of the existing Environmental Liability Directive and interactions with national regulations, reporting and access to information, exemptions, applications to groups of companies and multinationals, cost effectiveness of the Directive.

“Environmental Liability Directive (evaluation)”, public consultation (questionnaire) to 4th August 2022 HERE.

 

 

 

Policy

 

Update: P-recovery in proposed EU green investment list (“Taxonomy”)

The final EU report on sustainable finance (the “Taxonomy”) continues to include ‘Phosphorus recovery from waste water’ as a listed technology eligible for green investment funding. This follows a public consultation on the draft report in September 2021. Technical corrections from ESPP’s input to this public consultation have been taken into account in the finalised report (clarifications regarding recovery routes, phosphate rock/white phosphorus as Critical Raw Materials, inclusion of reference to the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation …), but ESPP’s proposals for substantive changes have not been included. ESPP strongly welcomes that phosphorus recovery is included in the EU’s proposed list of some 60 economic activities eligible for green funding, but regrets that only recovery of phosphorus is considered (not e.g. nitrogen or potassium recovery), that only recovery from municipal waste water is included (not e.g. from manure, animal by-products or food waste). ESPP welcomes that the criteria have been somewhat widened to include recovery in the waste water treatment plant (wwtp), stating “mainly phosphate salts …”, with a minimum recovery rate of 15% of wwtp incoming P, or after incineration with a minimum 80% recovery from the input material (ash). ESPP welcomes that the recovered P must “be a material with a real market demand … ensuring its reasonable functional use”.

“Platform on Sustainable Finance’s report with recommendations on technical screening criteria for the four remaining environmental objectives of the EU taxonomy” 127 pages, and Annex 675 pages, published by the European Commission 30th March 2022 HERE.

 

ESPP pushes nitrogen recovery in Waste Gas BAT BREF

As a member of the EU Industrial Emissions Directive Forum, ESPP has made input to the draft update of the Common Waste Gas Management in the Chemical Sector Best Available Techniques document. The draft document shows that although abatement of ammonia and nitrogen / nitrous oxide emissions is widespread, recovery is today little implemented. ESPP has input that EMS (Environmental Management Systems) should identify recovery potential and opportunities in gaseous waste streams and possible technologies for recovery, reuse or recycling, in particular of nitrogen, as a function of technical feasibility and logistics (potential recovery quantity). ESPP notes that a range of recovery technologies exist including “scrubbing” and regenerative adsorption or precipitation. The European Commission has responded that recovery is already included through other channels in this BREF (in particular BAT4 which requires an “integrated waste strategy … including recovery”) and that the currently underway (see below) revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive aims to better align with circular economy and climate objectives.

“Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Document for Common Waste Gas Management and Treatment Systems in the Chemical Sector”, draft for update https://eippcb.jrc.ec.europa.eu/reference/

 

Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) revision targets Circular Economy

The European Commission has published the legislative proposal for the IED which fixes environmental requirements for permitted installations in Europe. Key proposals include Circular Economy objectives, and widening to livestock. The Industrial Emissions Directive (which will become the Industrial Emissions Portal Regulation) defines conditions for the BAT BREF documents which are legally applicable to all permitted installations in Europe in covered sectors (some 50 000 sites today). The revision aims include contributing to resource efficiency and the Circular Economy, reducing toxic chemical use, improving coherence on water, air and greenhouse emissions, enhancing innovation and widening scope, in particular to livestock production (at present only large pig and poultry farms are covered, not cattle production and not smaller rearing units). ESPP’s input to the prior consultations underlined Circular Economy, innovation and the livestock sector (21_4_2021). The Commission’s regulatory proposal will now go to the European Parliament and Council.

IED revision “Proposal for a Regulation of the Industrial Emissions Portal”, 4th April 2022 https://ec.europa.eu/environment/publications/proposal-regulation-industrial-emissions-portal_en

 

 

European Commission not positive on “RENURE”

In an answer to a European Parliamentary question, the European Commission shows no intention to authorise use of “RENURE” (SafeManure) materials above N application limits in Nitrates Directive Vulnerable Zones. The question from a Flanders MEP, a region with high livestock density, Tom Vandenkendelaere, suggested that the manure-based materials assessed by the JRC “RENURE” report could be temporarily “derogated” from Nitrates Vulnerable Zone manure N application limits as a response to current price and supply pressure on fertilisers. The Commission reply notes that manure N application is not limited outside Nitrates Directive identified “Vulnerable Areas” and that no Member State has to date requested a derogation for RENURE materials, and reminds that the Farm-to-Fork targets of reducing nutrient losses by 50% by 2030, this reducing fertiliser use by 20%. The Commission states that the Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP), under preparation (public consultation closed April 2022, see ESPP eNews n°65) “will consider further options for recycling nutrients in a holistic approach to reduce nutrients pollution”.

ESPP has expressed concerns about the RENURE agronomic criteria as published, which specify (inorganic N/total N) and (organic carbon/total N) ratios, can be met by certain untreated manures, most liquid fractions of manure, or by raw manure spiked with 10% urea (see ESPP eNews n°47). Such materials would be excluded only because RENURE excludes untreated or spiked manure. ESPP does however support the exemption, from the Nitrates Directive application limits for manure “even in a processed form”, of mineral fertilisers (as defined in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, i.e. < 1% organic carbon) recovered from manure, by derogation or interpretation and not by an amendment of the Nitrates Directive.

Parliamentary question for written answer E-000797/2022, Tom Vandenkendelaere (PPE) “Follow-up question: exception for the use of RENURE because of high prices for chemical fertilisers” HERE and European Commission answer E-000797/2022 given by Mr Sinkevičius (2nd May 2020) HERE.

 

 

EFSA paper on research on food & feed safety and the Circular Economy

Literature search for EFSA study focusses on novel food and feed, but concludes that a review is needed on recycling from sewage, manure and organics to fertilisers. EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) organised a stakeholder consultation in 2021 to input to a two-year study on “Food and Feed Safety Vulnerabilities in Circular Economy”. ESPP commented the need to look at safe nutrient recycling, including secondary materials in fertilisers, growing algae for animal feed or microbial protein on waste streams, chemical recycling of nutrients from wastes to feed or food (see ESPP eNews n°61). EFSA have now published a paper from Harper Adams University, UK, based on a literature search, analysis of EU R&D projects and on the above stakeholder consultation. The first section of the paper (Objective 1) identifies relevant practices in the food and feed production chain. Practices cited include use of organic wastes streams, recycling of animal by-products, crop and crop processing waste, fish and crustacean wastes. The second part (Objective 2) was a literature search, limited to “novel foods and feeds” (27 000 articles identified and computer analysed including 26 primary research studies). The third part of the paper (Objective 3) characterises emerging risks, but this is based only on the information on novel foods and feeds. Lastly the paper recommends that future reviews focus on emerging risks beyond the question of novel foods and feeds, in particular: using municipal sewage, manures (inc. insect frass) as fertilisers, using wastewaters for irrigation and using animal by-products in fertilisers.

“Food and feed safety vulnerabilities in the circular economy”, K. James, A. Millington, N. Randall, EFSA Supporting Publications, vol. 19, issue 3, March 2022 7226E https://doi.org/10.2903/sp.efsa.2022.EN-7226

 

 

Scientists say EU needs a “nutrient directive”

An opinion article in Nature Reviews suggests the need for an integrated nutrient directive to regulate agricultural application of nitrogen and phosphorus, taking into account nutrient balances and regional variations. The authors suggest that this is needed to achieve the Farm-to-Fork target of reducing nutrient losses to the environment by 50% (see SCOPE Newsletter n°139). Current nutrient regulations are considered to be failing: the target ecological status of the Water Framework Directive is widely not being achieved. ESPP notes that Grizzetti (JRC) et al. concluded in 2021 that current EU policies could reduce N losses by -14% and P losses by -20% (ESPP eNews n°55), indeed not near the Farm-to-Fork targets. The authors suggest that current EU directives are failing because they are scattered in different policies, often target only one nutrient, and target environmental levels, not sources. The authors emphasise the need for regional differentiation in measures, depending on local soil, crops, climate, environment, etc. ESPP notes that this is already the case with the Water Framework Directive (under which measures are defined at the water basin level), but that this Directive targets impacts not sources. The authors’ proposal is for a nutrient directive which limits agricultural nitrogen and phosphorus application. It is not clarified how this might interact with the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, in which the European Commission’s proposal to monitor nutrient balances at all farms was rejected by Parliament and Council (FaST tool, ESPP eNews n°31).

“The EU needs a nutrient directive”, M. Wassen et al., Nat Rev Earth Environ 3, 287–288 (2022), DOI.

 

 

Swedish Water calls for ban on all PFAS chemicals

Swedish Water, representing Swedish municipalities, assesses problems of PFAS chemicals, and regulatory and market options, concluding that a group ban on all PFAS chemicals is needed, with only very limited exceptions. The report presents the history of PFAS use and increasing awareness of environmental and health risks, underlining that PFAS are “eternity chemicals”, accumulating in nature and difficult and expensive to decontaminate and eliminate. PFAS clean-up could cost a billion Euros for Nordic countries only. Surveys of retailers and consumers show that the market is already trying to move to PFAS-free products, but that this is difficult as information is often not available for imported products. The federation concludes that a ban on PFAS chemicals is needed, as proposed in 2020 by the European Commission under the Green Deal – EU Chemicals Strategy (ESPP eNews n°49). Swedish Water underlines that this should cover all PFAS chemicals (“group ban”) to avoid false substitution of one PFAS chemical by a similar one, and that exemptions from the ban for “essential uses” (as proposed in the EU Chemicals Strategy) should be “very restrictive”

PFAS Report, Svenskt Vatten (Swedish Water https://www.svensktvatten.se/), rapport R2022-1, April 2022, 58 pages, in Swedish with English summary HERE.

 

 

US 250 M$ funding for “American-made”, innovative fertiliser investments

The US government (USDA) is calling for public comment (until 16th May) on a proposed 250 million US$ funding support programme for US production of innovative, sustainable, independent fertiliser production. The cited aims are to bring production and jobs back to the USA, to offer more choice for American farmers and to increase competition in the fertiliser industry and to ensure more reliable and resilient supply in the context of the war in Europe.

“USDA Announces Plans for $250 Million Investment to Support Innovative American-made Fertilizer to give US Farmers more choices in the Marketplace”, US federal Department of Agriculture, 11th March 2022

“USDA Publishes Requests for Information on Fertilizer, Seed, Retail to Address Growing Competition Concerns in the Agricultural Supply Chain”, 18th March 2022.

 

 

US EPA aims to accelerate actions against eutrophication

58% of US rivers and 45% of lakes have too high phosphorus levels. An EPA ‘Memorandum’ announces partnership action with agriculture, states, tribes and territories and use of the Clean Water Act, including extending TDMLs. Actions indicated including “fulfilling Farming Bill requirements to devote significant resources to water protection”, watershed planning tools, financing Clean Water Act flexible regulatory framework such as technology development, market based approaches, water quality trading. EPA will reinforce numeric nutrient criteria into Water Quality Standards, support innovative permitting for point sources (wastewater treatment works) and use Clean Water Act mechanisms to define TDMLs (Total Daily Maximum Loads) for the 26 000 nutrient-impaired water bodies which today do not have nutrient TDMLs and to ensure implementation of TDMLs where they are defined.

“Accelerating Nutrient Pollution Reductions in the Nation’s Waters”, US EPA ( Environmental Protection Agency), 5th April 2022 and HERE

 

 

Research

 

“Roadmap” for new nutrient sources for Organic Farming

Final report from EU-funded H2020 project RELACS on recycled nutrient products for Organic Farming shows little progress, makes no recommendations for action, proposes further discussion and research.

The report’s lead author is from IFOAM EU (European Organic Farming federation), with editors from IFOAM, FiBL (the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture) and the University of Copenhagen. The report is based on 5 national workshops with Organic farmers and advisors, scientists and national authorities, and a European concluding workshop.

The report underlines the Organic Farming objective of feeding plants through the soil ecosystem. Manures from non-organic farms and rock phosphates are considered the most problematic external plant nutrition inputs to Organic Farming, because of contaminants and consumption of non-renewable resources. The report concludes that the importance of nutrient supply to Organic Farming has been underestimated to date, with risks of soil nutrient depletion and of reduced productivity.

The report proposes to develop the recycling of societal waste streams in order to ensure the nutrient supply of Organic Farming. As a first step, the RELACS project assessed three recycled nutrient materials only: AshDec calcined phosphates from sewage sludge incineration ash, Ostara struvite from municipal wastewater and anaerobic digestate (from biowaste, green waste, food waste – manure is not cited as an input material). The first two of these already benefit from a positive Opinion of the EU scientific committee on Organic Farming (EGTOP, 2/2/2016) and the third is already authorised in the EU Organic Farming Regulation. ESPP regrets that RELACS has not considered the 23 detailed recycled nutrient product fact sheets, produced by companies (coordinated by ESPP) and transmitted in December 2021. However, these led to the constructive “reflections” paper on the acceptability of recycled phosphorus fertilisers in European Organic Agriculture, published by FiBL 29th September 2021 (ESPP eNews n°60), which provides possible criteria for analysing which recycled phosphorus products are likely to be accepted in Organic Farming.

The report concludes from the workshops that the acceptance by Organic Farmers of the three products considered is generally good, also indicates concern about microplastics and organic residues in calcined phosphates. This shows that better information of Organic farmers and stakeholders is needed, in that this is not pertinent for a product is derived from sewage sludge incineration ash.

The report’s proposals are to “update*, agree and adopt an evaluation framework for compatibility of external nutrient inputs with the principles of Organic production”. It is stated that the development of this framework will start by IFOAM launching a Working Group. The report also recommends further research, including long-term trials of recycled nutrients in Organic Farming, fate of contaminants (in particular copper and zinc), nutrient needs for Organic Farming and potential resources. Farm advice on nutrient balances is also recommended.

* The word “update” should be replaced by “develop”, because no such “evaluation framework” exists to date.

ESPP previously wrote to IFOAM EU on 20th April 2022 (HERE) requesting that IFOAM renew action to request inclusion of struvite and calcined phosphates into the EU Organic Farming Regulation (following the joint letter already signed with ESPP 17/6/2020 HERE) and engage consideration of other recycled nutrient products, including certain recovered nitrogen products.

Contentious Inputs in organic farming Systems), Horizon 2020, “Deliverable No 7.5: European roadmap for phasing-in new nutrient sources”, M. Calmels, IFOAM EU et al., 7th April 2022 HERE.

“Reflections on the acceptability of recycled P fertilisers for European organic agriculture”, 29 September 2021, V. Leschenne, B. Speiser, FiBL https://www.betriebsmittelliste.ch/fileadmin/bml-ch/documents/stellungnahmen/Recycled_P_fertilisers_v2_Sept_2021.pdf

 

 

Higher P fertiliser needed to achieve Sustainable Development goals

Modelling suggests that a 22 – 30 % increase in P input is needed (for 16 years, world total) to achieve the SDG 2.3 for smallholder farm productivity, resulting in only 1% increase in P runoff. UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2.3 sets the target to double productivity of smallholder farms as important to achieve SDG2 zero hunger. Based on data from Brazil where soils with high P-fixation are today approaching the point where a “maintenance” fertiliser application becomes possible without crop yield loss, and assuming that yields are not limited by other nutrients or climate, this leads to estimate that 50 kgP/ha/y application over the period 2015 - 2030 would eliminate P limitation of crop yield in five regions where smallholder farms are dominant and where P application is today low: Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, South-East Asia, India, Middle East. P limitation of crop yield is also present in Eastern Europe, Australia and parts of China, South America, New Zealand, but these regions have fewer smallholder farms. Overall, the five assessed regions will require a total (for 16 years) of 74 MtP fertiliser input, that is 39% higher (for these regions) than a baseline scenario, and representing 22 – 30% compared to a global total today of 15 – 21 MtP/y (this number is from the ESPP Factsheet estimate of global P uses, assuming increased P input comes only from mineral fertiliser, and assuming unchanged P fertiliser use in the rest of the world). This increased consumption might not continue beyond 2 or more decades as soil P stores are established in soils and farmers can then move to a maintenance fertilisation strategy.

“Phosphorus for Sustainable Development Goal target of doubling smallholder productivity”, C. Langhans, A. Beusen, J. Mogollón, A Bouwman, Nature Sustainability, col. 5, Jan., 2022, 57-63, DOI.

 

 

Perspectives for sewage nutrient recycling in Austria

Around half of Austria’s sewage sludge currently is valorised in agriculture. Around half this sludge going to agriculture is first composted, with 95% of sewage sludge compost achieving Quality criteria. A significant part of sewage sludge (c. 20%) goes to agricultural land either directly or after dewatering only. In all cases, sludge applied to land is today used subject to heavy metal limits and to nutrient requirements of crops. Austria produces around 240 000 t/y of sewage sludge (dry matter), of which 99% from sewage works > 2 000 p.e. This contains some 6 400 tP/y of phosphorus. Heavy metal levels in Austrian sewage sludge have decreased considerably over recent decades, but questions remain over other contaminants such as microplastics or pharmaceuticals. An Austrian study suggests that microplastics levels may relate principally to the sewer system and to industrial discharges (Sexlinger 2021). National monitoring of pharmaceuticals show very significant reduction in composting, but nonetheless detection of one pharmaceutical (carbamazepine) in soil after sewage sludge compost application. The authors conclude that evidence-based limits for organic contaminants in sewage sludge used in agriculture need to be developed, as well as upstream actions to reduce inputs to sewage. Mono-incineration of sewage sludge with phosphorus recovery can be an important route where contaminants prevent agricultural use.

“Best Available Technology for P-Recycling from Sewage Sludge - An Overview of Sewage Sludge Composting in Austria”, B. Stürmer, M. Waltner, Recycling 2021, 6, 82. DOI. One of the authors is from the Austrian Compost and Biogas Association.

 

 

P-recovery headed to replace nearly half of German mineral P fertiliser use

Study estimates that German sewage P-recycling legislation will lead to recovery of 70 – 77 % of sewage P, that is up to 43 % of mineral P fertiliser consumption. Only 16 % of German sewage sludge was used in agriculture in 2019, around half of the 2010 level, as a result of new fertiliser legislation with tighter N application limits for farmers (implementation of the Nitrates Directive) causing competition with manure, and of new waste legislation, with sewage sludge contaminant limits. The German sewage sludge ordinance (AbfKlärV 2017, detailed in SCOPE Newsletter n°129) will ban agricultural sludge use and require P recovery (if sludge contains > 2%) from all sewage works > 50 000 p.e. by 2032. Based on this legislation and on data on sludge P content and sewage works sizes, with different scenarios, the study concludes that 71 – 80 % of Germany’s sludge will be incinerated (0 – 14% used in agriculture), 70 – 77 % of P in sewage will be recovered (including via use in agriculture), and also 31 – 53 % potassium, 36 – 52 % calcium, 40 – 52 % magnesium but only 0 – 16% nitrogen. For phosphorus, this would represent up to 43 % of German mineral P fertiliser use.

“Future nutrient recovery from sewage sludge regarding three different scenarios - German case study”, T. Sichler et al,, J. Cleaner Production

Vol. 333, 2022, 130130 DOI

 

 

Recycling P from fish processing waste to fish feed

Fish bone meal and dicalcium phosphate (DCP) extracted from fish bones showed to be effective P sources in aquaculture fish feed. Trials were carried out in heated, recirculating aquaculture production of African Catfish (Clarias gariepinus), comparing feeds including P recovered from fish processing wastes to commercial DCP. The recycled P materials were produced from fish heads from a local Monkfish processing company (South Africa). The heads were treated by enzymatic protein hydrolysis, then rinsed, to leave cleaned bones. Fish bone meal was produced by drying @ 50°C then grinding. Recovered DCP was produced by leaching with 1M phosphoric acid then DCP precipitation by adding lime. The trials showed good fish growth with both recovered and commercial P in feed, with no significant differences in fish growth (body weight), feed conversion rate, body condition (mortality, serum parameters, bone mineral composition). The authors conclude that these phosphate materials recovered from fish processing wastes are a viable replacement for commercial dicalcium phosphate in aquaculture feed.

“In‑Vivo Evaluation of the Suitability of By‑Product‑Derived Phosphate Feed Supplements for Use in the Circular Economy, Using Juvenile

African Catfish as Model Species”, J. Swanepoel, N. Goosen, Waste Biomass Valor (2022) DOI.

“Optimization of phosphate recovery from monkfish, Lophius vomerinus, processing by-products and characterization of the

phosphate phases”, J. Swart, A. Bordoloi, N. Goosen, J. Sci. Food Agric., 99: 2743-2756 DOI.

 

Scenarios for future phosphorus demand for batteries

Papers discuss implications for phosphorus demand if Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries (LFP) become predominant in electric vehicles, concluding possible need of 2 MtP/y, that is c. 10% of currently mined phosphate rock. An initial paper by Xu et al. 2020 discussed potential future demand for several critical materials for production of electric vehicle EV batteries worldwide 2020 – 2050 (automotive only). This paper mainly addressed lithium, cobalt, and nickel (copper, graphite and silicon also in annex). A comment paper by Spears et al. 2022 suggested that phosphorus should also be considered, in Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries. In response to this, the original authors published a response 2022, estimating demand for phosphorus. In a scenario with 50% electric global fleet EV penetration by 2050 (“SD scenario”), based on estimated annual electric vehicle sales and battery capacity requirements, and if 60% of the EV battery capacity is Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries (compared to near zero today), then Xu et al. estimate that c. 3 MtP per year of phosphorus will be required by 2050, of which around one third may come from recycling of end-of-life batteries, resulting in an annual net demand of c. 2 MtP/y by 2050. This estimate is based on an assumed 1:1 atomic ratio between phosphorus and lithium in LFP batteries, multiplied by the molecular weight ratio (4.5:1 w/w). The estimate for total lithium used in batteries included the electrolyte and the cathode, whereas the lithium iron phosphorus in LFP batteries concerns the cathode only. On the other hand, use of phosphorus compounds for fire safety in battery electrolytes, membranes or structures/casings is not taken into account. These points are not expected to significantly modify the overall estimate. Also, the estimate covers use in light vehicles only, whereas significant additional demand is possible in batteries for trains and buses, other vehicles, and network energy storage. Xu et al. (2022) indicate (after correction*) that this estimate for P demand for LFP could consume approximately as much phosphorus as is used today in all industrial uses. ESPP estimates that 2 MtP/y (in 2050) would represent around 10% of current mined phosphate rock production (see ESPP Factsheet). Detailed data and calculations are provided in the Supplementary Information available online for each of the three papers.

“Future material demand for automotive lithium-based batteries”, C. Xu et al., Communications Materials 2020:1-99 (Nature), DOI.

“Concerns about global phosphorus demand for lithium-iron-phosphate batteries in the light electric vehicle sector”, B. Spears, W. Brownlie, D. Cordell, L. Hermann, J. Mogollón, Communications Materials 2022:3-14, DOI.
“Reply to: Concerns about global phosphorus demand for lithium-iron-phosphate batteries in the light electric vehicle sector”, C. Xu et al., Communications Materials 2022) 3:15 DOI.
* ESPP has noted (confirmed by the authors) that the dotted line in fig. 1a in Xu et al. 2022 is based on an error in correction of P2O5 to P, so should be 2x higher.

 

Analysing contaminants in wastewater recovered materials

Levels of certain industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals and heavy metals were tested in a range of materials recovered in wastewater treatment plants, such as precipitated phosphates, ion-exchange, hydrolysed sludge, bio-polymers. The recovered materials were generated in the EU Horizon2020 SMART-Plant R&D project. The industrial chemicals analysed were polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons PAH (e.g. naphthalene) and chloralkanes (e.g. chloroparaffins). Levels were  generally orders of magnitude lower in the recovered materials than regulatory limits in fertilisers in any identified country. Heavy metals were also generally orders of magnitude lower than the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation limits, except in one material produced by thermal hydrolysis of sewage sludge from Pyttalia wwtp, Athens. Pesticides were generally not detectable. Of the pharmaceuticals analysed, several antibiotics were found at levels up to 600 ng/g DM in samples of sewage sludge, compost and recovered bio-polymers (PHA, cellulose): ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, clarithromycin. Antibiotics were not detectable or showed an order of magnitude lower concentrations in recovered struvite and in calcium phosphates recovered via ion-exchange.

“Determination of multi-class emerging contaminants in sludge and recovery materials from waste water treatment plants: Development of a modified QuEChERS method coupled to LC–MS/MS”, B. Benedetti et al., Microchemical Journal 155 (2020) 104732, DOI

“Assessment of the significance of heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants in recovered products from water resource recovery facilities”, N. Rey- Martínez et al., Resources, Conservation & Recycling 182 (2022) 106313, DOI.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phosphorus is most widely limiting nutrient on land

Global modelling suggests that 43% of land area is naturally limited by phosphorus, compared to only 18% by nitrogen, with the remainder co-limited by both nutrients or only weakly nutrient limited. Phosphorus is already recognised as the limiting nutrient in nearly all freshwater systems (lakes, rivers, reservoirs), which is why even limited phosphorus losses from land to water can cause eutrophication problems (algal growth). This study confirms the importance of P limitation for terrestrial ecosystems, and so its implications for potential to limit carbon uptake in response to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide. The model is based on eleven predictors, covering local climate, soil and vegetation factors. Results show good correlation to published field data. Nitrogen tends to be more limiting at higher latitudes and altitudes. Phosphorus is limiting in general in tropical, subtropical and temperature deciduous forests, Mediterranean biomes, tropical and temperate grasslands, savannas and shrubland. The authors note that climate warming may favour biological nitrogen fixation, so mitigating nitrogen limitation and increasing areas concerned by phosphorus limitation.

“Global patterns of terrestrial nitrogen and phosphorus limitation”, E. Du et al., Nat. Geosci. 13, 221–226 (2020) DOI.

 

 

 

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Register now for ESPC4 and PERM 20-22 June 2022

 

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https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

ESPP is looking for research students to carry out, in coming 3-6 months, paid, one-off literature search – analysis tasks on nitrogen recovery and on safety of animal by-product ashes. Offers are welcome for these two separate tasks, with CV, from research students or institutes. Offers are requested by 31st May 2022. Full details of tasks are on the ESPP website here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A group of companies and stakeholders will prepare a dossier specifying processing conditions to request an EFSA Opinion on safety of biochars from manures, and launch data collection on contaminants on biochars from sewage. At the webinar of biochar, pyrolysis and gasification, organised by ESPP 15th march 2022, with participant of EFSA (European Food Safety Agency), it was decided to constitute a group of companies and stakeholders who will work together to define process conditions and other specifications, then prepare and submit to EFSA a dossier on safety of such materials produced from manures or other animal by-products. This will be supported by EBI (European Biochar Industry Consortium). Data collection will also be engaged on elimination of organic contaminants (pharmaceuticals, PFAS, industrial and consumer chemicals) in different biochar process conditions.

Summary of webinar and action points are available on request from ESPP 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open to 17 May 2022. General public and specialist questionnaire invites opinions on the risks from microplastics, possible regulatory action, willingness to pay more for products with lower microplastics release. Specialist section addresses pellets, tyres, textiles, detergent capsules. Amongst possible actions suggested are “Specific waste water treatments in urban waste water treatment plants” but it is not explained what such treatments might be.

EU public consultation, open to 17 May 2022 “Microplastics pollution – measures to reduce its impact on the environment” HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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ESPC4 and PERM
European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4)
20-22 June 2022, Vienna, Austria - and hybrid

EU consultations
EU consultation on nutrient management
EU public consultation: microplastics
EU public consultation: mercury

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR)
Status of Fertilising Products Regulation amendments
Post-processing of digestates and of other fertilising products
FPR consultation on new CMCs and biostimulants microorganisms planned
No real progress (again) on Animal By-Products (ABPs)
Proposed EU Standards for analysis methods for STRUBIAS materials

Policy
SYSTEMIC policy recommendations
Commission moves on EU End-of-Waste (EoW) for plastics & textiles - only
Pyrolysis & gasification materials: industry to propose EU dossiers for safe biochars

Research
Regeneration of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery electrodes
Algae grown in digestate as animal feed – pathogen safety & regulatory questions
Long-term land use of sewage biosolids and antimicrobial resistance
Review: climate change – eutrophication feedback
Chronic drought reduces soil P storage
Phosphorus and health
High phosphorus diet does not show glucose impairment in mouse trial
Identifying key flows for P-stewardship action in Germany
Enzyme pre-conditioning of pig and poultry feed
Anaerobic digestion and pharmaceuticals in manures

Stay informed

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ESPC4 and PERM


European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4)

20-22 June 2022, Vienna, Austria - and hybrid

espc4 enews 58 2

Full programmes and speakers are now online for both ESPC4 (4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference) and PERM (Phosphorus Research in Europe Meeting), plus site visit and young researchers networking event. A few places are still available for “new” presentations – email us urgently. Over 130 participants are already registered.

Make sure YOU don’t miss the first major international meeting on sustainable nutrients since the start of Covid, with the European Commission and international organisations, leading companies, scientists and stakeholders. Networking tools will ensure information sharing both onsite in Vienna and between physical participants and online participants. Register now. Capacity in Vienna is limited to 300.

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

 

EU consultations

 

EU consultation on nutrient management

Open to 26th April 2022. Public consultation on INMAP, the new EU Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan. ESPP regrets that the proposal largely ignores diet, nutrient recycling, food security and agricultural policy (CAP). The new Plan aims to achieve the objective fixed by the Green Deal to reduce nutrient losses by 50% without deteriorating soil fertility. The European Commission document underlines that nitrogen and phosphorus exceed ‘Planetary Boundaries’ by 3.3x and 2x and that the latest Nitrates Directive implementation report shows that over 30% of both rivers and lakes and over 80% of marine waters are eutrophic. It is underlined that phosphorus (under the term “Phosphate Rock”) is on the EU Critical Raw Materials list and that the environmental costs of nitrogen pollution are 70 – 320 billion €/year (from Sutton et al. 2011 - the costs of phosphorus losses are not estimated). The European Commission’s proposed outline for INMAP centres on reducing nutrient losses, to both water and air (for N), including monitoring losses and targeting “nutrient pollution hotspots”.

Despite referring to the Circular Economy Action Plan in the introduction, nutrient use efficiency and nutrient recycling are not emphasised and diet is not cited in the proposed INMAP outline. Food security is identified as a challenge in the consultation summary webpage, but is absent from the proposed INMAP outline. ESPP input will suggest that dietary change is the key driver of fertiliser use, of livestock production and of nutrient pollution, as well as of food security, and that developing nutrient recovery and recycling is central to both reducing nutrient losses (N and P losses to water, ammonia air pollution and nitrogen oxides climate emissions) and to reducing dependency on imported phosphate rock and phosphate fertilisers and imported natural gas (for nitrogen fertiliser production). The proposed INMAP outline suggests that Member States should focus on synergies between nutrient pollution reduction and CAP (common agricultural policy) but seems to imply that no modification of CAP is required to improve nutrient management. The outline indicates that INMAP initiatives may include revising legislation if necessary, but does not make proposals to enable funding of nutrient recycling and improved nutrient management, such as confirmation of the inclusion of phosphorus recycling in the EU Taxonomy for green investment funding (see ESPP eNews n°58 and n°59) or extension of carbon credits to saving nitrogen greenhouse gases.

EU public consultation, open to individuals, companies, stakeholder organisations, to 26th April 2022 (4000 character free text input, plus possibility to upload a position paper or document). “Nutrients – action plan for better management” (Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan, INMAP) here     ESPP’s initial input to the INMAP preparation process, 27_3_2021 is here http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

EU public consultation: microplastics

Open to 17 May 2022. General public and specialist questionnaire invites opinions on the risks from microplastics, possible regulatory action, willingness to pay more for products with lower microplastics release. Specialist section addresses pellets, tyres, textiles, detergent capsules. Amongst possible actions suggested are “Specific waste water treatments in urban waste water treatment plants” but it is not explained what such treatments might be.

EU public consultation, open to 17 May 2022 “Microplastics pollution – measures to reduce its impact on the environment” HERE.

 

 

EU public consultation: mercury

Open to 3 May 2022. Consultation questions whether mercury should be banned in dental fillings and emissions from crematoria limited. Both actions would significantly reduce mercury levels in sewage and biosolids. Further details in ESPP eNews n°64.

EU public consultation, open to 3 May 2022 “Mercury – review of EU law” HERE.

 

 

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR)

 

Status of Fertilising Products Regulation amendments

To date, a “consolidated” version of the Fertilising Products Regulation including amendments is not yet available.

Initial Fertilising Products Regulation (Regulation 2019/1009)

Published Official Journal 25/6/2019

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32019R1009

STRUBIAS (struvite, biochars and ashes):

CMC12 “Precipitated phosphate salts & derivates”

CMC13 “Thermal oxidation materials and derivates”

CMC14 “Pyrolysis and gasification materials”

Published Official Journal 30/11/2021

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2019/1009

Technical amendments

Published Official Journal 8/10/2021

Corrigendum

Published Official Journal 10/3/2022

CMC11 By-Products

Finalised text adopted by European Commission, March 2022. Now in mandatory 3-month Council – Parliament “objection” period. Publication in Official Journal expected July 2022.

See under “Commission adoption”:

Here    and

Here

CMC15
“Recovered high purity materials”

(includes nitrogen recovery from off-gases)

Technical amendments, including post-processing of digestates

Text finalised, now pending formal European Commission adoption, then translation, “objection” period. Publication in Official Journal expected late Summer 2022.

Temporary link on CIRCAB here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Non-regulatory Commission ‘guidance’ document.

Regularly updated here.

 

 

 

Post-processing of digestates and of other fertilising products

Input is needed on the list of examples of processes applied to digestates, before use as fertilising products: send to ESPP before 27th April. The amendment, requested by ESPP and EBA, to clarify that “post-processing” of digestates is allowed under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation has been finalised, and authorises the following: solid-liquid separation, ammonium and/or phosphate removal (for recovery), removal of water, additives necessary for these processes. Currently, the European Commission is preparing a list of examples of such processes to include in a future update of the FPR FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions guidance document). Based on the draft proposed text from the European Commission, ESPP proposes the following list of examples – to which your comments are welcome to ESPP before 27th April:

- mechanical separation of the solid/liquid fraction: filtration, ultra-, nano- or other-membrane filtration, including under pressure or vacuum; gravitational separation, such as settling or flotation (including air bubble flotation, centrifuge).

- recovery of nitrogen or phosphorus: ammonia stripping (e.g. by increasing pH by adding e.g. caustic soda, bubbling air through the digestate, increasing the temperature, decreasing the pressure (vacuum), gas membrane separation …) followed by nitrogen recovery; adsorption / ion-exchange; precipitation.

- dewatering: drying by standing, atmospheric drying, using air or hot air, or by using solar radiation, belt dryers, push-turn, fluid bed, and drum dryers,  …. ; freeze drying; concentration of the liquid fraction; reverse osmosis and membrane concentration; vacuum evaporation.

All such processes are allowed provided that they lead only to the changes inherent to mechanical separation, nutrient recovery or dewatering, without the intention to otherwise chemically modify the digestate or the fraction.

Such post-processing is NOT authorised for composts, biochars, food industry by-products or other CMCs under the Regulation (except in specific cases: CMC1 de facto, CMC2 limited list of processes, CMC7 drying & freeze drying only, CMC12 and CMC13 chemical derivates). In particular, drying / concentration, solid-liquid separation, filtration, nano- or membrane-filtration and reverse osmosis, granulation, compacting, sieving, grinding or pasteurisation would appear to be not possible for most CMCs. Dilution with water would seem to be possible, in that the water is simply a separate CMC (CMC1). An ESPP suggestion to resolve this by amending Annex II to authorise post-processing (without the intention to chemically modify) for all CMCs was taken up by the European Commission and discussed at the EU Fertilisers Experts Group but not finalised, due to requests from Member States and stakeholders for more time to examine the text in detail.

 

FPR consultation on new CMCs and biostimulants microorganisms planned

At the EU Fertilisers Expert Group 4-5 April 2022 (ESPP is a Member), the European Commission confirmed that a public consultation is planned on secondary materials which are excluded from current CMCs, in order to identify possible future amendments of existing CMCs or materials for which a study of market potential, agronomic value and safety could be appropriate, and to collect relevant data. It is proposed that this consultation will also cover proposed additions to the list of microorganisms eligible for use as biostimulants (CMC7), that is microorganisms which stimulate plant nutrition processes, so improving fertiliser use efficiency. This list currently only includes Azotobacter, Mycrorrhizal fungi, Rhizobium and Azospirillum.

EBIC (European Biostimulants Industry Council) published a detailed position paper (31st March 2022) expressing concern that CMC7 only allows four genera of biostimulants microorganism, thus blocking both access to the market of microorganism biostimulants which have already proven their potential, and preventing future innovation to improve fertiliser use efficiency. The EBIC position paper presents sixty microorganisms shown to have plant stimulant effects.

Input is welcome to ESPP on proposed new CMCs or recycled nutrient materials which are excluded from current Fertilising Products Regulation CMCs. ESPP maintains a working list of such materials, with summary details, here: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

EBIC position paper and proposals on microbial biostimulants for CMC7 “The Fertilising Products Regulation should allow microbial plant biostimulants to access the EU market in a way that fosters innovation” (12 pages), 31st March 2022 here

 

No real progress (again) on Animal By-Products (ABPs)

The EU Fertilisers Expert Group 4-5 April 2022 yet again came up against no real progress from DG SANTE on integrating animal by products into the EU Fertilising Products Regulation. Compost and digestate, biochar or ash from manure or other animal by-products, as well as identified animal by-products which are today widely used and recognised as safe in Member States, will thus be excluded from CE-mark fertilisers when the Fertilising Products Regulation enters into force in July this year (e.g. bone meal, feather meal, discarded animal feed or petfood materials …). Questions from Member States and stakeholders were met with effectively no answer from DG SANTE. ESPP criticised DG SANTE’s slow proceedings, reminding that the regulatory proposal for the Fertilising Products Regulation, in March 2016, included full detail for all CMCs, and further CMCs have already been finalised by DG GROW and added since then (three STRUBIAS materials, by-products CMC11, recovered ammonia from off-gas and other recovered minerals CMC15), whereas in 2016, for animal by-products, DG SANTE had prepared an empty box (literally) for CMC10. The European Parliament and Council therefore wrote into the Regulation art. 46 that the Commission must initiate assessment of ABPs for inclusion into the Regulation by latest 15th January 2020. DG SANTE’s mandate to EFSA for an Opinion was not issued until 30th April 2020. To the 4-5 April 2022 meeting, DG SANTE indicated that two meetings are now planned in late April and May, then public consultation, then adoption into the Fertilising Products Regulation “before the end of 2022” and that work is underway to include into the Regulation three types of animal by-product (and derived product): composts and digestates (of ABPs, such as manure), protein materials, and the list of materials assessed by EFSA (see detailed summary of EFSA Opinion of 30/10/2021 in ESPP eNews n°61). No information was provided on what is on the agenda of these two meetings and has not presented any proposes for criteria, nor for selection of materials, nor for regulatory mechanism ….

 

EBIC, ESPP and a total of 11 organisations published an open letter on 27th March 2022, to DG SANTE, underlining that manure is a major input material for anaerobic digestion and represents the largest potential for increasing the circular use of nutrients, but will be completely excluded from CE-mark fertilisers in July 2022 (including, manure composts and manure digestates are excluded). The letter notes that animal by-products are already used as fertilisers in Member States under national fertiliser regulations, conform to the Animal By-Product Regulation 1069/2009, with a long history of safe use. For example, in 2018 (the latest official data available), 62,468 controls were conducted in Italy, with only nine cases requiring further investigation for pathogens, and all nine cases were finally determined to be negative for contamination.

Summary of EFSA Opinion of 30/10/2021 in ESPP eNews n°61

EBIC – ESPP – AFAIA – Federchimica Assofertilizzanti, EBA, ECB, ECOFI, Eurofema, Growing Media Europe, Agrar, Unifa joint letter 27th March 2022 www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

Proposed EU Standards for analysis methods for STRUBIAS materials

Comments are invited to 30th April on a draft list of new EU Standards for testing and analysis of precipitated phosphates & struvite, ash-derived fertilisers, biochars- pyrolysis & gasification materials (STRUBIAS CMCs 12-13-14). The European Commission’s draft mandate to CEN for Harmonised Standards development for STRUBIAS is open for comment and proposals, concerning the proposed list of Standards to be developed, existing Standards which can be taken as basis (EU, ISO, national, other) and short description of the parameters concerned. Please send any input to ESPP (ESPP is a member of the EU Fertilisers Expert Group and can forward to the European Commission).

Draft Standards Mandate to CEN for the Fertilising Products Regulation STRUBIAS annexes (CMCs 12, 13 and 14), v 28/3/2021, for comments by 30th April 2022 available here: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

Policy

 

 

SYSTEMIC policy recommendations

The EU-funded Horizon 2020 project SYSTEMIC, addressing nutrient recycling from digestates, project outcome documents include a 6-page policy briefing and material fact sheets for recycled nutrients (recovered ammonium sulphate, mineral concentrate).

SYSTEMIC’s policy recommendations underline the need for incentives to stimulate the market for recovered nutrients, for example through inclusion of carbon savings from nitrogen recycling and bio-based fertilisers in greenhouse policies such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and in the Renewable Energy Directive. In particular, ammonia salts recovered from the digestate have low greenhouse gas emissions during production and application and could partially replace N-fertilisers produced by Haber-Bosch. The saved carbon emissions could be credited to the biogas plant operator, or the carbon emissions from Haber Bosch should be compensated by fertiliser producers and importers by the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).

SYSTEMIC underlines the need to progress on inclusion of products derived from animal by-products (in particular from manure) in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation = FPR (see discussion of EFSA Opinion of 30/10/2021 in ESPP eNews n°61).) and requests the admission into the FPR of recovered ammonia salts from stripping (this is now finalised with CMC15) and of nano-filtration materials. The latter are covered by the fact sheet on “Mineral concentrate” which are defined as produced by reverse osmosis. ESPP notes that there is at present no proposal to include “Mineral concentrates” or nano-filtrates in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, and to do so would presumably require defining an Animal By-Products End-Point and so a dossier on process parameters and sanitary safety for EFSA.

SYSTEMIC supports the proposed RENURE criteria, which would, if adopted, allow application above Nitrates Directive nitrogen limits of certain forms of processed manure. SYSTEMIC suggests that this would allow these materials to compete with synthetic mineral fertilisers as a nitrogen source in livestock producing regions where manure is abundantly available. SYSTEMIC asks for “harmonised implementation” for all Member States, whereas the RENURE report specifies that, to ensure environmental protection, any Nitrates Directive derogation would be subject to specific regional criteria and constraints under each Nitrates Vulnerable Zone Action Plan.

ESPP has expressed concerns about the agronomic criteria for nitrogen forms in the proposed RENURE criteria which, as published, could be passed by certain untreated manures, most liquid fractions of manure, or by raw manure spiked with 10% urea (see ESPP eNews n°47). Such materials can achieve the proposed RENURE (inorganic N/total N) and (organic carbon/total N) criteria, and would be excluded only because RENURE excludes untreated or spiked manure . ESPP does however support the exemption, from the Nitrates Directive application limits for manure “even in a processed form”, of mineral fertilisers (as defined in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, i.e. < 1% organic carbon) recovered from manure.

ESPP letter to European Commission requesting action on mineral fertilisers recovered from manure, 10th March 2020 and reminder 27th December 2021 http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

SYSTEMIC project documents https://systemicproject.eu/downloads/

SYSTEMIC project website : https://systemicproject.eu

SYSTEMIC policy note for decision makers: https://systemicproject.eu/systemic-releases-final-policy-note/

 

 

Commission moves on EU End-of-Waste (EoW) for plastics & textiles - only

The European Commission has announced that EU EoW criteria will be developed only for plastics and textiles. In the JRC preparatory study, no bio-waste sourced materials were shortlisted. Despite input from ESPP and others. The absence of EU EoW criteria is an obstacle to recycling of nutrients and other materials from wastewater (see Eureau – ESPP – various stakeholder Fact Sheets on algae, fibres and polymer and mineral products recovered from wastewaters, 1st December 2021 here). Certain materials proposed by ESPP, Eureau (the European water industry federation) and other stakeholders were not considered (algae grown using waste inputs) or not addressed as suggested (minerals recovered from ashes became two categories “phosphorus” and “potassium chloride”). Critical Raw Materials were apparently not considered an important criteria (weight = 1/3, and maximum score limited to 2/3 whereas all other criteria had possible scores of 3/3). The “top 5” shortlisted waste streams identified by JRC are: plastics, textiles, rubber from tyres, construction waste (aggregates and mineral wool) and paper & cardboard. The JRC report concludes by proposing to prioritise plastics for development of EU End-of-Waste criteria, with five plastics streams: PET, polyethylene, polystyrene, polypropylene, mixed plastics. The European Commission has then announced that EoW criteria will be developed for plastics and textiles (5th April 2022).

The EU End-of-Waste status for recovered nutrients used in fertilisers is ensured by the EU Fertilising Products Regulation. ESPP however considers that End-of-Waste (EoW) status can nonetheless be a significant obstacle to nutrient recycling, in particular for inorganic phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium chemicals recovered from waste streams (e.g. phosphoric acid, ammonia salts) where the absence of EU EoW status can be an obstacle to placing these on the commodity chemicals market, including as ‘intermediates’ for fertiliser production. ESPP considers that pathogen safety is ensured for nutrient chemicals recovered from ashes, but would need demonstrating for nutrient chemicals recovered from offgas cleaning or other routes. The regulatory status of algae and aquatic plants grown using wastewaters as growing media or waste nutrients or waste CO2 inputs remains to be clarified. ESPP will continue to pursue these questions with the European Commission.

ESPP input to the EU JRC consultation on selecting priority materials for definition of EU End-of-Waste Criteria, 10_10_2021 http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

Eureau - ESPP and other stakeholders Fact Sheets on secondary products from waste waters (algae, fibres and polymers, minerals), 1st December 2021.

European Commission JRC study “Scoping possible further EU-wide end-of-waste and by-product criteria”, March 2022 http://dx.doi.org/10.2760/067213

European Commission announcement, 5th April 2022 “The Commission starts to develop end-of-waste criteria for plastic waste” here.

 

 

Pyrolysis & gasification materials: industry to propose EU dossiers for safe biochars

A group of companies and stakeholders will prepare a dossier specifying processing conditions to request an EFSA Opinion on safety of biochars from manures, and launch data collection on contaminants on biochars from sewage. At the webinar of biochar, pyrolysis and gasification, organised by ESPP 15th march 2022, with participant of EFSA (European Food Safety Agency), it was decided to constitute a group of companies and stakeholders who will work together to define process conditions and other specifications, then prepare and submit to EFSA a dossier on safety of such materials produced from manures or other animal by-products. This will be supported by EBI (European Biochar Industry Consortium). Data collection will also be engaged on elimination of organic contaminants (pharmaceuticals, PFAS, industrial and consumer chemicals) in different biochar process conditions.

Summary of webinar and action points are available on request from ESPP

Research

Regeneration of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery electrodes

In Zhang 2022, calcining with sucrose enabled recycling of LiFePO4 back into battery cathode material. End-of-life batteries were disassembled and the LFP cathode plates separated. These were calcined at 300°C (1 hour), then aluminium foil material was removed, then again calcined at 600°C (20 minutes). The material was then well mixed with sucrose (9 -12%), PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride) and NMP (N-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone) and calcined again at 500 – 750°C, then finally dried onto aluminium foil to produce cathodes. The sucrose calcination coated carbon onto the LFP particles and reduced LiFe(PO4)3 to LiFePO4. The resulting LFP/C showed good performance as a battery cathode material (lithium transport, charge retention after 200 charging cycles).

In Fan 2022, extraction with sodium hydroxide recovered iron hydroxide and lithium phosphate. End-of-Life Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries were charged then disassembled under inert gas. The shell, cathode, anode and separator were separated. The anode was leached with water, recovering LiOH solution, graphite and copper foil. The cathode was immersed in NMP solvent (N-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone) to dissolve PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride)and so enable separation of aluminium foil. The remaining cathode material was leached with sodium hydroxide (1 mol/l, NaOH:Fe ratio 4.5), so generating a sodium phosphate solution and precipitate of iron hydroxide. The sodium phosphate solution was reacted with the lithium hydroxide solution (from the anode leaching), resulting in lithium phosphate (LiPO4) precipitate and regenerated sodium hydroxide which can be reused in the process. The authors suggest that this room-temperature recycling process could be significantly cheaper than current pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy processes.

“Regenerated LiFePO4/C for scrapped lithium iron phosphate powder batteries by pre‑oxidation and reduction method”; H. Zhang et al., Ionics (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11581-022-04458-x

“Room-temperature extraction of individual elements from charged spent LiFePO4 batteries”, M-C. Fan et al, Rare Met. (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12598-021-01919-6

Algae grown in digestate as animal feed – pathogen safety & regulatory questions

The EU funded ALG-AD (Interreg) project tested microalgae grown in filtered digestate from food waste and/or manure, and found no significant pathogen risk. Questions are raised concerning the Animal By-Product Regulation and other regulatory constraints.

The project studied microalgae cultivated in liquid digestates (after centrifuge solid-liquid separation) as follows:

Origin of digestate
(input materials):

Digestate output :

Digester conditions
and digestate processing:

Capacity of algae system:

Algae system ran for:

Cooperl, Brittany, France

Pig manure and slaughterhouse wastes
(Cat. 2 and 3 Animal By-Products)

400 000 t/y (wet weight)

Mesophilic digester conditions (38°C).

Salt is added to the digestate salt at 15g/l (because the algae cultivated in this case is a saltwater species).

Digestate is filtered by membrane < 0.2 µm upstream of algae cultivation (this effectively ensures sanitisation)

Volume:
2.5 m3.

Input:
46 l/day.

13 months

Langage AD, Devon, UK

Food waste

20 000 t/y
(wet weight)

Mesophilic digester conditions (38°C).

Digestate is filtered by membrane of 0.1 µm pore upstream of algae cultivation (this effectively ensures sanitisation)

Volume:
7 m3

Input:
2.4 l/day.

30 months

Innolab, Oostkamp, Belgium

Food waste and biomass

160 000 t/y (wet weight)

Thermophilic digester conditions (50 °C).

Digestate sanitised at 70°C for 1 hour and filtered through paper (pore 10 µm) upstream of algae cultivation.

Volume:
0.75 m3.

Input:
1.2 l/day.

24 months

Pathogen analysis was carried out in the digestate liquid fraction (“DAF” in the report, after filtration) and in the algae, by pathogen growth tests and by metagenomic DNA analysis, for Clostridium botulinum, Clostridiodes, Mycobacterium, Campylobacter, Listeria, Yersinia and Salmonella.

Results show no detected pathogens in the filtered liquid fraction of digestate from Cooperl or from Langage, nor in the harvested algae grown in these filtered digestates (except in one case, pathogens in algae cultivated in Langage digestate, but not detected in the filtered digestate), but positive results were detected for certain pathogens in both filtered digestate and cultivated algae in the Innolab digestate liquid fraction. The presence of pathogens in the Innolab digestate is surprising in that it is pasteurised post-digester before use for algae cultivation (1 hour @ 70°C). The absence of pathogens in the Cooperl and Langage digestate liquid fractions may be related to the digester operating conditions (temperature – time profile), to addition of salt to the Cooperl digestate or to membrane filtration of the digestate liquid fraction (upstream of the algae cultivation). Metagenomics (DNA) analysis shows negative or weakly positive results for the cultivated algae: pathogen DNA present but pathogens not alive. Overall, pathogens in the cultivated algae do not seem to be significantly different or lower than in the digestate used as substrate.

Even though only Cooperl was taking ABP inputs (manure), it would have been useful to know whether or not the anaerobic digestors were operated to EU Animal By-Product (ABP) Regulation End-Point sanitisation requirements (standard transformation parameters for biogas transformation residues as specified in Section 1 of Chapter III of Annex V to Regulation (EU) No 142/2011), in that digestate from digesters operated to such requirements should have safe levels of pathogens. This information was not available. Nevertheless, all three anaerobic digester plants confirmed compliance with national legislation for use of their digestate  as fertiliser

The project concludes that pathogen levels are generally safe in algae cultivated in filtered digestate from AD plants taking manure or food waste as inputs.

The ALG-AD project considered the regulatory status of digestate-grown algae, concluding that:

  • Use in animal feed of algae grown using manure (Cat. 2 ABP) digestate as substrate, is prohibited by the Animal By-Products Regulation 1069/2009 art. 31 and by the Animal Feed Regulation 767/2009, which prohibits the use of manure “irrespective of any form of treatment”.
  • Algae species to be used as feed material must be notified if not listed in the “Catalogue of Feed Materials” (Regulation 2017/1017 updating 68/2013) or the “Feed Materials Register”. The species utilised in ALG-AD are included in these lists, so can be used, subject to appropriate safety measures.
  • Different regulations are potentially applicable to the use of algae and algae extracts in animal feed, for different categories of animals (farmed, pets, zoo, fur animals), for feed additives, for compound feed or medicated feed. This makes any use of digestate-grown algae very complex.
  • Algae can be labelled as “Organic”, but the Regulation listing authorised inputs in Organic Farming 2021/1165 specifies that only certain “fertilisers … and nutrients” may be used for algae cultivation. This Regulation authorises the use of “Biogas digestate containing animal by-products co-digested with material of plant or animal origin …” with “Factory farming origin forbidden”

ALG-AD (Interreg) project website.and “Safety Analysis” report https://www.researchgate.net/project/ALG-AD-3

 

Long-term land use of sewage biosolids and antimicrobial resistance

Four decades of sewage sludge application to cropland near Malmö, Sweden, shows not to modify soil antibiotic resistance bacteria or gene levels, and does not result in levels of concern of copper or zinc. Soil was tested in a field trial plot where sewage biosolids have been applied every four years 1981 – 2017 (up to 12 t/ha dry weight per application) and a range of crops grown, before and two weeks after the 2017 biosolids application, also with comparison to application of nitrogen fertiliser. Raw, digested and stored sludge were also analysed. Analyses covered bioavailable copper and zinc (which are known to cause selection for antibiotic resistance, see Song 2017 in ESPP eNews n°54), 16 antibiotic molecules compounds metagenomics (DNA indicative of MRG and BRG = metal and biocide resistance genes), ampicillin-, tetracycline- and -resistance E. coli (bacterial colony cultivation). None of the tested antibiotics were found in soil prior to the 2017 biosolids amendment, showing that these pharmaceuticals were not persistent in soil. The antibiotics were found in some samples 15 days after biosolids application (and in no samples which had not received biosolids) however no significant changes in ARG -antibiotic resistance genes) were found in soils having received biosolids, neither before nor after the 2017 biosolids application. Also, bacterial cultivation also revealed no sign of antibiotic resistance related to biosolids application. Bioavailable copper and zinc levels found in biosolids amended soils were considered too low to exert antibiotic resistance selection pressure. The authors conclude that, under the conditions tested, there is no indication of risks of antibiotic resistance development in soils due to sewage biosolids application.

“Long-term application of Swedish sewage sludge on farmland does not cause clear changes in the soil bacterial resistome”, C. Rutgersson et al., Environment International 137 (2020) 105339 DOI.

Review: climate change – eutrophication feedback

Review of nearly 200 scientific publications summarises how climate change enhances eutrophication and how eutrophied aquatic systems contribute to greenhouse emissions. See also SCOPE Newsletter n°137 on climate change and eutrophication. Climate change can both increase nutrient inputs to surface waters and weaken resilience to eutrophication:

  • Droughts and increased temperature (which accelerates evaporation) reduce river flow and dilution, and so make water bodies more susceptible to eutrophication, especially in subtropical and Mediterranean regions.
  • Increased precipitation leads to increased phosphorus loads to surface waters, e.g. +30% higher P losses to water by 2050 in temperate watersheds.
  • Ash loads to water bodies, following wildfires, accentuate eutrophication problems.
  • Warming can accelerate internal nutrient release in lakes, with increased decomposition of organic matter and stratification.
  • Warming can decrease resilience of water bodies to eutrophication by damaging riparian vegetation and by modifying fish, invertebrate (algae grazers) and plant communities.

Eutrophication feeds back to climate change, because it leads to water browning or anoxia, causing release of carbon dioxide and methane (see SCOPE Newsletter n°135).

A number of studies are cited which show that climate warming increases cyanobacteria (blue green algae), including experimental warming trials, sediment analysis and modelling. Also, warming and eutrophication together can increase release of toxins by cyanobacteria.

The authors conclude by underlining the importance of reducing nutrient losses to surface waters, and of developing ecosystem reliance mechanisms, such as buffer vegetation and landscape connectivity with water bodies, and of maintaining and restoring biodiversity.

“Feedbacks between climate change and eutrophication: revisiting the allied attack concept and how to strike back”, M. Meerhoff et al., Inland Waters, 2022, DOI.

 

 

Chronic drought reduces soil P storage

16 year field trial in natural Mediterranean forest shows that 30% reduction of rainfall resulted in significant reductions of soil microbe biomass C and N, and even greater and more chronic (less seasonal) reduction in biomass P. Previous work shows that drought – flooding alternations cause reduced P storage and increased P losses from soils (Khan in ESPP eNews n°62 and Bi in eNews n°63). This study used eight 10x15m plots in Mediterranean natural holm oak forest in Catalonia, Spain. For 16 years, half the plots received natural rainfall, the remained -30% rainfall. This reduced soil moisture by mean -15%. After 16 years, soil microbial biomass was sampled four times over the year, showing considerable reductions in microbial carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in all four seasons, with carbon particularly reduced in summer, nitrogen particularly reduced in winter and phosphorus very considerably reduced (more than 4x reduction in winter, more than 2x reduction in summer). Microbial biomass P was sensitive to the long-term drought conditions, whereas C and N were more related to seasonal changes in water availability. The drought conditions resulted in N tending to be present in carbon-rich organic compounds, not mineralised, so less plant available, during the growing season, meaning potentially higher risks of nitrogen losses from soil.

“Seasonal drought in Mediterranean soils mainly changes microbial C and N contents whereas chronic drought mainly impairs the capacity of microbes to retain P”, S. Mara˜n´on-Jim´enez et al., Soil Biology and Biochemistry 165 (2022) 108515, DOI.

 

 

Phosphorus and health

Phosphorus is essential for human health but studies continue to show that high levels of blood P are linked to heart disease, but without evidence that high food P intake is the cause, rather than body metabolism factors. Xia et al. 2022 analysis of UK data on 296 415 participants, free of prior heart disease, showed that higher levels of initial serum P (measured one time) were associated with increased risk of diagnosed aortic stenosis (narrowing of heart valve), within an average 8 year follow-up and after adjustment for cofounders, irrespective of kidney function. No association was found for serum calcium or vitamin D. The authors note that the results of this very large cohort study are coherent withy previous studies* showing a statistical link between blood phosphorus levels and risk of CVD (cardio vascular disease) and that the mechanism may be precipitation of calcium phosphate in arteries and valves.

The human body needs around 0.7gP/person/day to stay healthy US Recommended Daily Allowance). The European Food Safety Agency estimates average EU P intake in diet at c. 1.6 gP/person/day (see ESPPeNews n°34) and has fixed an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of c. 2.8 gP/day.

To ESPP’s understanding, there is no clear evidence today that increased P in diet leads to increased baseline blood phosphorus (fasting serum P = before breakfast in the morning). Phosphorus ingested in meals will increase serum P for up to 6 hours after the meal (e.g. Hazim 2014 and Anderson 2013 review).

* recently e.g. Lv 2021, Poudel 2020, and Cozzolino 2019 review

“Association of serum levels of calcium phosphate and vitamin D with risk of developing aortic stenosis: the UK Biobank cohort”, C. Xia et al., European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, zwac016, 2022 DOI.

 

 

High phosphorus diet does not show glucose impairment in mouse trial

A fourteen-week trial with mice showed impaired glucose tolerance and increased body fat with a high-fat diet but no such negative impacts with a high-phosphorus diet. The impacts of the high-fat diet were mitigated by exercise. The high-P diet had twice the normal diet P level, the high fat diet had five times the normal diet fat calory level. The high-fat diet mice showed significantly increased body fat and impaired glucose and insulin tolerance, whereas the high-P diet had no effect on these parameters. The high-P diet mice showed increased RER (respiratory exchange ratio = CO2 out / O2 in), indicative of consuming more carbohydrate than fat, after feeding, but not after fasting. Overall, the authors conclude that in this study high-P diet did not negatively impact glucose metabolism in sedentary or exercise conditions.

“Distinct Effects of High-Fat and High-Phosphate Diet on Glucose Metabolism and the Response to Voluntary Exercise in Male Mice”, P. Vidal et al., Nutrients 2022, 14, 1201. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14061201

 

 

Identifying key flows for P-stewardship action in Germany

A study of phosphorus flows in Germany identifies key points for improving the P cycle as reducing farm run-off, manure processing, phytate enzyme use in animal feed and P-recovery from slaughterhouse wastes. Such savings could on paper approximately replace all import of phosphorus into Germany which is around 300 ktP/y (around 120 ktP/y as mineral P in fertilisers or other products, around 180 ktP/y in imported food or in animal feed materials). Around 180 ktP/y is estimated to be lost annually in Germany in run-off to surface waters, mainly from agriculture and for a small amount from sewage works. The authors estimated that around 49 ktP/y can potentially be recovered and recycled from sewage sludge and 70 – 80 ktP/y from slaughterhouse wastes (animal by-products, in particular meat and bone meal ash). The authors suggest that current P losses from agriculture (180 ktP/y) could be reduced to 65 ktP/y by improved soil management, slow-release fertilisers and targeted fertiliser application, but this is an estimate not based on data or modelling. They also suggest that over 120 ktP/y could be recycled by processing manure to improve manure nutrient application and crop use, based on 90% of P in manure. This assumes that manure nutrients are today not recycled: a significant part of manure does today go back to land but often not in a place or time or form adapted to crop needs. The authors also suggest that P use efficiency of vegetable materials used to feed livestock could be increased from 40% to 80% by enzyme (phytate) and other pre-treatments (see below), so saving 65 ktP/y use in animal feed, and also reducing P content of manure. They suggest that this lower P content and more plant-available forms of phosphorus in manure will result in improved fertiliser efficiency (ESPP note: Toor & Sims suggest that manure with lower P:carbon ratio increases P losses). Overall the paper identifies as the key action points to improve phosphorus use in Germany and reduce dependency on imports: agricultural management to reduce field losses, manure processing to improve crop phosphorus use efficiency, animal feed P use efficiency and P-recovery from animal by-products.

“Closing the phosphorus cycle: Current P balance and future prospects in Germany”, N. Mayer & M. Kaltschmitt, Journal of Cleaner Production 347 (2022) 131272, DOI.

 

 

 

Enzyme pre-conditioning of pig and poultry feed

A review on phosphorus in animal feeds suggests that phytase enzyme pre-treatment of cereal-based animal feeds, combined with acid treatment or germination, could significantly increase phosphorus use efficiency in livestock. The paper overviews the question of phosphorus in inositol phosphates (phytate) in animal feeds (see SCOPE Newsletter n°74), noting that 20% – 80% of P in seeds and cereals is in the form of phytate, which is poorly digestible for monogastrics (which include humans, pigs, poultry). The paper notes that phytase enzymes are already today widely added to livestock diets to improve gut uptake of P contained in phytate, but do not specify how effective this is in improving P uptake. In ESPP eNews n°47, Olsen reported trials showing 12% - 50% increases in feed P digestibility with addition of phytase to feed. In order to avoid loss of effectiveness of phytase enzyme resulting from breakdown or deactivation in the digestive tract, the authors suggest pre-conditioning of cereal-based livestock feeds, for example by mechanical separation of different parts of seeds or debranning, germination of seeds, treatment with phytase enzymes, chemical or temperature hydrolysis. No data is given as to relative effectiveness of enzymatic pre-treatment compared to enzyme addition in feed, whereas chemical / pH / heat treatment, with or without enzymes, can render >90% of phytate digestible.

“Review. Conditioning of Feed Material Prior to Feeding: Approaches for a Sustainable Phosphorus Utilization”, N. Widderich et al., Sustainability 2022, 14, 3998, DOI.

 

Anaerobic digestion and pharmaceuticals in manures

Anaerobic digestion of manures showed highly variable effectiveness in degrading different pharmaceuticals and different antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). Higher temperatures (thermophilic 55°C compared to mesophilic 35°C, 10-day bottle tests) generally resulted in significantly better removal of pharmaceuticals, but this was not always the case for ARGs. 9 out of 24 pharmaceuticals analysed were found in the poultry manure: one anthelmintic drug (i.e. against worms) and eight antibiotics, in particular fluoroquinolones and tetracyclines. 14 of the 24 pharmaceuticals analysed were found in cattle manure: 1 analgesic (painkiller), 1 anthelmintic and 12 antibiotics. The most present pharmaceutical in poultry manure and second-most in cattle manure was chlortetracycline, with concentrations in the solid fractions of manures of nearly 9 000 and nearly 1 000 µg/kg respectively. This pharmaceutical is recognised as problematic because it is widely used and has a relatively long environmental remanence. Removal in the anaerobic digestion was 40-50% at 35°C and around 80% at 55°C. Certain antibiotic resistance genes were largely removed in the digestion (e.g. qnrS) whereas levels of others were not significantly between digester input and output.

“Occurrence of veterinary drugs and resistance genes during anaerobic digestion of poultry and cattle manures”, S. Zahadi et al., Science of The Total Environment, Volume 822, 20 May 2022, 153477 DOI.

 

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Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews064
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War in Europe

ESPP job offer

Calls
PERM5 call for abstracts: phosphorus research and innovation
PERM5 session on fertilisers from dairy industrial wastes
Call for input: Legacy Phosphorus in Soils
Survey on biofertilisers

Phosphorus events
ESPC4 20-22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online
Phosphates 2022

EU consultations
Digestate processing and other adjustments to the EU Fertilising Products Regulation
EU public consultation: mercury
EU public consultation: soil health
EU public consultation: biodegradable and biobased plastics
EU public consultation: antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
ESPP input submitted to EU consultation on the Waste Framework Directive
EU workshops on R&I needs to support soil and land use policies

Nutrient recovery
New process to recover White Phosphorus without coke or electric heating
Improving agronomic value of digestate nitrogen
Using ammonia for decomposing bio-plastic to fertilising products

Research
Climate change and environmental impacts of sewage works discharge
Recycling oyster shells to phosphate-based dental fillings
Waste biomass as carbon source for possible P recovery from steel slag
Biostimulants and bio-inputs to agriculture
Indicators for resource recovery in wastewater management
Global consortium to develop an open source database of crop nutrient removal

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

 

War in Europe

We cannot publish this eNews without expressing our deepest concern about the suffering of the people of Ukraine and the death and destruction caused by the war launched by the President of the Russian Federation.

This war is susceptible to have considerable impacts on fertiliser supply, and so ultimately on food production in Europe. Prices of fertilisers, already high (see “Supply challenges” ESPP eNews n°62), are expected to rise further, in particular nitrogen fertilisers because natural gas is used to produce ammonia. Russia and the Ukraine were in the past also respectively the world’s biggest and third or fourth (depending on the year) wheat exporters.

To ESPP’s understanding, as this eNews was published, fertilisers and food products are not directly concerned by EU trade sanctions on Russia implemented to date. However, sanctions to the Russian financial system, logistic or other factors may make trade difficult or impossible.

ESPP estimates that the EU, before the attack on Ukraine, imported over 1 billion € of phosphate rock or phosphorus value in fertilisers (including compound fertilisers, e.g. NPK). This is of a similar order to value of EU imports from Russia of aluminium or of steel, around 10 x lower than the value of the EU’s natural gas imports from Russia (see Politico 25/2/22). One estimate suggests that Russia accounted, before attacking Ukraine, for nearly 20% of global phosphate fertilisers trade (inc. compound fertilisers), and that 30% of Russia’s phosphate fertiliser exports are to the EU.

This is however nothing to the suffering of Ukraine and its citizens and the risks to global security.

 

 

ESPP job offer

espp job offerOpen to 8h March. ESPP is looking to engage a Brussels representative, full or part time. Your role will be to develop networking, industry participation and Platform membership, including widening ESPP’s scope beyond phosphorus to recovery of nitrogen and other nutrients. We are looking for someone who can analyse and communicate technical, scientific and regulatory information on phosphorus, nutrients and recycling, who is motivated for environmental objectives and combines a business-development and an association consensus culture. Minimum 5 years’ experience and existing network. Employment could be as salaried staff, consultant status or shared staff with another organisation having similar objectives.

Full job description here www.phosphorusplatform.eu/joboffer2022
Send CV to   by 8th March 2022.

 

 

Calls

 

PERM5 call for abstracts: phosphorus research and innovation

Call open to 8th March 2022.

Perm 5 news 63ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022, making the link between R&D, industry and policy (summary of PERM4, June 2021, 370 participants, in SCOPE Newsletter n°141).

PERM5 sessions proposed include: nutrient recovery in the dairy industry, iron and phosphorus interactions, new fertilisers and biostimulants to improve crop nutrient uptake, Farm-to-Fork Zero Pollution: reducing P losses from agriculture, nature based solutions, decentralised sanitation / separative urine systems, nutrient flow studies …

PERM5 session on fertilisers from dairy industrial wastes.

Call open to 20th March 2022.

Presentations or posters are invited for a session on current and potential development of phosphorus fertilizers produced from dairy processing waste at PERM5, Vienna, 22nd June 2022. Deadline for this session (only) of PERM5 is extended to 20th March 2022. Papers on this theme already submitted will be considered (no need to resubmit). Abstract submission instructions are on the ESPC4 website. This session is co-organized by the MSCA European Training Network REFLOW (814258) focused on this area. The session will display research from various disciplines on the phosphorus flow from dairy industrial wastes back to soil. In addition to presentations and posters selected from abstracts received, the session will cover the use of enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) for dairy processing wastes, combined freeze concentration and membrane filtration for cheese whey treatment, hydrothermal carbonisation with struvite precipitation. Research on the field application of sludge and hydrochar fertilisers will show differences in emissions and recovered fertilizer impact. Results will show the implications of heavy metal contents on legal compliance of novel fertilizers recovered from dairy processing wastes. Research will cover sustainability assessments of the recovery system, from the treatment of the industrial wastewater to the use of the recovered phosphorus, including Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) assessments of multiple scenarios will also be presented.

Call for abstracts for PERM5 (22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online) deadline 8th March 2022

(deadline for the dairy industry processing waste session: 20th March 2022)

Abstract submission instructions https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

Call for input: Legacy Phosphorus in Soils

Over 560 participants joined the ESPP- BOKU webinar on the impacts of reducing “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils, 2nd February 2022, with a very active oral and online chat discussion. As proposed, ESPP will now engage a working group and workshop to write an operational definition of “Legacy P” (input is welcome). The webinar will be followed by SCOPE Newsletter special issue, summarising the webinar presentations and discussions, and also summarising a selection of scientific papers and other reports relevant to Legacy P.

Webinar presentation slides, video recording, Chat transcript are now available here  www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

Please send papers for consideration for inclusion to

 

 

Survey on biofertilisers

A user survey on biofertilisers is open by ELO, dlv, REFLOW, FertiCycle and Ghent University HERE. The aim is to collect information on user attitudes and willingness to pay for bio-sourced fertilisers. A survey on bio-based fertilisers was also organised by Fertimanure in 2021, see ESPP eNews n°53.

 

 

 

Phosphorus events

 

ESPC4
espc4 enews 58 220-22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

 

Phosphates 2022

cru Phosphates 2022 27 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida and online.
The global phosphate industrial and business conference,

10% discount for ESPP members: request the code from ESPP.

CRU Phosphates 2022: https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

 

 

EU consultations

 

Digestate processing and other adjustments to the EU Fertilising Products Regulation

Open to  9th March 2022, EU public consultation on conditions for authorising “post-processed” digestate, (including nitrogen recovery) in the Fertilising Products Regulation, and on various other technical adjustments. For digestates (CMC4 and CMC5) the proposed amendment, which follows from questions and proposals submitted to the European Commission by ESPP and EBA (European Biogas Association) enables certain post-processing of digestates (treatments after the anaerobic digester itself), that is, the use in CE-fertilisers of digestates conform to CMC4 or CMC5 criteria after:

  • Mechanical solid - liquid separation, with use of up to 5% additives necessary for the solid-liquid separation, e.g. coagulants or polymers (subject to REACH registration of the additive where appropriate),
  • Physical processing to remove water (where the process does not chemically modify the digestate),
  • Removal of soluble ammonium to recover nitrogen.

ESPP notes that (to our understanding):

  • Recovered nitrogen products (resulting from the ammonia removal above) are expected to be covered by the proposed new CMC15 (see ESPP eNews n°63) subject to purity and other requirements.
  • Mechanical conditioning of digestate (fractions), such as drying (low or ambient temperature, solar), compacting, pelletising or granulation, removal of fibres … are not cited in the proposed amendments. ESPP will request that the eligibility of such processes, which are standard fertilising product conditioning processes, be clarified in the European Commission’s “Frequently Answered Questions” (FAQ).
  • Addition of a chemical to adjust the pH of digestate is considered to be a combination of two CMCs (digestate fraction, pH additive chemical), that is the chemical itself must be CMC (e.g. CMC1).
  • Non-mechanical post-processing treatments of digestate, such as ion removal by precipitation, ion exchange, adsorption, plasma treatment, electrostatic separation … are NOT covered by the amendments, and digestate (fractions) after such treatments cannot be included in CE-fertilisers.

ESPP notes that post-processing of composts CMC3 (e.g. dewatering) is NOT covered by the proposed amendments, presumably because the compost industry did not indicate that such processes could be relevant for placing composts on the market.

The other technical adjustments include text clarifications concerning nitrification inhibitors and specifying how efficiency is tested for such products (which aim to reduce nitrate leaching risk) and adjustments to ensure coherence with other existing EU texts or with the FPR itself: registration requirements for magnesia and for polymers, PCB limits in pyrolysis and gasification materials, conformity assessment of biostimulants.

EU public consultation open to 9th March 2022 “Fertilising products - technical amendments to the rules” HERE.

 

 

EU public consultation: mercury

Open to 3 May 2022. Consultation questions whether mercury should be banned in dental fillings and emissions from crematoria limited. Both actions would significantly reduce mercury levels in sewage and biosolids. Around 1/5th of global mercury use is in dental amalgam (fillings). Dental amalgam is the largest source of mercury to sewage biosolids, mainly from losses during use by dentists*. The European Commission states that in 2018 dental amalgam was the largest remaining application of mercury in the EU (following bans in electronics, thermometers, …) and that emissions from dental clinics have been reduced by an obligation to install filters. However, mercury in dental amalgam also reaches sewage and the environment with small emissions in urine and faeces** and in exhaled breath* of people with mercury in their teeth, and with significant emissions from crematoria originating from amalgam in teeth. The EU consultation documents cites OSPAR/HELCOM as identifying crematoria as a significant atmospheric emission of mercury, part of which will also reach sewage after falling back to land or water. To date, mercury is banned in amalgam for certain sensitive persons and alternatives exist (HCWH 2019). ESPP will input to the EU consultation supporting a ban on mercury amalgam (except in specific cases where there is no medical alternative) because mercury in sewage is an obstacle to some routes of reuse and recycling of sewage sludge nutrients and carbon.

* Vazquez Tibau “Mercury contamination from dental amalgam”, DOI citing Eureau 2016, US EPA 2019

** see e.g. Björkman 1997 DOI Dye 2005 DOI.

EU public consultation, open to 3 May 2022 “Mercury – review of EU law” HERE.

 

 

EU public consultation: soil health

Open to 16th March 2022. Call for evidence and input on orientations for a proposed EU Soil Health Directive, addressing questions including land take, nutrient losses, soil erosion, pollutant contamination. ESPP is preparing a submission to underline (subject to comments and input): that soil health is important to reducing losses of phosphorus and nitrogen to water (eutrophication) and that climate change will accentuate nutrient losses, the potential for returning organic carbon to land in nutrient recycling (digestates, composts, organic fertilisers), the importance of reducing or banning soil contaminants (e.g. PFAS, mercury). ESPP will also underline that a Soil Health Directive should ensure comparable constraints, including level cost playing field, for imported products, in order to avoid “export” outside the EU of soil degradation related to EU consumption of food, animal feed or consumer products.

To 16th march 2022 EU better regulation ‘Have your Say’ website LINK.

 

 

EU public consultation: biodegradable and biobased plastics

Open to 15th March 2022. ESPP will input that, to avoid obstacles to nutrient recycling, “biodegradable” plastics should be compatible with anaerobic digestion, and that plastic additives and microplastics should non-toxic. ESPP’s proposed position (open to comment) is that, because “biodegradable” plastics and microplastics are found in sewage sludge and food wastes, full degradability (to CO2 in composting or to methane in anaerobic digestion, or to agronomically valuable materials for return of nutrients and organic carbon to soil) should be required in both composting (in conditions of both industrial and household/garden composting) and in anaerobic digestion.  Microplastics are a significant concern for contamination of organic waste streams and a potential obstacle to the nutrient Circular Economy and to the return of carbon to soils. EU chemical policy should phase out or restrict consumer or industrial chemicals which are found in microplastics or in sewage sludge and which pose potential toxicity or soil- or bio-accumulation issues. Should be addressed in particular PFAS/PFOS and other halogenated compounds, cadmium in artists paints, mercury in dental amalgam.

To 15th March 2022 “European Green Deal: Commission launches public consultation on biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics” LINK.

 

 

EU public consultation: antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

Open to 24th March 2022. The proposed roadmap notes that inappropriate use of antibiotics in animals and humans is a key driver, but does not refer to implications for the Circular Economy due to contamination of manure and sewage. ESPP proposes (subject to comment and input) to input underlining that AMR in manure and sewage biosolids is a potential obstacle to nutrient recycling and to the return of organic carbon to soil, because of risk or perceived risk. ESPP proposes: as first priority to reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics, especially in livestock; to fix thresholds for antibiotic release from hospitals and livestock production; to develop where possible biodegradable antibiotic molecules, to harmonise reporting of AMR and to develop robust risk assessments of AMR in soil and crops; to develop processes to degrade and remove pharmaceuticals in sewage and manure treatment, including composting and anaerobic digestion.

To 24th March 2022, EU consultation “Antimicrobial resistance – recommendation for greater action” LINK.

 

 

 

ESPP input submitted to EU consultation on the Waste Framework Directive

ESPP underlined the need to improve (e.g. with legally binding targets) prevention and separate collection of food waste and organics, to facilitate nutrient recycling, and noted the need for clarification of definitions of biowaste, for example concerning food industry and animal feed processing wastes and sludges. ESPP pointed to studies suggesting that global food waste contributes 8% of anthropogenic greenhouse emissions, c. 60 000 tP/y lost in food waste for the EU27, phosphorus in food waste represents 120 days of nutrition P requirements, and that the P-footprint of food waste in China is c. 16% of fertiliser use.

EU public consultation on revision of the Waste Framework Directive, closed 22nd February 2022 LINK to submissions received.

 

 

EU workshops on R&I needs to support soil and land use policies

Workshops on 7th and 8th March 2022 (both 14h – 17h CET online) to validate the research gap analysis to define an R&I Roadmap for sustainable soil and land management for the Horizon Europe Mission “A soil deal for Europe”.

Register here. Soil Mission Support www.soilmissionsupport.eu

 

 

 

Nutrient recovery

 

 

New process to recover White Phosphorus without coke or electric heating

nutrient recoverySTOWA has published a report on lab tests and thermodynamic modelling of Spodofos (Thermus BV), a new process to produce elemental P4 from secondary materials using waste aluminium as the energy source. Secondary aluminium (post-consumer, low quality) is heated to c. 600°C with a dry secondary material containing phosphorus, e.g. sewage sludge incineration ash, bone meal or precipitated phosphate salts. This causes a solid-solid, thermite reaction (exothermic), which raises the temperature to > 1800°C without further input of electricity nor coke. Unlike in conventional P4 reducing furnaces (using coke and electricity), pre-sintering of the input materials is not necessary, and carbon-monoxide is not generated. External heat energy is only needed for preheating the input materials, because of the intrinsic energy content of the secondary aluminium. The process has been tested at the lab scale (100g) and pilot development is now planned. The STOWA report concludes that feasibility is shown by thermodynamical modelling and expert evaluation of the laboratory experiments, but that additional tests may be needed to assess how the process can deal with iron (comes out as low value by-product, ferrophosphorus) and contaminants such as zinc, copper, arsenic. Scale-up will require development of specific reaction mixture conditioning and furnace. Economic feasibility will probably depend on the price of the aluminium scrap and the possible value of the high aluminium slag generated, in which contaminants are immobilised by high-temperature vitrification.

STOWA (Netherlands water boards’ joint research foundation) report (in Dutch) 5th January 2022

 

 

Improving agronomic value of digestate nitrogen

N2 Applied (an ESPP member) starts plasma treatment at More Biogas’ plant, Småland, Southern Sweden, a 90 000 t/y manure and food waste plant, where N2 Applied stabilises and enhances nitrogen in the liquid fraction of digestate. This produces a stable agronomic product adapted to farmers needs and crop nutrient requirements. This is with the BalticWaters2030 project “Circular NP” and with the More Biogas company, owned principally by some twenty chicken, pig and cow farmers around Förlösa, Läckeby and Rockneby  north of Kalmar, Sweden. The N2 Applied process (see ESPP-DPP-NNP Nutrient Recovery Technology Catalogue) uses electricity (preferably renewable) to stabilise nitrogen in organic wastes (manure, digestate …) to ammonium nitrate, by combination with atmospheric N2, so also enhancing the nitrogen content (better balancing nutrients to plant requirements), lowering pH and reducing ammonia and greenhouse emissions. In addition to this nitrogen-rich liquid fertiliser, the NP project aims to develop a phosphorus-rich solid organic fertiliser product from the solid fraction of the digestate.

Circular NP project, with Horizon2020, Baltic Waters, SLU (Swedish Agricultural University), RISE Sweden, Swedish Farmers' Foundation for Agricultural Research https://n2applied.com/2021/11/24/more-biogas/

 

 

Using ammonia for decomposing bio-plastic to fertilising products

Ammonia is shown to completely degrade the bio-based polymer PIC to produce urea and the isosorbide monomer (ISB, a sugar). The resulting urea + ISB showed to be an effective fertiliser, with the ISB enhancing plant nitrogen use. PIC, poly (isosorbide carbonate), is a bio-based plastic based on isosorbide (ISB), which is derived from glucose. Tests showed complete degradation of PIC to ISB by reacting with aqueous ammonia solution at 90°C for 6 hours, without solvent or catalyst. Such ammonolysis (using ammonia to break down polymers) is a known reaction. This study showed that the resulting material, a mixture of urea and ISB monomer, could be directly used as a fertiliser in pot trials with Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress). The generated material showed the same N-fertiliser effectiveness as commercial urea, and the ICB enhanced the fertiliser effectiveness, presumably acting as a biostimulant. ESPP notes that these results may not transpose to more widely used or synthetic polymers, and that it could be considered preferable to re-use the ISB monomer in plastics production rather than putting it on soil. The title of the paper is misleading in that the nitrogen is not recycled but comes from ‘virgin’ ammonia.

“Plastics to fertilizers: chemical recycling of a bio-based polycarbonate as a fertilizer source”, T. Abe et al., Green Chemistry issue 22, 2021 DOI.

 

 

 

 

Research

 

Climate change and environmental impacts of sewage works discharge

Modelling in Central – Western Europe suggests that climate change will result in significant ecological risk from discharges from sewage works into smaller waterways for phosphorus, and especially for ammonia. The study was based on data from the Rhine, Elbe and Weser catchments, which have significantly differing climate and hydrological responses, excluding Switzerland (which does not report data to the EU) and France (nutrient discharge data not reported), covering around 3200 sewage works (wwtps) in Germany, Czech Republic and The Netherlands. Sewage works were classified into five sizes (population served). Sewage works discharge was matched to river flow at wwtp discharge point, based on a 5 km grid hydrological model (mHM) and the GFDL(ESM2M/RCP8.5 3K greenhouse warming scenario. Results suggest that wwtp discharge will cause ecological risk to prevail in the future in smaller watercourses, for all sizes of wwtp (and in particular for wwtps 5 000 – 100 000 p.e.).. The risks from ammonia discharge were highest because of emissions from smaller wwtp. The authors conclude that sewage treatment legislation needs to strongly take into account the capacity of the receiving watercourse (ESPP note: this is the case in the Water Framework Directive, but not in the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive) and that regulation should be developed for ammonia in discharges from small wwtps.

“What Determines the Future Ecological Risks of Wastewater Discharges in River Networks: Load, Location or Climate Change?”, S. Yang et al., EarthArXiv preprint 2022 https://doi.org/10.31223/X5X062

 

 

Recycling oyster shells to phosphate-based dental fillings

Sintered oyster shells were reacted with phosphoric acid to produce hydroxyapatite (HAP = calcium phosphate) then combined with zinc phosphate to produce a dental cement material. Calcium phosphate is the main constituent of bones and teeth and hydroxyapatite can bond onto this. Here, HAP was produced by cleaning, grinding and then sintering (900°C) waste oyster shells (Crassostrea madrasensis) to produce CaO, which was then reacted with phosphoric acid with pH maintained at 8 – 10 to control the Ca:P stoichiometric ratio. The precipitated HAP was then again sintered at 800°C resulting in a material similar to Ca5(PO4)3(OH)2.. Zinc phosphate was prepared by reacting zinc metal with phosphoric acid. The zinc phosphate and HAP were then ceramified at 1000°C with traces of magnesium, silicate and aluminium, with mixtures of 0 – 50% HAP / 100 – 50% zinc phosphate. Lab tests suggested that the recycled HAP was comparable to commercial HAP and could be incorporated into zinc phosphate dental cement, maintaining or improving mechanical properties and elution (risk of dissolution of the filling in the mouth).

“Development of a Novel Dental Filling Using Hydroxyapatite Derived from Waste Oyster Shells”, M. Uresha et al., J. Technology and Value Addition, Volume 3 (1), 2021: (1-18) LINK.

 

 

Waste biomass as carbon source for possible P recovery from steel slag

Risk husk waste, after pyrolysis, showed to remove c. 80% of phosphorus from synthetic steel slag with c. 4%P at 1500°C, but the resulting phosphorus was bound to iron so would not be directly useable as a fertiliser. The waste rice husk from agri-food industry was first carbonised (pyrolyzed) by heating to 450 – 600 °C in anoxic condition, to increase its carbon content and reactivity. It was then mixed with 20g of synthetic steel slag (industrial steel slag was not used because of its high variability) and heated to 1500°C for 30 minutes with a 3:1 carbon:P ratio (c. 10:1 carbonised rice husk:P).The iron depleted slag could be used as a raw material for steel production, with high calcium and silicon, so without pre(slagging. The phosphorus was removed from the slag as particles of iron-phosphorus compounds, mainly Fe3P, with P content of 2 – 12 %. The authors suggest that this could processed to fertiliser (citing Morita 2002).

“Effective removal of phosphorus from high phosphorus steel slag using carbonized rice husk”, Z. Wang et al., J Environmental Scient 124(2023) 156-164 DOI.

 

 

Biostimulants and bio-inputs to agriculture

Workshop of over 250 participants concludes the need for more biologically integrated agriculture and harmonised regulations and definitions for biostimulants, biological crop protectants and soil improvers. The workshop proposed a definition of ‘bio-intensification’ as achieving adequate yields from minimum land area by increasing and sustaining biodiversity and soil fertility. Biostimulants and soil improvers were defined as per the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation (2019/1009). Bio-protectants were defined as various biocontrol agents (including “botanicals” – which are not defined in the article). Definitions clearly do pose a problem, in that the article uses the term ‘bio-fertiliser’ to mean ‘bio-stimulant’, whereas many authors use this term to mean fertilisers derived from biological materials or organic wastes. The article notes that the EU Fertilising Product Regulation defines ‘biostimulants’ by the claim to “stimulate plant nutrition processes” but without requirements of efficacy or composition. Bioprotectants, on the other hand, face high registration costs under the EU 1107/2009 (Plant Protection Products). Nonetheless, there are over 1 600 such products on the market in the EU, nearly 90% of which from SMEs (source: IBMA International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association). Overall, the workshop concluded that bio-inputs inputs cannot completely replace agrochemicals without changing farm production systems.

“Biostimulants, soil improvers, bioprotectants: promoters of bio‑intensification in plant production”, F. Feldmann et al., J. Plant Diseases and Protection, 2022 DOI.

 

 

Indicators for resource recovery in wastewater management

The Circular Economy Monitoring Framework does not to date consider resources from wastewater. This paper summarises literature, outlines key questions and proposes indicators for wastewater treatment circularity. Identified publications on indicators related to the wastewater sector have significantly increased since around 2014, with very 0 - 2 per year before that, up to 20 in 2021. Identified indicators include wastewater treatment (e.g. organic matter removal), chemical usage in treatment, biogas production, nutrient recovery. Recommendations are made for the design of indicators of wastewater management circularity: address both local and global dimensions of circular economy, need for a range of indicators enabling selection of indicators relevant for a given context (e.g. quality and contaminant indicators relevant for sewage sludge will be different if the destination is incineration or land valorisation), use of appropriate units, coverage of the whole wastewater generation - collection - treatment cycle. A simple proposed indicator set is outlined: rate of recovery of nutrients (N and P), rate of recovery of organic matter (valorised to soil), reuse of treated wastewater (internally within the wwtp or for fertigation or other local needs), energy self-sufficiency (taking into account energy produced). It is noted however that questions such as bio-availability of recovered nutrients should also be considered. The weighting of different indicators will depend on the local situation (e.g. in some regions water reuse is more important than in others). The authors note that the development of appropriate and recognised indicators of wastewater management circularity is important to increase business and social awareness and acceptance of recycling of wastewater-derived materials and to support public policies for nutrient recycling.

“Indicators for resource recovery monitoring within the circular economy model implementation in the wastewater sector”, M. Preisner, M. Smol et al., J. Environmental Management 304 (2022) 114261 DOI.

 

 

Global consortium to develop an open source database of crop nutrient removal

The Consortium for Precision Crop Nutrition (CPCN), whose members are over 30 fertilisers companies, agricultural R&D institutes and global organisations, are collaborating on an open source, global crop nutrient removal database. The database will be used to improve estimates of crop nutrient removal and nutrient use efficiency at local to global levels. Input of field experiment data is invited.

Contact Wageningen WUR scientist Cameron Ludemann

 

 

Stay informed

SCOPE newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SCOPEnewsletter         
eNews newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNewshome
If you do not already receive SCOPE and eNews (same emailing list), subscribe at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/subscribe

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/european-sustainable-phosphorus-platform/           

Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

Twitter: @phosphorusfacts         
 

ESPP members

espp members

 

Public consultation on digestate and other adjustments

Open to  9th March 2022, EU public consultation on conditions for authorising “post-processed” digestate, including after nitrogen recovery, in the Fertilising Products Regulation, and on various other technical adjustments. For digestates (CMC4 and CMC5) the proposed amendment, which follows from questions and proposals submitted to the European Commission by ESPP and EBA (European Biogas Association) enables certain post-processing of digestates (treatments after the anaerobic digester itself), that is, the use in CE-fertilisers of digestates conform to CMC4 or CMC5 criteria after:

  • ·Mechanical solid - liquid separation, with use of up to 5% additives necessary for the solid-liquid separation, e.g. coagulants or polymers (subject to REACH registration of the additive where appropriate)
  • ·Physical processing to remove water (where the process does not chemically modify the digestate)
  • ·Removal of soluble ammonium to recover nitrogen

ESPP notes that (to our understanding):

  • Recovered nitrogen products (resulting from the ammonia removal above) are expected to be covered by the proposed new CMC15 (see ESPP eNews n°63) subject to purity and other requirements.
  • Mechanical conditioning of digestate (fractions), such as drying (low or ambient temperature, solar), compacting, pelletising or granulation, removal of fibres … are not cited in the proposed amendments. ESPP will request that the eligibility of such processes, which are standard fertilising product conditioning processes, be clarified in the European Commission’s “Frequently Answered Questions” (FAQ).
  • Addition of a chemical to adjust the pH of digestate is considered to be a combination of two CMCs (digestate fraction, pH additive), that is the chemical itself must be CMC (e.g. CMC1).
  • Chemical post-processing of digestate, such as ion removal by precipitation, ion exchange, adsorption, plasma treatment, electrostatic separation … are NOT covered by the amendments, and digestate (fractions) after such chemical processing cannot be included in CE-fertilisers

ESPP notes that post-processing of composts CMC3 (e.g. dewatering) is NOT covered by the proposed amendments, presumably because the compost industry did not indicate that such processes could be relevant for placing composts on the market.

The other adjustments include text clarifications concerning nitrification inhibitors and specifying how efficiency is tested for such products (which aim to reduce nitrate leaching risk) and adjustments to ensure coherence with other existing EU texts or of the FPR itself: registration requirements for magnesia and for polymers, PCB limits in pyrolysis and gasification materials, conformity assessment of biostimulants.

EU public consultation open to 9th March 2022 “Fertilising products - technical amendments to the rules” HERE.

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews063
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ESPP job offer

Calls and consultations
Call for abstracts open to 27/2/22: phosphorus research and innovation (PERM5)
Call for input: Legacy Phosphorus in Soils
EU public consultation on the Waste Framework Directive

ESPP to address nitrogen recycling

Phosphorus events
ESPC4 20-22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online
Phosphates 2022

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR)
CMCs for by-products & certain recovered minerals, inc. ammonium salts

Nutrient recycling
CCm to implement P and N recovery with Yorkshire Water
Ductor recycled nitrogen approved for use in US Organic Farming

Research
Biochar, organic carbon molecules and P-solubilisation
Phos4You final project report
Science summary on plant phosphorus and use efficiency
Phosphorus levels in Organic and conventional food products
Elevated CO2 increases soil P mineralisation but decreases plant-available P
Climate variation likely to increase soil phosphorus losses (bis)

Misleading research
Erroneous research paper on phosphates in food

Stay informed

ESPP members


ESPP job offer

espp job offerAre you looking for a new challenge in sustainability, with networking across industry, science and regulation? ESPP is looking to engage a Brussels representative, full or part time. Your role will be to develop networking, industry participation and Platform membership, including widening scope beyond phosphorus to recovery of nitrogen and other nutrients. We are looking for someone who can analyse and communicate technical, scientific and regulatory information on phosphorus, nutrients and recycling, who is motivated for environmental objectives and combines a business-development and an association consensus culture. Minimum 5 years’ experience, existing network Employment could be as salaried staff, consultant status or shared staff with another organisation having similar objectives.

Full job description here www.phosphorusplatform.eu/joboffer2022 Send CV to   before 5th March 2022.

Please pass on this information to potentially interested contacts.

 

 

Calls and consultations

 

Call for abstracts open to 27/2/22: phosphorus research and innovation (PERM5)

Perm 5 news 63ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022, making the link between R&D, industry and policy (summary of PERM4, June 2021, 370 participants, in SCOPE Newsletter n°141).

Sessions proposed include: nutrient recovery in the dairy industry, iron and phosphorus interactions, new fertilisers and biostimulants to improve crop nutrient uptake, Farm-to-Fork Zero Pollution: reducing P losses from agriculture, nature based solutions, decentralised sanitation / separative urine systems, nutrient flow studies …

The call for abstracts is now open for PERM5 (22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online)
deadline for submission 27th February 2022
https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Call for input: Legacy Phosphorus in Soils

Over 560 participants joined the ESPP- BOKU webinar on the impacts of reducing “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils, 2nd February 2022, with a very active oral and online chat discussion. As proposed, ESPP will now engage a working group and workshop to write an operational definition of “Legacy P” (input is welcome). The webinar will be followed by SCOPE Newsletter special issue, summarising the webinar presentations and discussions, and also summarising a selection of scientific papers and other reports relevant to Legacy P.

Webinar presentation slides, video recording, Chat record will be made available here www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP
Please send papers for consideration for inclusion to
by 27th February 2022

 

EU public consultation on the Waste Framework Directive

An EU public ‘Roadmap’ consultation is open to 22nd February 2022 on revision of the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98, aiming to prevent waste generation, address food waste and waste oil, and improve separate collection. The Roadmap consultation stage enables impact on the objectives and aspects to be considered in the revision. The Commission’s proposed Roadmap suggests options including better implementation of waste prevention, re-use and recycling; clarifying EU guidance on separate collection and on EPR (extended producer responsibility) and possible regulatory measures on waste reduction and prevention, EPR (in particular for online sales), source separation, waste oil collection and regeneration. ESPP underlines that improving separate collection of household organic waste and prevention – reduction or re-use of food waste are of potential importance for nutrient stewardship.

EU public consultation on the Waste Framework Directive, open to 22nd February 2022, submission = 4000 characters text statement and/or document HERE.

 

ESPP to address nitrogen recycling

As indicated in our previous eNews, the 2021 General Assembly decided to widen ESPP’s action (currently all aspects of phosphorus sustainability) to cover recycling of nitrogen and of other elements. The General Assembly decided to widen to recovery/ recycling/ reuse of nitrogen and of other elements, but not to engage ESPP in questions such as crop nitrogen use efficiency, nitrogen losses from agriculture, nitrogen in the food chain or nitrogen and climate change.

In 2014, it was decided by the founding members of ESPP to establish a “phosphorus” platform and not a “nutrient” platform, in order to not duplicate existing initiatives on nitrogen. Thus, ESPP’s name is “Phosphorus” platform. We have seen however that ESPP’s action concerning phosphorus recycling (e.g. regulatory questions, science, recycling technologies, organic inputs, recycled fertilising products …) is often also relevant to recycling of nitrogen and/or other elements, and often engages the same network of contacts.

There is currently increasing interest in nitrogen recovery driven by pressures to “capture” N emissions (ammonia = National Emissions Ceilings Directive, N2O greenhouse gas) and (maybe temporarily) by natural gas price and supply issues.

The ESPP Board has discussed how to take forward the General Assembly decision to widen of ESPP’s activities to cover recycling of nitrogen and other elements, and proposes to make small changes to ESPP’s statutes to modify the association’s objective of “phosphorus sustainability in Europe” to add “and recycling of other nutrients”.

The Board has decided to launch an ESPP ‘Working Group on Recycling of Nitrogen and Other Elements’ to meet 2-3 times per year to discuss how to take forward ESPP action: defining priorities, partner organisations, resources. If you are interested to participate contact

Precise texts of proposed modifications to ESPP statutes in French (legally binding) and English (indicative translation) are online here https://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/platform/about-espp and comments are welcome. Comments will be submitted to a General Assembly to be held by email in early Spring 2022 (quorum to modify association objectives: 2/3 of Members participating in vote, 4/5 of votes in favour - statutes art. 15).

 

Phosphorus events

 

espc4 enews 58 2ESPC4
20-22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

The detailed programme of the
4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4)
is now published.

Confirmed speakers include Virginijus Sinkevičius European Commissioner for Environment; Sibylla Hardmeier, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (BAFU); Andrea Roskosch, German Federal Environment Agency (UBA); Franz Josef Radermacher, Research Institute for Applied Knowledge Processing (FAWn), Germany; Mahesh Pradhan, United Nations Environment; Wenfeng Liu, China Agricultural University …

ESPC4 (20-21 June 2022, Vienna and hybrid) will be the first major phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

The published programme includes pre-selected speakers for the six ESPC4 parallel sessions:
- Nutrient recovery technologies operational showcase
- Nutrient recovery technologies in development
- Phosphorus recovery from ashes
- Biochars and hydrothermal carbonisation
- Regional nutrient policies and actions
- New and bio-based fertilisers
ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies, currently being updated (see below).

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Phosphates 2022

cru Phosphates 2022 27 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida. Programme now online. This is “the” phosphate industry professional conference, with over 400 participants. Phosphates 2022 will be in-person (with an online option), and a major chance to re-connect with the phosphate industry, from mining through rock and acid processing, to fertilisers, feed phosphates and technical phosphates. The two-day conference will have a dual agenda: commercial - market – regulatory, and technical and industry operational. 10% discount for ESPP members: request the code from ESPP. CRU Phosphates 2022: https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR)

CMCs for by-products & certain recovered minerals, inc. ammonium salts

The European Commission has now finalised FPR criteria to add CMCs (Component Material Categories) for CMC11 (By-Products) and CMC15 (certain recovered minerals), including phosphogypsum and recovered ammonium salts. In the FPR, the CMCs provide a limitative list of materials which can be used as ingredients for EU fertilisers (CMC1 allows use of any ‘virgin’ material = non-waste derived. Secondary materials can only be used if specifically covered by one of the other CMCs).

CMC1 allows the use of (non-waste derived) by-products as precursors for chemical reactions to produce FPR ingredients, but does not allow the use in EU fertilisers of By-Products (not chemically reacted). The criteria for CMC11 now specify which By-Products can be used directly as ingredients, as such. The finalised criteria cover a short list of seven specific industry by-products (see below) plus more generally certain pure mineral salts (including phosphate and ammonium salts) subject to 95% purity and < 0.5% organic carbon. ESPP regrets that organic by-products are thus excluded (unless specifically covered in other CMCs), as are mineral by-products derived from plant materials (e.g. in the paper and pulp industries). This is because information on examples of such by-products was not provided by industry. In all cases, certain contaminants are specifically limited in by-products under CMC11: radioactivity (request made by ESPP), total chromium, thallium, vanadium. Quality phosphogypsum will thus be eligible. Phosphogypsum is today used widely in Finland as a soil amendment with proven effect in reducing phosphorus losses to surface waters (see ESPP eNews n°36).

CMC15 opens use in EU fertilisers to certain waste-recovered pure mineral salts. Purity requirements are as above (95% purity, < 0.5% C-org) plus limitations of certain contaminants and pathogens. As under CMC11, only certain mineral salts are covered, including phosphate and ammonium salts. ESPP requested that potassium and magnesium salts be also included, but this was not implemented because industry had not provided examples. The mineral salt must be recovered from “waste generated from” either (art. 2a) “a production process” or (2b) “a gas purification or emission control process designed to remove nutrients from off-gases” with certain input materials (non-waste, separately collected bio-waste, municipal refuse, sludge, manure, livestock housing and certain other wastes).

It is ESPP’s understanding that CMC15, as finalised, therefore covers (subject to the purity and contaminant criteria), inter alia:

  • struvite or phosphate salts recovered from phosphogypsum, where the phosphogypsum is a waste which has been generated from phosphate rock processing (gypsum stack), or recovered from other fertiliser industry waste streams. Phosphogypsum produced as part of the rock processing would be CMC11 (By-Product);
  • ammonium salts recovered from gas treatment, such as anaerobic digester biogas purification or from digestate gas stripping, or from municipal waste incineration off-gas, or from manure storage or livestock stable off-gas.

ESPP suggested that ammonia salts recovered from manure storage, livestock stable ventilation gases or off-gases from e.g. manure digestate should be subject to Animal By-Product End Point requirements, in order to guarantee sanitary safety. It was answered that gases are excluded from the Animal By-Product regulations.

ESPP suggests that a number of questions concerning CMC11 and CMC15 need to be clarified, with examples, in the European Commission’s FPR ‘FAQ’ (Frequently Asked Questions). In particular:

  • if a struvite or a precipitated phosphate is recovered from phosphogypsum during the phosphate rock processing (before the phosphogypsum becomes a “waste”), then is this precipitated phosphate CMC1, not CMC15 (so not subject to any purity or contaminant criteria) ?
  • what about ammonium salts recovered from gases which are not “waste” (CMC15 covers only recovery from waste), e.g. recovered from digester biogas purification (can this be CMC1 despite the digester taking waste as input) ?
  • if gases are not Animal By-Products, and so also not ammonia salts recovered by ammonia stripping from digestates or from manure storage off-gas, then how can sanitary safety be guaranteed ?
  • what about pure mineral products with ‘waste’ status (such as spent acids) which are used as precursors in chemical processes for fertiliser production (excluded from CMC1 because of waste status, not CMC15 because not used as such in the EU fertiliser product ?

Specific by-products listed in CMC11 (in addition to pure mineral salts): from methionine process, processing mineral ores, Solvay process, acetylene production, iron industry, metal surface treatment (micro-nutrients), humic/fulvic acids from drinking water treatment – see criteria for precise specifications. The finalised criteria for CMC11 and CMC15 are now under translation, and will then be published in the Official Journal, hopefully in time for the entry into implementation of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009 in July 2022.
Finalised versions: CMC11 delegated act text and criteria - CMC15 delegated act text - CMC15 criteria

 

Nutrient recycling

 

CCm to implement P and N recovery with Yorkshire Water

Nutrient recycling news 63CCm Technologies’ process uses captured ammonia and CO2 from anaerobic digestion to combine with organics, stabilising N and P to produce a pelletised organo-mineral carbonate fertiliser, so reducing greenhouse gas emissions, see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°134. The technology has been demonstrated for three years in the UK (500 t/y output pilot). Full scale plants (10 – 12 000 t/y fertiliser production) are in operation since 2021 at Severn Trent Water Minworth UK wwtp (sewage sludge digestate) and in delivery with Walkers Crisps (Pepsico), Leicester, UK (food industry digestates). A pilot (4 m3/day) also recovering phosphorus from P-rich sludge dewatering streams is also under construction at Yorkshire Water Caldervale wwtp. The CCm plant at Walkers (Pepsico) will recycle ammonia and organics from potato peelings anaerobic digestion and CO2 from a brewery to organo-mineral fertiliser, so reducing Walkers potato supply chain carbon emissions by 70%. The CCm technology has been featured on BBC Radio’s Farming Today 2/7/2021. Field tests of the fertiliser product show compatibility of the pellets with existing farm fertiliser equipment: rotating discs up to 30m wide spreading radius), crop performance comparable to commercial mineral fertilisers and positive impacts on soil bioflora, water retention, soil carbon and reduced nutrient runoff.

BBC “Beer and crisps used to help tackle climate change”, 7/12/2020.

BBC Farming Today 2/7/2021 (4 minutes radio report, trial site, Bedfordshire, UK, with Cranfield University).
CCm Technologies: http://ccmtechnologies.co.uk/ and technology details in the ESPP-NNP-DPP Nutrient Recycling Technology Catalogue http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory
Photo: full scale plant operating at Severn Trent Water, Minworth wastewater treatment plant, UK

 

 

Ductor recycled nitrogen approved for use in US Organic Farming

ESPP member, Ductor, has obtained California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Organic Input Material (OIM) registration, so giving USDA Organic compliance for liquid nitrogen fertiliser recovered from anaerobic digestion of chicken manure. The liquid 5-0-0 nitrogen fertiliser provides rapidly plant available, soluble nitrogen in ammoniac form, according to crop demand. The fertiliser is recovered from the chicken litter digestate by ammonia stripping from digestate. Methane production by anaerobic digestion means that the recovered nitrogen fertiliser is climate neutral. A solid organic NPK fertiliser is also under development.

“Ductor’s first commercial fertilizer product now available and certified Organic”, 6 September 2021 and  https://www.ductor.com/fertilizers

 

 

Research

Biochar, organic carbon molecules and P-solubilisation

Lab study suggests that organic acids released by ionisation of wood biochar can solubilise P in hydroxyapatite, so potentially improving plant P uptake in soils. The paper by Sacko et al. shows that the ozonisation of pine wood pyrolysis biochar increased oxygen functional groups on the biochar surface and caused release of water-soluble organic acids (probably COOH groups). The filtrate from biochar ionisation significantly released soluble P from hydroxyapatite at its generated pH of around 6, but also when neutralised to pH7: releasing 2 – 9 x more P at pH7 than water. This lower effect at neutral pH is expected from literature (Glaser 2019 cited) but most European soils are slightly acidic at pH6 or lower. It should be noted that humic compounds are considered to also increase crop P uptake by interactions with plant hormones, root membranes and P-mobilising bacteria in the soil (see Jindo 2020).

In a second paper by Tumbure et al., condensate from pyrolysis of maize stover (stem+leaves) was tested for P solubilisation of ground Dorowa phosphate rock. The pyrolysis condensates only solubilised around 14% of the phosphorus in the rock, compared to 46% by oxalic acid, at similar pH of 3 – 3.8. The poor solubilisation by pyrolysis condensates was suggested to be related to low concentrations of chelating and complexing agents and significant calcium in the condensates.

“Sustainable Green Chemistry: Water-Soluble Ozonized Biochar Molecules To Unlock Phosphorus from Insoluble Phosphate Materials”, O. Sacko et al., ACS Agric. Sci. Technol. 2022 DOI.

“Phosphorus recovery from an igneous phosphate rock using organic acids and pyrolysis condensate“, A. Tumbure et al., Scientific African 15 (2022) e01098 DOI.

 

Phos4You final project report

The Phos4You Interreg project (ESPP member) has concluded that the tested P-recovery processes are technically feasible and ready for upscaling, and generate P fertilisers corresponding to farmers’ or industry requirements.

For the recovery of phosphorus from sewage sludge ashes (SSA), three different acid-leaching processes were assessed:

  • REMONDIS TetraPhos®: phosphoric acid leaching. For information (outside Phos4You project): a full scale 20 000 t/y TetraPhos plant has been constructed and is under commissioning in Hamburg, Germany, following process testing for over two years in a pilot scale plant with a capacity of 50 kg/h (see SCOPE Newsletters n°141 and 129). Within the Phos4You project, several tonnes of three different ashes were treated in the pilot plant.
  • PARFORCE-Technology: hydrochloric acid leaching. This process was tested in a pilot scale plant with batch acid leaching (150 – 250 kg ash per batch) and semi-continuous purification, using a total of around one tonne of SSA in several campaigns.
  • Phos4Life™: sulphuric acid leaching. Laboratory proof of concept tests were carried out with several kilograms of SSA to evaluate the leaching properties and impurities removal.

All three of these processes were tested with different qualities of SSA with relatively low P-content between 5 and 6 % (literature range of 6 – 13% P for municipal sewage sludge incineration ash). With all three processes a P- recovery rate over 80 % was achieved, as required by German P-recovery legislation. The technologies were additionally tested for, and managed to cope with SSA with high percentage of industrial sewage sludge (high impurities and P-content around 4%), but for this, process adjustments and/or additional technical steps were required. 

The three tested processes were successful in achieving the production of marketable phosphoric acid from SSA.

The technical differences between these three processes, in terms of leaching acid used and of process steps to remove impurities (precipitation steps, membranes, ion exchange and solvent extraction), led to the production of different by-products and residues. The quality of the by-products produced in the pilot scale tests (gypsum, Fe-/ Al-salt solutions, road salt) were compared with standard market products and roughly assessed to be recyclable in existing value chains.

Also, the EuPhoRe process, in which sewage sludge is incinerated in a specifically designed kiln with magnesium chloride added to remove (by vaporisation) part of the heavy metals and to improve plant availability of the phosphorus in the ash, was tested with construction of a demonstration scale pilot plant (up to 100 kg/h input dewatered sludge, c. 25% DM) at EGLV’s Dinslaken sewage works (see SCOPE Newsletter n°129). Results (p.92 of Phos4You Technical Report) show cadmium, mercury and thallium below detection limits in the treated ash; arsenic < 25% of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation limit [PFC 1(C)(I)]; lead < 13 - 50% of this limit and nickel between 65 - 90% of this limit. Copper, at the tested temperatures (which were below the intended operation temperature), exceeding the EU Fertilising Products Regulation limits. Despite the low operating temperatures, the zinc limit could be achieved by increasing the dosing of magnesium chloride from 3% to 6%. Chromium VI values in the raw material and in the products were always below the detection limit. The analyses of the EuPhoRe-SSA produced with the demonstrator in Dinslaken showed solubility of total P content of 70 % to 90 % with 2 % citric acid and > 60 % with neutral ammonium citrate solubility (NAC), compared to the EU Fertilising Products Regulation specification of > 75% with NAC [Annex II, Part II, PFC1, 4(b)]. Ryegrass pot trials with the resulting ash showed significantly better growth with the ash compared to no P fertiliser (control) but significantly lower growth than with triple super phosphate (c. 1/3 lower biomass dry matter). The EuPhoRe product is considered to provide long-term, slow-release phosphate.

Lab-scale tests showed feasibility of bio-acidification of sewage sludge from sewage works using iron or aluminium salts for P-removal, followed by P-recovery by precipitation of calcium phosphate using Veolia Struvia technology (see SCOPE Newsletter n°141). The bio-acidification was achieved by endogenous bacteria with dosing only of sugar-rich organic by-products. 55% - 70% of total phosphorus in the sewage sludge was released as soluble phosphorus by bio-acidification upstream of sewage sludge digestion, with slightly higher release from iron phosphate than from aluminium phosphate sludge. Release from iron phosphate sludge (with the same sugar-rich organics dosing) was however considerably lower (only around 20%) for bio-acidification of digested sludge. Bio-acidification upstream of the anaerobic digester significantly increased methane production. The Veolia Struvia reactor, in the tests, was able to recover over 95% of the dissolved phosphorus from bio-acidification as calcium phosphate (hydroxyapatite). The recovered hydroxyapatite is considered to have low economic value, but very low operating costs. Struvite production was not adopted because of high operating costs and insufficient ammonia concentrations.

Other technologies tested at laboratory scale were mineral acid-leaching of phosphorus from (wet) sewage sludge, microalgae bioreactor for treating sewage, Veolia Struvia (hydroxyapatite precipitation) for tertiary P-removal and alkali-activated crab carapace as a phosphorus adsorbent (with Veolia Filtraflo). Summary in SCOPE Newsletter n°141).

The final report also includes assessment of possible value chains and business models, with scenarios for Switzerland (see ESPP eNews n°61). The Netherlands and Germany (Emscher – Lippe region EGLV), a GIS tool, recommendations for EU decision makers

Phos4You Interreg project Final Report (184 pages) and Technical Report (326 pages), edited by Lippeverband water board, Germany, 09/2021 and 12/2021 www.nweurope.eu/phos4you See also summaries in SCOPE Newsletter n°141 (Phos4You final conference)

 

Science summary on plant phosphorus and use efficiency

The conclusions of the EU Horizon2020 CropBooster-P project give an overview of knowledge and perspectives on crop Phosphorus Use Efficiency. It is underlined that around one third of cultivated soils worldwide have insufficient available phosphorus for optimal plant growth. Knowledge of root architecture, soil biome and plant hormonal phosphorus signalling are summarised. It is noted that addition of mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) to plants (e.g. by inoculation, soil application or seed coating) has shown to be effective in improving plant P uptake in laboratory conditions, but that field experiments have shown little benefits, because the bacterial populations cannot be controlled. The practical, agronomic value of understanding plant P signalling and transport mechanisms is not clear, but may provide routes to early-stage detection of P deficiency. The authors note that work on crop selection should aim not only to increase P uptake, but also to improve overall P utilisation, so increase of harvestable material or of seed P content. Work on plant traits also needs to be combined with referenced soil P analysis (Olsen P is indicated). Development of progressive-release fertilisers and of fertilisers with improved phosphorus plant uptake is recommended. The project report also includes a summary on improving nitrogen uptake and use efficiency.

CropBooster-P, EU Horizon 2020, Deliverable 4.2, November 23rd 2021 “White Paper and Scientific Basis of the Strategic Research Agenda”, https://www.cropbooster-p.eu/

 

Phosphorus levels in Organic and conventional food products

The BfR MEAL study Germany analysed 356 food products and found similar phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and calcium (Ca) levels between Organic and non-Organic (conventional) products. Significant differences showed for olives: lower Ca, maybe due to calcium chloride additive used in non-Organic, higher K, maybe in sea salt used for Organic olives and higher P, attributed by the authors (surprisingly) to higher fertiliser use for Organic olives. Higher phosphorus was also found in certain categories of Organic cereal products, suggested to be because of inclusion of seeds and not only cereals in the Organic products (ESPP note: this would be expected because of phytate content of seeds, but the P in phytate is only partly assimilable by humans). P, K and Ca levels were also similar for foods purchased in different regions of Germany and at different times of the year. The authors conclude that dietary differences in mineral intake would therefore result principally from choice of different categories of food.

“Results of the BfR MEAL Study: The food type has a stronger impact on calcium, potassium and phosphorus levels than factors such as seasonality, regionality and type of production”, K. Schwerbel et al., Food Chemistry: X 13 (2022) 100221 DOI.

 

Elevated CO2 increases soil P mineralisation but decreases plant-available P

Tests with wheat showed that high atmospheric (eCO2) increased crop biomass growth, accelerated mineralisation of organic P with increased soil microbial activity, resulting in reduced plant available P, due to plant – microbe competition for P (Jin 2022). The tests were carried out in laboratory growth chambers, with 0.12 x 0.2m area rhizoboxes enabling physical separation of the root growth and rhizosphere compartments (but movement of water, nutrients), with CO2 at 800 vs. 400 ppm, organic phosphorus added (phytate, 70 mgP.kg soil), in two soils from Victoria, Australia (Chromosol = strong texture difference between surface and subsoil, Vertosol = high in clay) and carbon labelling. Elevated CO2 (eCO2) resulted in increased carbon in soil (+60%), transferred by the wheat plants. Mineralisation (conversion to inorganic forms of P) of the phytate (organic P) increased 9% in the Chromosol and 45% in the Vertosol respectively and microbial respiration rate increased significantly in the rhizosphere of both soils. Bacterial species richness increased. The increased mineralisation of organic P was considered to be related to an increased genetic pool of bacteria for glycolysis and for the pentose phosphate pathway, linked to synthesis of nucleotides and ATP. Abundance of the soil bacteria phyla Bacteriodetes and Gemmatimonadetes increased, associated with phytate mineralisation. eCO2 led to statistically significant reductions in plant available soil P (Olsen-P) and also reduced plant available N. This was considered to be the result of competition between soil microbes and plants for nutrients (indicated by increased microbial C:P ratio). The results of these tests confirm and provide additional insights to the 8-year Free Air CO2 Enrichment (SoilFACE) experiments reported in Jin 2020 which showed, under eCO2, increased presence of oligotrophs in the bacterial community and increased mineralisation of soil organic P in surface soils.

“Elevated atmospheric CO2 alters the microbial community composition and metabolic potential to mineralize organic phosphorus in the rhizosphere of wheat”, J. Jian et al., Microbiome (2022) 10:12, DOI.

“Long-term CO2 enrichment alters the diversity and function of the microbial community in soils with high organic carbon”, J. Jian et al., Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Volume 144, May 2020, 107780 DOI.

 

Climate variation likely to increase soil phosphorus losses (bis)

Drought – flood abrupt alternation (DFAA) conditions were simulated in field trials, Anhui plain, China, under summer maize, showing reduced plant P storage and increased soil P losses. Using this data in modelling suggested a six-times increase in P losses possible with future climate change. Fifteen field plots of 5.5 x 3.7 m, separated by baffles 1.2m deep, were used for the tests, near Bengbu, 500 km NW of Shanghai. The DFAA test plots were sheltered and subject to artificial rainfall only. DFAA was considered to be dry soil conditions followed within 5 days by rainfall, with testing of three degrees of dryness and rainfall. The plots with DFAA showed nearly 50% lower P-storage in the crop than natural (control) conditions and soil phosphorus losses from 2% to 9%. Modelling suggested that climate change (IPCC RCP 4.5 scenario) could lead to a nearly six-fold increase in soil P loss. This study confirms similar conclusions from laboratory tests carried out in the UK (S. Khan et al. 2021, see ESPP eNews n°62).

“Soil phosphorus loss increases under drought-flood abrupt alternation in summer maize planting area”, W. Bi et al., Agricultural Water Management 262 (2022) 107426 DOI.

 

Misleading research

 

Erroneous research paper on phosphates in food

An author from Plymouth University, UK, who published an erroneous paper on food phosphates in 2013 has offended again, with a new paper whose conclusions are based on errors, biological misunderstanding and failure to verify data sources. This 2022 paper contains some limited but interesting primary data, but then draws misleading and false conclusions.

The primary data contained in the 2022 paper are the results of a Google Survey, with a smallish sample of 184 useable responses (unbalanced: 142 female, 34 male). The online questionnaire asked people what they would eat on a typical day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks, and if known to specify “brands and amounts”. Respondents were asked to classify themselves as meat eaters (83), flexitarians (58), vegetarians (31) and vegans (12). Responses were then combined with the UK Government 2019 food database to estimate daily dietary phosphorus intake. These calculations suggest that meat eaters and flexitarians (meat-flex) have a diet P intake of c. 1.3 gP/day, whereas vegetarians and vegans (veg-veg) have a lower intake (0.8 – 1.0 gP/day). Differences between meat eaters and flexitarians were not statistically significant, nor between vegetarians and vegans, but the difference comparing the groups meat-flex and veg-veg was significant. As indicated in the paper, this result is contrary to the hypotheses of Forber et al. 2020 (see ESPP eNews n°51 and discussion in Metson et al. ESPP eNews n°4). Forber’s estimates assumed the same protein intake for vegetarians as meat-eaters, whereas in this 2022 paper veg-veg respondents suggested a lower protein intake than meat-flex. In ESPP’s opinion, this interesting result merits further investigation with a larger sample..

However, the paper then draws erroneous conclusions based on various assumptions, unverified secondary data and a significant scientific error concerning phosphorus metabolism.

The paper suggests total average diet P intake of 1.1 – 1.7 gP/day, by multiplying the calculated intakes (based on respondents’ answers) by +32% to compensate for the under-declaration of food consumption which is known to generally occur in food questionnaires. This is reasonable, but it is also possible that the degree of under-declaration may be different for veg-veg than meat-flex respondents, as the former may have a more attentive attitude to diet. A higher proportion of the veg-veg respondents are female which may also modify attitudes*. These potential sources of result bias are not considered.

It is stated concerning diet P intake that “Food containing additives also comprises 70% more P than those without”. The reference given is Winger 2012. But in fact, Winger (secondary source) quotes this number from the abstract of Benini O. et al. J Renal Nutrition 21(4), 2011 (primary source). The original data in Benini actually shows P (total) 57% higher in 60 samples of processed meats (30 with and 30 without P food additives). This would imply a 57% higher diet P intake for persons eating only processed meat (for breakfast lunch and tea) and no other foodstuffs, so potentially much less of a difference in a diet including some processed meat along with unprocessed meat, cereals, vegetables, beverages, etc.

It is indicated that the daily minimum requirement of phosphorus in diet is 0.55 gP/day. P excreted from the body (to sewage) is then calculated as the dietary intake (based on the respondents’ calculation) minus 0.55 gP – that is, the paper assumes that 0.55 gP/day is accumulated in the body (ignoring losses in sweat, hair growth, skin cell shedding … which are negligible). This is of course balderdash. If it was true, then at my age I would have accumulated 12 kg of P in my body, that is 70 kg of calcium phosphate (the material of bones), that is more than 100% of my weight (more than two-and-a-half times my body dry weight). This does not seem to have led the authors to question their conclusions. In reality, the daily excretion of P well known to be approximately the same as the daily intake, with a small net accumulation during childhood. This error leads to considerably overestimate the differences between P excretion to sewage from meat-flex compared to veg-veg (calculated from the results, adjusted), and so leads to misleading conclusions as to a hypothetical reduction in sewage phosphorus levels in case of dietary change.

The paper calculates the reduction in sewage P levels claimed to result from a change of diet by comparing the (erroneous) estimated change in body P excretion (wrongly calculated as indicated above, and based on responses of < 50 veg-veg respondents) to an estimate for total P in UK raw sewage (wwtp influent). This estimate is referenced p.6 to a study by the same author (ref. 44, Comber 2021), which in fact seems to include only wwtp effluent data. In fact, the primary data is probably from UKWIR CIP2 2015-2020 monitoring (cited as ref. 40, p. 5) which show mean P in influent sewage of 8.36 mg/lP-TOTAL (44 UK wwtps). This estimate of the proportion of P in sewage coming from diet involves other errors, for example: part of the P coming from the population does not reach sewage works (households on septic tanks, pipe leakage …). Overall, the authors conclude that “current diets contribute 45% of the P load to UK wwtps”. This number is unrealistically low, coherent with the incorrect assumption that a half to a third of diet P is retained in the body and does not reach sewage. In 2017, the UK Environment Agency indicated 60% of P in UK sewage from diet, and the % will have increased as phosphates have been banned in household dishwasher detergents since 2017. The authors do not ask themselves the question that if only 45% of P in sewage were to come from human diet, where does the rest come from?

The author, S. Comber, Plymouth University signed in 2013 an erroneous paper in the same peer reviewed journal (Environmental Technology, Taylor & Francis), see SCOPE Newsletter n°103. This 2013 paper estimated the quantities of P from food phosphate additives in the UK diet, with a conclusion which would have meant that half of total EU food phosphate production was consumed in the UK. This result did not lead the author to question the conclusions. The UK Environment Agency on the other hand considered the conclusions as “unrealistic”. This error resulted from the same methodological fault as one of the errors of the new 2022 paper: the use of secondary data without going back to the primary source. In the 2013 paper, data from a (dubiously reliable and incorrectly cited) thesis were used, these data having been incorrectly taken from a 1993 UK Government publication. This non-verified use of secondary data led to confuse grammes of phosphorus with grammes of “food phosphate”, an error of factor at > 4x.

The paper abstract also suggests that more P in sewage “causes eutrophication”. This is misleading, in that increasing P influent to sewage works will often not increase P discharge, because P-removal is operated to discharge consent level (there will be some increase in P reaching the environment in storm overflows, households not connected to mains sewerage).

* ESPP note: please do not take this as discriminatory, but only as a possible hypothesis.
“The impact of diet on wastewater treatment works phosphorus loading”, C. Down, S. Comber, Environmental Technology 2022 https://doi.org/10.1080/09593330.2022.2027029

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Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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ESPP 2021 summary

Phosphorus events
Legacy Soil Phosphorus webinar: Wednesday 2nd February, 14h - 17h CET
Recovered phosphates for animal feed
ESPC4 programme published: 20-22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online
PERM5 - the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting
Phosphates 2022

Supply challenges

EU regulatory
BAT BREF update process launched for Inorganic Chemicals
Input to EU Fertilising Products Regulation: by-products, recovered minerals

ESPP new member
REFLOW

Nutrient recycling
Micronutrients recovered from alkaline batteries as Organic Certified fertiliser
EasyMining moves forward nutrient recovery

Webinars
IFA – FAO: Nutrient recovery and sustainable plant nutrition
Implementation of the Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy

Research
Possible P4 synthesis by electrolysis
Climate variability likely to increase soil phosphorus losses
Scientific testing of options for P-leaching from ashes
Overview of sewage sludge regulations in Europe

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

ESPP 2021 summary

ESPP wishes our readers all the best for 2022, whatever it may bring. We summarise below our main actions in 2021 and perspectives for 2022. More information is in past issues of eNews and our SCOPE Newsletter on our website.

In 2021, ESPP continued active input to the EU Fertilising Products Regulation FPR 2019/1009, which will enter into implementation in July 2022. After some delays, the criteria were published for recycled struvite and precipitated phosphates (2021/2086), use of ashes in fertiliser production (2021/2087), and biochars / pyrolysis materials (2021/2088). Proposals are now underway to also cover nitrogen salts recovered by ammonia stripping from digestates, phosphogypsum and certain by-products (see below). Work is engaged to cover post-processing of digestates and composts. The FAQ continues to be extended (Frequently Asked Questions document, providing implementation and interpretation guidance).

ESPP is also working on authorisation of use of recovered nutrients in Organic Farming (see FIBL in ESPP eNews n°60).

2021 also saw significant developments towards implementation of nutrient recovery, with a number of companies progressing pilot and full-scale installations. These are summarised in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies (update underway, input welcome).

2021 saw publication by JRC of the MSA (System Analysis) for P4 (white phosphorus and derivates), based on the workshop on P4 co-organised by the European Commission and ESPP in 2020 (SCOPE Newsletter n°136). Both phosphate rock (i.e. phosphorus in fertilisers and food) and the specific material P4 (essential for a range of chemicals) are EU Critical Raw Materials.

In the context of the EU Algae Initiative, ESPP organised a webinar to explore regulatory questions concerning algae grown using waste inputs (e.g. grown in wastewater, or using off-gas CO2 …), and with EABA and Eureau, has formally put resulting questions to the European Commission.

ESPP also organised a working webinar on regulatory obstacles to recycling manure to fertilisers, and will pursue this further with the European Commission and EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) in 2022.

ESPP organised the 4th PERM5 Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, with over 370 participants online (see SCOPE Newsletter n°141).

In 2022, the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference: ESPC4 Vienna 20-21 June 2022 will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127). Programme with many confirmed speakers to date is online here and registration is open. and will be followed by the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, PERM5 Vienna, 22 June 2022. Both events will be ‘hybrid’, with networking tools enabling dialogue between online participants and those meeting in Vienna throughout the duration of the conferences. We look forward to seeing you there! https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

ESPP will continue our action on sustainable nutrient use on farm, with a webinar on relationships between draw-down of “Legacy P”, crop yield and P losses, on webinar 2nd February 2022, 13h – 17h CET, www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

2022 will also see implementation of the important decisions taken by ESPP’s General Assembly 2021 (webinar and email vote): recruitment of a second staff in Brussels and widening of ESPP’s action (currently all aspects of phosphorus sustainability) to cover recovery and recycling of nitrogen and other elements.

 

Phosphorus events

 

Legacy Soil Phosphorus webinar: Wednesday 2nd February, 14h - 17h CET

This ESPP webinar, co-organised with BOKU, will look at relationships between draw-down of “Legacy P” in soil, crop yield and P losses. Full programme is online here. The webinar will address: what do we mean by “Legacy P”, impacts of drawing down Legacy P on crop yields and on soil phosphorus (long-term field trials) and Legacy P or draw-down impact losses to surface waters. Confirmed speakers are from The Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Russia, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Canada, Brazil and New Zealand. Panellists are leading agronomists and environmental experts from research centres and from the fertilisers industry.

This ESPP webinar follows on from the SPA (US) webinar “A Legacy of Phosphorus”, 30th September 2021, and from the Frontiers in Earth Science special on ‘Legacy Phosphorus’ summarised in ESPP eNews n°56.

Programme and registration (free): www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

 

Recovered phosphates for animal feed

Webinar 3rd February 13h - 14h30 CET. Results of trials of recovered phosphates as animal feed, quality and sustainability, regulatory barriers. With EasyMining, Gelsenwasser, SLU, Lanmännen, ESPP.

LINK: https://www.easymining.se/projects/feed-phosphate/webinar3febr/

 

 

espc4 enews 58 2ESPC4 programme published:
20-22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4


The detailed programme of the
4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4)
is now published.

Confirmed speakers include Virginijus Sinkevičius European Commissioner for Environment; Sibylla Hardmeier, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (BAFU); Andrea Roskosch, German Federal Environment Agency (UBA); Franz Josef Radermacher, Research Institute for Applied Knowledge Processing (FAWn), Germany; Mahesh Pradhan, United Nations Environment; Wenfeng Liu, China Agricultural University …

ESPC4 (20-21 June 2022, Vienna and hybrid) will be the first major phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

The published programme includes pre-selected speakers for the six ESPC4 parallel sessions:
- Nutrient recovery technologies operational showcase
- Nutrient recovery technologies in development
- Phosphorus recovery from ashes
- Biochars and hydrothermal carbonisation
- Regional nutrient policies and actions
- New and bio-based fertilisers
ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies, currently being updated (see below).

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

PERM5 - the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting:

22 June 2022, Vienna, Austria

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022, making the link between R&D, industry and policy (summary of PERM4, June 2021, 370 participants, in SCOPE Newsletter n°141).

Sessions proposed include: nutrient recovery in the dairy industry, iron and phosphorus interactions, new fertilisers and biostimulants to improve crop nutrient uptake, Farm-to-Fork Zero Pollution: reducing P losses from agriculture, nature based solutions, decentralised sanitation / separative urine systems, nutrient flow studies …

A call for abstracts for PERM is open, deadline for submission 27th February.

ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both in Vienna and online.

Updated outline programmes of ESPC4 and PERM5 https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Phosphates 2022

cru Phosphates 2022 27 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida. Programme now online. This is “the” phosphate industry professional conference, with over 400 participants. Phosphates 2022 will be in-person (with an online option), and a major chance to re-connect with the phosphate industry, from mining through rock and acid processing, to fertilisers, feed phosphates and technical phosphates. The two-day conference will have a dual agenda: commercial - market – regulatory, and technical and industry operational. 10% discount for ESPP members: request the code from ESPP.

CRU Phosphates 2022: https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

 

Supply challenges

fao food price indexNitrogen fertilisers and P4 (white phosphorus) currently face interlinked global supply challenges, with links to global food price increases.

The FAO’s Food Price Index hit a ten-year high in 2021 and was 23% higher in December 2021 than one year earlier (after falling 1% between November and December 2021.

BBC coverage suggested that causes include climate change, leading to bad harvests, shortages of migrant workers, shipping problems due to Covid and deregulation of futures markets. Rabobank expects food prices to remain high in 2022, because of increasing prices of fertilisers and energy, shipping and labour shortages, continuing adverse weather (climate change, La Niña) and a strong US dollar.

Nitrogen fertiliser prices are closely linked to natural gas prices, and natural gas prices have increased considerably recently, as a result of various factors including geopolitics, climate, supply and demand policies (see e.g. this US analysis). The N fertiliser price is being exacerbated by export bans or limitations from China and Russia.

A study by Texas A&M University shows, for July 2021, N fertilisers at their highest price ever, and both P and K at their highest price since the 2008 price spike (but P still nearly 40% lower than this peak).

Despite high prices, fertiliser demand is expected to continue to increase in 2022 (according to CRU, organisers of the “Phosphates” industry conferences), with an expected rise of +2.9% from 2021 to 2022, following from the +1.2% rise 2020 to 2021.

Trade of phosphorus fertilisers is being impacted by the US decision to impose tariffs of 9% to 47% on some P imports, and then China’s decision to freeze phosphate exports from September 2021 to (at least) June 2022.

The specific market for P4 (white phosphorus) and its derivates is also being impacted by the energy squeeze and by political factors. Although P4 represents only 2-3% of world phosphate rock consumption, it is irreplaceable for the production of many specialist phosphorus chemicals needed by a very wide range of high-value societal end-uses, including electronics, batteries, fire safety, industrial water treatment, technical plastics, pharmaceuticals, lubricants, metal treatment, … (see ESPP’s SCOPE Newsletter n°136, produced jointly with the European Commission JRC). P4 is therefore itself specifically identified as an EU Critical Raw Material (in addition to “Phosphate Rock”), see COM(2020)474. P4 is traded as such, but also importantly as “derivates” (that is intermediate chemicals such as PMIDA, POCl3, PCl5, see SCOPE referred above).

The EU has no production of P4 and so is totally dependent on imports of either P4 or of P4-derivates for essential user industries. Europe imports P4/derivates essentially from China, Kazakhstan and Vietnam (not in order of importance). In 2021, China considerably reduced its exports of P4/derivates, mainly because of nearly total stoppage of China’s P4 production capacity in order to energy consumption in particular in Yunnan province (a key phosphate region). Production has now partly resumed. Kazakhstan’s P4 / derivates production or export have also been impacted by current political unrest in the country and specifically in the Zyambyl Oblast region where P4 production is located (see here). These specific pressures on P4/derivates supply are additional to considerable price and supply pressures similar to those on fertilisers indicated above: rising electricity prices and demand, and shipping costs.

ESPP suggests that this context should provide increased impetus and urgency to develop phosphorus and nitrogen recovery and recycling in Europe. Nitrogen recovery from digestates offers synergy with development of bio-methane production, which can reduce EU dependency on imported natural gas. Industrial development and implementation of P4 production from secondary materials (sewage sludge incineration ash, meat and bone meal ash) could largely resolve Europe’s current import dependency for P4/derivatives.

No market-ready P4 production technology from waste is available at the moment. However, several promising developments are in a piloting stage. ESPP member Italmatch are involved in the EU-funded FlashPhos project to test P4 recovery from wastes at a pilot scale (15 million € budget). Other technologies are also proposed and are being tested on small scale.

EU regulatory

 

BAT BREF update process launched for Inorganic Chemicals

The European Commission (JRC) has started the update process for the BAT (Best Available Techniques) reference document for “Large Volume Inorganic Chemicals” (LVIC), which will cover all chemicals currently covered by the two BATs: LVIC Ammonia, Acids and Fertilisers (LVIC-AAF) and LVIC Solids and Others (LVIC-S). The first phase of consultation aims to define the scope of the BAT update, in particular to identify the most polluting sectors, key environmental issues (e.g. in terms of emissions to air and water, use of raw material, water and energy, generation of waste, circular economy, decarbonisation aspects) and new/emerging techniques or improvements in techniques which should be considered, compared to the two existing BAT BREF documents. The aim is to streamline the BAT BREF document by focussing on the BAT conclusions (and associated techniques). The BAT conclusions are legally constraining, and are mandatory applicable to all plants and production sites in the relevant chemical and fertiliser industries above the specified application thresholds. ESPP has not been a candidate for the Technical Working Group for this BAT BREF process (insufficient resources, scope much wider than ESPP’s competence) but will follow the process as a member of the IED Forum (Industrial Emissions Directive).

Existing BAT BREFs for LVIC Ammonia, Acids and Fertilisers (LVIC-AAF) and LVIC Solids and Others (LVIC-S).

European Commission (JRC) contact for further information on the LVIC BAT update process:

 

 

Input to EU Fertilising Products Regulation: by-products, recovered minerals

ESPP submitted input to the EU public consultations on criteria for use under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) of by-products and of recovered minerals.

These criteria will authorise the use in FPR EU-label fertilisers of nitrogen salts from offgas cleaning and ammonia stripping, under specified conditions. ESPP strongly welcomes this but considers that where nitrogen salts are recovered from manure storage, manure processing (e.g. digestate) or animal stables, pathogen data is needed to prove sanitary safety and an Animal By-Product End Point should be defined.

ESPP also welcomes that the inclusion of phosphogypsum and of e.g. struvite recovered from treatment of discharge from phosphogypsum waste stacks.

We regret however that CMC11 and CMC15 as proposed are limited to high-purity inorganic salts and do not cover organic by-products

ESPP also made detailed input concerning wording, such as whether the wording “substance and mixture” includes plant materials, whether processes using wastes as inputs are included and the meaning of the word “recovered”.

ESPP’s input to the public consultation, as well as various preparatory documents (including the JRC reports) are available at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory.

 

 

 

ESPP new member

 

REFLOW

reflow logo newsREFLOW is an interdisciplinary cross-sectoral European Training Network addressing the recovery of phosphorous from dairy processing waste water and its recycling into fertiliser products. REFLOW brings together scientists, key stakeholders and early-stage researchers in dairy processing, phosphorous recycling and fertiliser production. The network will address both technical and socio-economic challenges associated with the P-recovery and recycling in the dairy sector, so enabling sustainable expansion of the dairy industry in Europe.

In coherence with the Circular Economy Package, REFLOW research aims to (i) mitigate the environmental impact of dairy processing waste on soil and water, (ii) provide safe environmentally sustainable, cost-effective closed loop solutions for crop nutrient management and (iii) meet the demand for skilled professionals to support the technical, regulatory and commercial development of the market for recycled phosphorous fertiliser products.

REFLOW will achieve these goals by creating an innovative and entrepreneurial training environment. Thirteen young researchers will be recruited in a network of 24 organisations who bring complementary expertise and experience of delivering technical solutions, socio-economic modelling, environmental analysis, policy frameworks, training and commercial entrepreneurship. The young researchers will develop interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral skills for careers as independent industrial or academic researchers, entrepreneurs, regulators or agri-environmental specialists. REFLOW’s network-wide training activities include industrial secondments and commercially driven research projects.

Reflow European Training Network https://etn-reflow.eu/

 

 

Nutrient recycling

 

Micronutrients recovered from alkaline batteries as Organic Certified fertiliser

TraceGrow, Finland, are recovering manganese, zinc and copper from alkaline batteries and reclaimed copper to produce a high-purity foliar or soil micronutrient fertiliser, approved for Organic Farming in the EU. 50% of the world’s soils are deficient in zinc and 10% in manganese. These micronutrients are recovered from end-of-life consumer alkaline batteries by crushing, acid leaching then purification to generate soluble sulphates, plus copper recovered from end-of-life electronics and electrical parts. 15 batteries produce one litre of micronutrient fertiliser (4.1% Zn, 4.4% Mn, 1.9% Cu, 6.1% S, plus c. 1% K, 1% Na). TraceGrow has 35 million l/y production capacity, under expansion to 5 Ml/y. The fertiliser shows field trial results from twelve countries on barley, wheat, maize, potato, grass, citrus fruit. Manganese can be particularly effective in improving winter crop resistance to cold, and copper is important for grain yields in oats and barley. The product illustrates the need to continue to extend the CMC annexes of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009, in that it is not covered by current CMCs nor by the proposed new CMC15 “Recovered High Purity Materials” (published for public consultation to 14th January 2022): this proposal includes high purity sulphates, but only from a “production process” (EU Commission JRC’s 3rd preparatory report specifies line 2823 excludes “Materials obtained from the recycling facilities for waste materials”).

TraceGow “ZM-Grow”: https://www.tracegrow.com/zm-grow

 

EasyMining moves forward nutrient recovery

ESPP member, EasyMining (part of the Ragn-Sells Group) has announced a first full-scale Ash2Phos plant to recover phosphorus from sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA) and has started testing of a pilot installation to recover nitrogen from wastewaters.

The Ash2Phos plant is a joint venture, signed with Gelsenwasser AG, one of Germany’s largest utility companies operating mainly in the Ruhr, Muensterland, lower Rhein and Eastern Westphalia regions.  Construction of a 30 000 t-ash/year plant will start in 2022 in Chemieparks Schkopau, near Leipzig. The Ash2Phos process leaches phosphorus out of ash using hydrochloric acid, then separates iron, aluminium and heavy metals by a series of dissolution and precipitation steps, resulting in a clean calcium phosphate product of animal food quality. A second 30 000 t-ash/y plant is under permitting at Helsingborg, Sweden, with Kemira. For further details see the ESPP-NNP-DPP Nutrient Recycling Technology Catalogue.

A webinar on 3rd February, 13h00 - 14h30 CET will discuss results of digestibility tests for calcium phosphates recovered from sewage sludge incineration ash, quality constraints and regulatory obstacles.

easy mining newsEasyMining have also inaugurated the first pilot for a nitrogen recovery process, at Högbytorp, near Stockholm, in the EU LIFE funded project “Re-Fertilize”. Ammonia in wastewater is adsorbed to a specific mineral, then released and recovered, to produce clean ammonium sulphate. This can replace ammonia synthesised using natural gas, for fertiliser production. The adsorption chemical is regenerated and reused. The aim is also to replace current nitrogen removal processes in wastewater treatment (nitrification of ammonia to nitrate, then denitrification), which consumer electricity for aeration (nitrification) and carbon sources (e.g. methanol) for denitrification, and which release greenhouse nitrogen gases to the atmosphere. The pilot, designed and constructed by EasyMining with COWI and ENERCO, can treat c. 100 m3 of inflow per day, under continuous operation. It is now treating landfill leachate at Ragn-Sells Högbytorp site, Sweden, and will then be moved to BIOFOS´s Lynetten municipal wastewater treatment works in Denmark. The resulting ammonium sulphate fertiliser will be trialled by the Lantmännen, one of Northern Europe’s largest agricultural cooperatives.

“Gelsenwasser and EasyMining announce joint venture in Germany”, EasyMining 14th December 2021

“Unique pilot plant for nitrogen removal and recovery opens”, EasyMining, 9th December 2021

EU LIFE Re-Fertilize project

Webinar on recovered feed phosphates, 3rd February 13h00 – 14h30 CET LINK.

 

 

Webinars

IFA – FAO: Nutrient recovery and sustainable plant nutrition

The IFA - FAO webinar of 15th December 2021, 300 participants online, saw nutrient circularity as important for sustainability and showed a range of nutrient recycling technologies. IFA and FAO have also signed an agreement to promote sustainable fertiliser use.

Jiangyuan Xia, FAO Director of Plant Production and Protection, indicated that FAO believes that innovation can enable more sustainable plant nutrition management. This is pressing with the current energy crisis driving up fertiliser prices. FAO supports this with the International Code of Conduct for the Sustainable Use and Management of Fertilizers (2019, see ESPP eNews n°45).

Achim Dobermann, IFA Chief Scientist (International Fertilizer Association), indicated that only around 20% of nitrogen input into agriculture reaches consumed food and underlined the need to move towards full-chain nutrient efficiency for nitrogen, phosphorus and micronutrients.

Hannah Van Zanten, Wageningen University Research, compared land surface required to produce food for different food systems. Under today’s food system, animal production has a significantly higher environmental impact and land use than vegetable crop production. However, a circular food system producing healthy food can be even more efficient if food wastes are used to feed animals. In such a system, around 1/3 of human protein needs could be produced by livestock, and such a circular system with livestock could have a lower land requirement than for a vegan diet. Recycling of manure and animal by-products are essential. For further information see website and Van Selm et al. Nature Food 2022 DOI.

Hannah Lohman, University of Illinois & Community Integrated Development Initiatives, Uganda, discussed the potential for separative urine collection with nutrient recycling to fertiliser in Kampala, Uganda, either by simple storage of the urine to ensure sanitisation, or nutrient recovery by struvite precipitation and ion-exchange nitrogen recovery. Both routes could potentially be economically viable, depending on nutrient market prices. A challenge could be pharmaceuticals in the urine.

Céline Vaneeckhaute, Laval University Canada, presented the advances and limitations, as well as experimental work on various nutrient recovery technologies including struvite precipitation, HAIX ion exchange (see SCOPE Newsletter n°141), nitrogen recovery by stripping and citric acid absorption, and development of technology integration and optimisation models.

Dan Froehlich, Anuvia Plant Nutrients, presented the company’s SymTRX granulated organo-mineral fertiliser, based on organic secondary materials processed to provide a matrix with +ve and -ve sites onto which mineral nutrients can be fixed. After 5 years development and over 450 field trials, production capacity is today 1.1 million tonnes / year at Plant City, Florida. Organic wastes which can be input include crop wastes, animal wastes, food processing wastes and waste-water organics. Less than 5% of the nutrients of the final product come from the organic wastes, most are added as minerals, depending on the input materials.

Christian Kabbe, EasyMining, outlined the company’s processes today operational to recover purified nutrients from ashes: phosphorus from sewage sludge incineration ash, potassium from municipal solid refuse incineration ash. EasyMining are also now developing a process to recover nitrogen minerals from wastewater or manure.

Thomas Mannheim, Ductor, outlined the company’s integrated approach to nutrient recycling and renewable energy production from manure, aiming to avoid the considerable nitrogen losses (and consequent atmospheric pollution and greenhouse gas) which generally occur in manure storage and field application (can be up to 70%). In the Ductor process, nitrogen rich manures can be used as feedstock for biogas production (e.g. 100% chicken litter), because most of the nitrogen is removed upstream of the anaerobic digestion (biogas) process. The removed nitrogen is recovered as liquid nitrogen fertiliser. The solid fraction of the separated digestate is dried and pelletised as organic NPK fertilizers, and the liquid phase is recirculated to dilute the input material. This results in reduced GHG emissions and enhanced nutrient use by converting untreated manure to bioenergy and to balanced nutrient products which can be stored and transported and are adapted to farmers’ needs.

Achim Dobermann concluded that many technologies are increasingly available for nutrient recycling, and their implementation will improve sustainability of plant nutrition. The fertiliser industry is innovating with new types of products alongside mineral fertilisers and the use of secondary nutrient sources in fertiliser production. This will necessitate decentralisation to enable local recycling, adapted to local structures and agri-food systems, in particular in developing countries.

IFA – FAO webinar, 15th December 2021, “Advancing nutrient recycling and recovery in agriculture” (Sustainable Plant Nutrition series): full recording and IFA webinars page.

Upcoming IFA events HERE:
- 29-31 March 2022, Global Sustainability Conference, online
- 30 May - 1st June 2022, Annual Conference, Vienna, Austria
- 28-30 June 2022, Smart & Green, online

 

Implementation of the Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy

The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region together with the Ministry of the Environment of Finland co-organized a webinar on the implementation of the Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy on Monday 22 November 2021.

The purpose of the webinar was to present some topical issues and points of view in nutrient recycling, take stock of the present situation in nutrient recycling and also to look ahead and discuss opportunities and challenges in implementing the Nutrient Recycling Strategy in the Baltic Sea Region.

The webinar gathered c. 120 participants representing national authorities, businesses, research organisations and NGOs from different countries across the Baltic Sea.

The morning session consisted of five presentations from experts across public and private sectors. In her opening words, Tarja Haaranen, Ministry of the Environment, Finland, reminded that although the main goal of the strategy is to protect waters and the Baltic Sea, the actions will also have other beneficial impacts, among them impact on climate change mitigation.

In her introduction to the Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy, Lotta Ruokanen, HELCOM, focused on the policy background, vision and objectives of the strategy.

Isidro Campos Rodriguez, European Commission DG Agriculture and Rural Development, gave an overview of nutrient recycling in the European Green Deal’s Farm to Fork programme, the Common Agricultural Policy, and beyond, and presented some links between these and the nutrient recycling strategy.

Ana-Lucia Crişan, European Commission DG GROW, presented the EU fertilising products regulation and discussed the harmonisation rules for fertilising products and gave an overview the quality assurance system works for fertiliser manufacturers.

Anders Finnson, Swedish Water, focused on the experiences in nutrient recycling in the wastewater sector in Sweden. He presented the ambition to transform the current wastewater treatment system into resource recovery plants.

Christian Kabbe, EasyMining (Ragn-Sells Group), focused on the business opportunities and obstacles of nutrient recovery and recycling. Some of the clear drivers, or opportunities that he mentioned were the existing quality requirements to minimize pollution and the need to reduce import dependencies. Some of the obstacles he mentioned were the discrimination of materials by origin and not by quality and the fragmentation of regulation.

In the afternoon session, six experts took part in a panel discussion on the present situation in nutrient recycling and took a look ahead and discussed opportunities and challenges in implementing the HELCOM Nutrient Recycling Strategy focusing on creating business opportunities and improving policy coherence.

The panel included representatives of national authorities, businesses and NGOs from different countries of the Baltic Sea Region: Andrea Roskosch (German Federal Environment Agency), Marja-Liisa Tapio-Biström (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland), Zigmas Medingis (Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania), Eetu Virtanen (Soilfood), Marc Buttmann (TerraNova Energy GmbH), and Gunnar Norén (Coalition Clean Baltic).

Article by Anna Hernberg, Ministry of the Environment, Finland – with thanks!

Webinar website –summary and slides: HERE

 

 

Research

 

Possible P4 synthesis by electrolysis

Lab-scale tests suggest feasibility of P4 production by electrolysis of molten metaphosphates (from phosphoric acid), potentially with energy and carbon consumption magnitudes lower than the current “thermal” route (electrothermal reducing furnaces). A 60 cm diameter, 2.8m height laboratory electrolysis reactor, operating at c. 800°C, and 2.4V current, was tested with steady-state electrolysis runs of a few minutes. Challenges are design and construction of an electrolysis cell reactor for operation at this temperature, sealings and recovery of the P4 produced. The principle is electrolysis of molten sodium metaphosphate [NaPO3]n – a commodity inorganic phosphate produced from “wet acid” route phosphoric acid. Sodium metaphosphates is an intrinsic oxide acceptor (because of phosphoryl anhydride linkages) so absorbing electrons to break down to NA3PO4 and O2. The NA3PO4 can then be cycled back to sodium metaphosphate by reaction with phosphoric acid. In the test reactor, the graphite anode was consumed, producing CO2, but unlike in a reducing P4 furnace, this CO2 is isolated from and cannot react with P4, so avoiding resulting energy loss. Additionally, the electrolysis reactor does not require sand (silicon dioxide) as an oxide acceptor, so does not lose heat energy in production of metasilicate slag (c. 30% of energy consumption in a P4 reducing furnace). The melting point of sodium metaphosphates (628°C) is considerably lower than the operating temperature of P4 reducing furnaces (c. 1 500 °C). To avoid CO2 reacting with P4, thermal P4 furnaces currently only partially reduce coke to carbon monoxide, which is burned off, so using only two of the four potential reducing electron equivalents of the coke carbon. The authors conclude that anhydride promoted electroreduction of molten metaphosphates could in the future provide an electron, energy and climate efficient alternative to electrothermal reducing furnaces for P4 production.

“Efficient Electrosynthesis of White Phosphorus from Molten Condensed Phosphate Salts”, J. Melville et al., ChemRxiv. Cambridge 2021, LINK.

 

 

 

 

Climate variability likely to increase soil phosphorus losses

Laboratory soil tests showed that simulated flooding caused P release in all soil samples, accentuated if the soil was previously dried, suggesting that climatic variations between drought and flooding could increase P losses. 168 soil samples of 150g (dry weight equivalent) were collected over 7 days from two different sites in North Wyke, Devon, UK (stagni-vertic cambisol, dystric cambisol), both under grazed grassland. 31 day laboratory tests were carried out in 500 ml bottles. Flooding was simulated by adding water to maintain 10 cm water depth in the mesocosm. Drying was for 10 days at 40°C. Flooding of soils significantly reduced redox potential, more so and more rapidly in previously dried soils. Similarly, flooding increased soil pH, more so and more rapidly in previously dried soils. Flooding increased dissolved phosphorus (DRP dissolved reactive P, DUP dissolve unreactive P and TDP total dissolved P), again with greater increases of all forms in flooding of previously dried soils. Analysis suggests this is related to reductive dissolution of iron and manganese phosphate minerals in the soils, and also non-reductive dissolution of aluminium phosphate minerals. The soil with higher organic matter and biomass phosphorus released higher concentrations of DUP. The authors conclude that as climate change leads to flooding, and to variations between drought and flooding, P release from soils will increase, especially in soils high in biomass.

“Effects of drying and simulated flooding on soil phosphorus dynamics from two contrasting UK grassland soils”, S. Khan et al., Eur J Soil Sci. 2021;1–12, DOI

 

Scientific testing of options for P-leaching from ashes

Three papers present detailed and systematic experimental comparisons of phosphorus and of heavy metal leaching from ashes of various biowastes, considering different incineration temperatures, and comparing different extractants. These publications provide a wealth of data on phosphorus and heavy metal release from ashes under different conditions and related to analysis of the ash mineralogy.

Fourteen extractants were tested (2020, 1): three mineral acids (sulphuric, hydrochloric, nitric), five organic acids, sodium hydroxide (alkali) and five chelating agents, comparing different extractant concentrations, ash/extractant ratios and contact times. For sewage sludge incineration ash, oxalic acid offered the best compromise between effective phosphorus leaching and limited heavy metal release, but sulphuric acid was most cost-effective.

Comparing extraction from three different biowaste ashes (sewage sludge, poultry manure, meat and bone meal) (2021, 2), showed that P-leaching effectiveness of the organic acids varied considerably with different mineralogy of the three ashes, whereas leaching by the inorganic acids was consistent.

In a third paper (2021, 3), the influence of incineration temperature on mineralogy and P-leaching and heavy metal leaching was studied for ashes from a laboratory muffle furnace (note: the muffle furnace was chosen for reasons of consistency but may not be representative of conditions in real sewage sludge incinerators where conditions vary depending on the technology). The sewage sludge was sampled from the storage bunker at Leuven wwtp, Belgium (Aquafin), where sludge is collected from wwtps operating enhanced biological P-removal as well as dosing iron or aluminium for chemical P-removal. The muffle furnace was operated at 550°C – 1100°C, for two hours. In this case, higher furnace temperatures across the tested range tended to result in lower heavy metal leaching, but temperatures above 900°C also resulted in reduced P-release, probably because mineralogy shifted at higher temperatures (increase in non-identified amorphous phosphate, decreases in crystalline calcium phosphate and amorphous iron phosphate), and because P was fixed into silicate melt at 1100°C. The reduction in P-leaching above 900°C was significant for mineral acids and very considerable for organic acids. The authors conclude that 800°C – 850°C is the optimal temperature range to generate an ash from which phosphorus can be readily leached with limited release of heavy metals, which is similar to the EU Industrial Emissions Directive requirement of a minimum ensured temperature of 850°C for 2 seconds.

2020, 1: “Closing the phosphorus cycle: Multi-criteria techno-economic optimization of phosphorus extraction from wastewater treatment sludge ash”, L. Luyckx et al., Science of the Total Environment 713 (2020) 135543 DOI.

2021, 2: “Linking Phosphorus Extraction from Different Types of Biomass Incineration Ash to Ash Mineralogy, Ash Composition and Chemical Characteristics of Various Types of Extraction Liquids”, L. Luyckx et al., Waste and Biomass Valorization volume 12, pages 5235–5248 (2021) DOI.

2021, 3: “Recovery of phosphorus from sewage sludge ash: Influence of incineration temperature on ash mineralogy and related phosphorus and heavy metal extraction”, L. Luyckx et al., J. Environmental Chemical Engineering 9 (2021) 106471 DOI.

 

 

Overview of sewage sludge regulations in Europe

Summary of limits for contaminants in sewage sludge (used on farmland) across EU Member States and challenges for regulating pollutants in the current EU Sewage Sludge Directive update. The paper notes that many Member States have set limits for one or more contaminants (for sludge used on land) stricter than those in the current EU Sewage Sludge Directive 86/278, resulting in a highly fragmented legal framework. Indeed, in some Member States (e.g. Austria) limits are different in each region. In some cases, limits are defined as a function of regional average soil values. The varying limits for As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn are represented in visual graphics. 19 (of 27) Member States have fixed lower limits for mercury, 18 for cadmium, 16 for nickel, 14 for copper and lead and 10 for zinc. Additionally, 23 Member States have fixed limits for chromium, 8 for arsenic, and one or two also for molybdenum, selenium and beryllium, whereas none of these are regulated by EC 86/278. Twelve Member States have fixed limits for certain pathogens in sewage sludge applied to land (different limits, different pathogens), whereas these are not regulated by 86/278. Some Member States have also fixed limits for organic pollutants regulated by 86/278 which are lower than the limits in this Directive (DEHP, LAS, NP/NPE, PAH, PCB, PCDD/F). The paper highlights the need to also address emerging contaminants, in particular PFOS/PFOA (perfluorinated chemicals) and microplastics. PFOS/PFOA are already regulated in sewage sludge in Austria and Germany. Microplastics are difficult to regulate because of a lack of knowledge on their behaviour and impacts in soil and plants, the absence of agreed protocols for quantifying and characterising microplastics in soils, and because they are widely present in soils irrespective of sludge spreading, because of other sources. The authors note the need to combine safe sewage sludge management, avoiding environmental or health risks, with nutrient recycling.

“Land Application of Biosolids in Europe: Possibilities, Constraints and Future Perspectives”, A. Gianico et al., Water 2021, 13, 103 DOI

 

 

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Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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Events and calls for input
ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022
Phosphates 2022

EU consultations
Consultation on by-products and recovered minerals in EU fertilisers
Possible new materials for considerations for EU fertilisers
Labelling of fertilising products
Bathing Water Quality
Microplastics: EU call for evidence
Revision of pharmaceuticals legislation
Food “Nutrient Profiles”

ESPP new members
Sulzer Pumps
NORSØK (Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture)

EU policy
European Commission Work Programme
Stakeholder call on food chain safety and Circular Economy
Arcadis report on risks of contaminants in fertilisers
EFSA Opinion on (certain) Animal By-Products (ABPs) and EU-fertilising products

ESPP activities
Webinar: regulatory questions around manure recycling
ESPP input to EFSA on Circular Economy
Factsheets on recycling from wastewater: algae, minerals, fibres & polymers
European Commission answer on End-of-Waste for materials from wastewater
Algae grown in wastewater

Nutrient recycling
STOWA report on nitrogen recovery perspectives
Zero P fertilisation does not impact crop productivity in very high P soils
Manure, Nitrates Directive and surplus phosphorus
Literature data review: removal of contaminant metals in thermal sludge treatment
Scenarios for P-recycling in Switzerland

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

 

Events and calls for input

ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

espc4 enews 58 2The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022 (summary of PERM4, June 2021, online, coming soon here).

ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies, currently being updated (see below).

Deadline for submission of abstracts for ESPC4 is 31st December 2021.

ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both physical and accessible online.

Updated outline programmes of ESPC4 and PERM5, and a call for abstracts for presentations and posters for ESPC4 (open to 31st December 2021) are now online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

Phosphates 2022

cru Phosphates 2022 27 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida. Programme now online. This is “the” phosphate industry professional conference, with over 400 participants. Phosphates 2022 will be in-person (with an online option), and a major chance to re-connect with the phosphate industry, from mining through rock and acid processing, to fertilisers, feed phosphates and technical phosphates. The two-day conference will have a dual agenda: commercial - market – regulatory, and technical and industry operational.

10% registration discount for ESPP members. Request the code from ESPP

CRU Phosphates 2022:
https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

EU consultations

Consultation on by-products and recovered minerals in EU fertilisers

To 14th January 2022.Two EU public consultations are open on criteria for use under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation of by-products and of recovered minerals, including nitrogen salts from offgas cleaning and ammonia stripping.

This is the outcome of three years’ work between the European Commission, industry and stakeholders, with the aim of facilitating the circular economy by allowing use of by-products in fertilisers, whilst ensuring safety and avoiding possible contaminants. Fertilizers Europe published in 2019 an inventory of the many by-products today used in mineral fertiliser production.

ESPP strongly welcomes that CMC15 (2b) will enable inclusion in EU-fertilisers of recovered nitrogen salts from offgases, such as ammonium sulphate stripped and recovered from digestates. ESPP considers however that where nitrogen salts are recovered from ammonia from manure storage, manure processing (e.g. digestate) or animal stables, pathogen data is needed to prove sanitary safety and an Animal By-Product End Point should be defined.

ESPP also welcomes that CMC15 (2a) will enable inclusion of e.g. struvite recovered from treatment of discharge from phosphogypsum waste stacks.

We note however that CMC11 and CMC15 as proposed are limited to high-purity inorganic salts and do not cover organic by-products Some organic by-products are covered under existing CMCs (CMC2 mechanically processed plant materials, CMCS 3-5 composts and digestates, CMC6 certain listed food industry by-products, CMC 14 biochars). Others are not, such as from the pulp & paper industry, biofuels processing, etc. This is because little or no information was submitted on organic by-products by the organic fertiliser industry, resulting in organic materials not being considered.

ESPP’s proposed input to the public consultation, as well as various preparatory documents (including the JRC reports) are available at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory. Comments are welcome on the proposed ESPP input before the 14th January 2022 submission deadline, and any person or organisation can input directly to the public consultations (below).

Also on this page are ESPP input to the European Commission on the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions = Fertilising Products Regulation guidance document) and ESPP list of requests for additional new CMCs. Both these documents are ‘ongoing’ and are regularly updated, so comments are welcome.

Public consultation pages for CMCs 11 and 15, open to 15th January 2022
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/13113-Fertilisers-high-purity-materials-in-EU-fertilising-products_en
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/13111-Fertilisers-agronomic-efficiency-and-safety-criteria-for-by-products-in-EU-fertilising-products_en

Fertilising Products Regulation FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/46391

Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) initial regulatory text https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32019R1009 and adopted amendments: technical progress update 2021/1768 and STRUBIAS materials CMC12 (precipitated phosphates) 2021/2086, CMC13 (ash-derived) 2021/2087 and CMC14 (biochars/pyrolysis/gasification) 2021/2088 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32019R1009

ESPP regulatory activities page www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

Possible new materials for considerations for EU fertilisers

The European Commission is considering launching assessment of some further materials for possible inclusion into EU fertilising products (new, additional CMCs). ESPP has made input suggesting and documenting the following materials: derivates of mineral by-products (such as waste spent acids), potassium and other salts from (non CMC13) ashes, ammonium salts from fire extinguisher refurbishment, nitrogen recovery from liquid phase of wastewaters, algae and biomass grown using waste inputs (e.g. grown in wastewaters), fish excreta, seafood processing residues, insect frass, separately collected human urine or faeces, vivianite from sewage, paper and pulp industry residues, biofuel processing residues. Further comments and other proposals can be added to ESPP’s input: please download the current version here and send comments to ESPP.

ESPP regulatory activities page, see “ESPP proposals for additional new CMCs” under “New EU Fertilising Products Regulation” www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

Labelling of fertilising products

To 16th February 2022. The EU public consultation on digitalisation of labelling for chemical products includes an important section on what information should be provided for fertilising products, and how. The consultation is a general public questionnaire, open also to companies and other organisations, with 29 questions about how digital tools (e.g. QR code linked to online database) could provide information about certain products placed on the market: fertilising products, detergents, paints. General questions address what form of digital tool would be preferred and what level of information. Specific questions on fertilising products ask what information could be moved from the label to online: e.g. information on product function, nutrients content, organic carbon content, storage conditions, risk mitigation measures, low in cadmium, low in chloride, solubility of phosphorus, etc. These questions are posed for fertilisers, liming materials, soil improvers, growing media, inhibitors and biostimulants.

EU consultation “Revision of the EU general pharmaceuticals legislation”, open to 16th February 2022. Consultation.

 

 

Bathing Water Quality

To 20th January 2022. General public consultation questionnaire on knowledge of, information wished and public policy on bathing waters. Algae are cited as amongst potential concerns about bathing water (Q20) and agricultural run-off (faecal pollution, nutrient surplus, etc.), municipal waste water, eutrophication and proliferation of algae are cited as possible pressures affecting bathing water quality (Q36).

EU consultation “Revision of the EU general pharmaceuticals legislation”, open to 20th January 2022. Consultation.

 

Microplastics: EU call for evidence

To 18th January 2022. Call for evidence on microplastics unintentionally released into the environment, including capturing at source, and aiming to improve monitoring of microplastics in the environment, drinking water and food. The call for evidence reminds that the Green Deal fixes the objective to reduce microplastics by 30% by 2030. It emphasises release of microplastics by synthetic textile fibres and from vehicle tires and notes that microplastics will be addressed in the ongoing reviews of the Urban Waste Water Treatment and Sewage Sludge Directives, specifically microplastics in sewage sludge used on fields. Possible approaches proposed in the call for evidence (4 pages) include market incentives to reduce unintentional microplastics releases, knowledge and data gaps, harmonised measurement of microplastics, consumer information, Ecodesign for tires or textiles, capture via green infrastructure, technical solutions to capture microplastics on washing machines or driers, separation of microplastics from sewage sludge.

The call for evidence is a free text field (4000 characters) with the possibility to submit documents.

Call for evidence. “Microplastics pollution – measures to reduce its impact on the environment”. Open to 18th January 2022.

 

Revision of pharmaceuticals legislation

To 21st December 2021. This EU general public consultation questionnaire includes a question (Q13) on emerging environmental challenges from human pharmaceuticals, in which it is possible to add comments (at the end of the questionnaire, under “other”) on obstacles posed to nutrient recycling by pharmaceuticals in sewage.

EU consultation “Chemicals – simplification and digitalisation of labelling requirements”, open to 21st December 2021. Consultation.

 

Food “Nutrient Profiles”

To 7th March 2022. This general public consultation concerns consumer information about certain aspects of food only, aiming at healthier eating (energy value, fat, saturates, carbohydrates, sugars, protein, salt, fibre) and also addresses “eat by” dates, origin labelling and information on alcoholic drinks. Phosphorus and minerals such as calcium or magnesium are not addressed. This results from the definition of food “nutrient profiles” in Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods: “nutrient profiles … shall be established taking into account in particular: (a) the quantities of certain nutrients and other substances contained in the food, such as fat, saturated fatty acids, trans-fatty acids, sugars and salt/sodium”.

EU consultation “Facilitating healthier food choices – establishing nutrient profiles”, open to 7th March 2022. Consultation.

 

 

 

ESPP new members

 

Sulzer Pumps

New ESPP member, Sulzer Pumps, is a leader in fluid engineering, with products adapted for many sectors, including phosphate and fertiliser production, as well as water treatment. Sulzer engages on innovation and sustainability.

Sulze r is a global leader in fluid engineering. We specialize in pumping, agitation, mixing, separation and purification technologies for fluids of all types. Our customers benefit from our commitment to innovation, performance and quality and from our responsive network of 180 world-class manufacturing facilities and service centres across the globe. Sulzer has been headquartered in Winterthur, Switzerland, since 1834.

Sustainability is engrained in our corporate strategy and embedded in daily business. Starting in 2020, ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) is included in the personal objectives of all our Long-Term-Incentive eligible leaders, shining a spotlight on what our annual employee survey tells us is one of the main societal contributions our people expect from Sulzer.

As an expert in solutions for corrosive and abrasive liquids, or those with high gas content, Sulzer offers specialist pumps, agitators, mixers and compressors for the fertilizer industry. Our products are suitable for the production of phosphate, potash and NPK compound fertilizers as well as acids and industrial chemicals.

Sulzer’s extensive portfolio of solutions for pumping, mixing, grinding, aeration and separation processes covers all applications for industrial water treatment. Optimized solutions ensure that your installation provides sustainability and an excellent return on investment. Our water treatment technologies are used at the forefront of a wide range of water intensive industries, such as pulp and paper, food and beverage as well as mining, fertilizers and chemicals.

By joining ESPP, Sulzer Pumps will engage with like-minded organisations that are focussed on innovation and sustainability

www.sulzer.com

 

 

NORSØK (Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture)

NORSØK provides R&D support to Organic agriculture in Norway, including work on soil fertility, fertilisation, manure management and recycled fertilisers, in particular using residuals from the seafood industry.

The Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture (NORSØK) was established in 1986, as a private foundation and research institute to conduct research and development activities to support the development of Organic production in Norway. From 1996 to 2005 NORSØK was part of Bioforsk (which is now NIBIO). Today, 25 people work at NORSØK, located at Tingvoll better reference https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tingvoll , close to Trondheim in a region agriculturally dominated by dairy farming, but where aquaculture and fishery are much larger industries. NIBIO (formerly Bioforsk) also has a department at Tingvoll, and NORSØK and NIBIO collaborate closely. Soil fertility and the fertilisation of crop plants is a major research topic for Organic Farming, and since 2012, NORSØK is working on recycled fertilisers and soil improvers. We have tested struvite from Norwegian sewage, sediments from hydrolysed slaughter waste, and marble mining residues. More recently, several projects have been carried out with residual materials from marine industries. Fishbones are a rich source of N, Ca and P, and seaweed is a rapidly emerging industry which may complete fish residues in K, S, etc. NORSØK also works with animal farming systems and on management of animal manure e.g., manure storage gas emissions, soil organic matter dynamics and soil health. NORSØK (and NIBIO Tingvoll) are located on an Organic dairy farm, and soil characteristics, such as the P concentrations, are monitored since 1994. NORSØK has followed ESPP activities over several years, since we participated in the CORE Organic project “Improve P”, assessing how more recycled fertilisers could be applied in Organic agriculture. With several current projects on recycled fertilisers, it is now a time to become an ESPP member, says NORSØK director, Ms. Turid Strøm.

https://www.norsok.no/en/

 

EU policy

 

European Commission Work Programme

The Commission’s Work Programme for 2022 cites as priorities, within the Green Deal, water policy, zero pollution, arm-to fork and the circular economy. Listed regulatory initiatives already underway include: Revision (REFIT) of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, Revised lists of water pollutants (Zero Pollution Action Plan), Bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics, Restrictions on micro-plastics and their release in the environment, Development of “National Strategic Plans that deliver on the objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Green Deal”, Finalisation of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism.

European Commission Work Programme for 2022, 19th October 2021, COM(2021)645 HERE.

 

Stakeholder call on food chain safety and Circular Economy

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) is calling for stakeholders to identify emerging risks and vulnerabilities for the food chain and for animal feed related to the Circular Economy. This is within a two-year study underway 2021-2022. Stakeholders will be able to engage in this project through workshops and consultation, contribute to identifying issues, risks and knowledge gaps and possible policy needs. The study objectives include defining principles and make recommendations to ensure coherence between environment and human food and animal feed safety.

EFSA call for stakeholders (not dated) HERE.

EFSA workshop on ‘Food and Feed Safety Vulnerabilities in Circular Economy’, 29th October 2021: HERE.

 

Arcadis report on risks of contaminants in fertilisers

The EU has published a report on possible risks of cadmium, chromium, vanadium, mercury, diclofenac, PFAS, dioxins and fluoride in mineral, organic and recycled fertilisers, under EU or national regulation. The report was commissioned by DG Environment and aimed to assess all possible contaminants in fertilisers (mineral, organic, organo-mineral, but not covering liming materials, soil improvers, nor fertilising products not placed on the market, such as manure or sewage sludge).

The report estimates that P and N use in fertilisers in the EU fell by respectively -66% and -24% from 1980 to 2015, to 8.6 kgP/ha and 77 kgN/ha. Organic fertilisers are estimated at only around 5% of fertiliser nutrient markets.

After consideration of a range of contaminants, the eight indicated above were prioritised for assessment and the following findings and recommendations are presented:

No risks were identified for chromium, mercury or vanadium, based on levels found in some mineral fertilisers and/or maximum levels authorised under the Fertilising Products Regulation ‘STRUBIAS’ criteria for ashes (CMC13). However, for vanadium, the report indicates that the risk assessment scenario (worst case) would lead to a rapid accumulation in soils (x10 in 10 years).

Fluoride is considered “low risk”.  The report suggests that use of mineral fertilisers could lead to a doubling of soil fluorine levels by 100 years, with possible risks for grazing animals. No concern for human intake is identified.

Diclofenac is considered “low risk”. This is an organochlorine drug used as anti-inflammatory and pain-killer. Even assuming 1 – 10% transfer from sewage sludge to precipitated phosphates or biochars, “the contribution of recycled fertilisers to the total input of diclofenac to agriculture soil is likely to be negligible”. Monitoring of manure is however recommended (diclofenac is used in livestock, but calls have been made for it to be banned because its presence in carcasses is known to kill vultures).

For dioxins (PCDD/F), the EU Fertilising Products Regulation ‘STRUBIAS’ limit for ash used in production of ash-derived recovered fertilisers (CMC13) and for biochars (CMC14) was considered for risk assessment (20 ng WHO tox.eq. / kg dm). It is not taken into account that in the CMC13 criteria this limit applies to the raw ash, not to the fertilising product derived from it, which in many cases will be purified. Using this ‘worst case’ level, it is noted that the main source of PCDD/F is atmospheric deposition. Nonetheless possible risk is identified for humans via food. Therefore, it is recommended to reduce the 20 ng WHOtox.equiv. limit currently set by CMC13 and to apply this limit to all fertilisers, presumably meaning also ashes, ash derived fertilisers or biochars used under national fertilisers regulations.

For cadmium, the report states that calculations suggest a risk for soils after 100 years of application of mineral fertilisers with 60 mgCd/kgP2O5 (that is the limit currently fixed in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation) but no risk at 20 mgCd/kgP2O5. The report also suggests possible risk for humans from cadmium in food, in case of high intakes of vegetables. These results assume an annual application rate of 100 kgP2O5/ha/year, based on secondary data for fertiliser use in areas with low soil P, whereas it seems incoherent to consider that such a level would be applied for 100 years. The report underlines high levels of uncertainty, in particular concerning fate of cadmium in soils and transfer to crops, and wide regional variation depending on background soil cadmium levels. Also, it is noted that the report does not take into account the alternative leaching model of Smolders et al. (summarised in ESPP eNews n°27 2018) for which it is stated “It is highly recommended to take into account their findings to further finetune the above assessment, as the accumulation over time has likely been overestimated.”

For PFAS, an assessment was made based on a “hypothetical” 100 µg/kg dw of PFOA and of PFHxA in recovered fertilisers (e.g. precipitated phosphates or ash-derived). This number was taken from Austrian fertiliser regulations (0.1 mg/kg limit for PFOA + PFHxA) and not on any data. It is noted that the main sources to the environment are sewage sludge biosolids, composts, irrigation water and atmospheric deposition, not recycled fertilisers (even with this hypothetical level). The report therefore recommends to “remove PFAS as completely as possible from fertilising materials”. ESPP supports this and suggests that the best way to achieve this is to implement the proposed PFAS ban announced in the EU Chemical Strategy 2020 and in the Commission working document SWD(2020)249.

The report also considers pyrazoles (in particular 3-methylpyrazole) which are used as nitrification inhibitors in nitrogen fertilisers, concluding that there may be possible risk from 3-M to soil organisms, related to the substance’s slow degradation in soil, and that further data collection should be made.

DG Environment has underlined that this report is not a “risk assessment” for fertilisers, nor for the eight substances assessed, but rather a screening exercise, intended to identify for which contaminants and for which uses further data collection and risk assessment should be carried out, prior to possible action under REACH (European Chemicals Regulation) to possibly ban or limit levels of these substances, if appropriate, in all fertilisers in Europe (both EU and national fertilisers).

“Contaminants in fertilisers: Assessment of the risks from their presence and socio-economic impacts of a possible restriction under REACH”, ARCADIS, Arcadia, Vander Straeten, DHI, for the European Commission DG Environment, Final Report under contract 070201/2019/817112/SER/ENV.B2, July 2021 https://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/reach/pdf/20210726-FInal%20report-V2c.pdf

This follows on from the strongly criticised “AMEC” report on contaminants in composts and digestates published by DG Environment in 2019, see www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews041

 

EFSA Opinion on (certain) Animal By-Products (ABPs) and EU-fertilising products

This is supposed to be the first step towards including in the European Fertilising Products Regulation a number of ABP Derived Products which are already widely used across Europe. However, the EFSA document (111 pages) does not seem, in ESPP’s view, to be positive for some materials; and other materials are still not yet addressed.

ESPP underlines that today the materials considered in this EFSA Opinion are already “widely used in the EU as fertilisers and soil improvers”. This is stated in the FPR art. 46(1)). The difference between current use (under national fertilisers regulations), and possible use under the EU FPR, is that at present the materials are authorised for use but only with “traceability” (products containing such ABP Derived Products sold under national fertiliser legislation must be distributed with a system of traceability for the ABP Derived Products). If authorised as EU fertilising products, the materials would be free to move on the EU market with no traceability

FPR implementation and the EFSA Opinion

To enable use of ABP Derived Products in EU-fertilisers, Council and Parliament specified in art. 46 of the FPR (modifying art. 5 of the ABP Regulation 1069/2009) that before 15th January 2020, the European Commission should “initiate a first assessment” of certain listed ABP Derived Products (see table below). Three and a half months after this deadline, on 30th April 2020, DG SANTE transmitted to EFSA an initial mandate 2020-0088 requesting a scientific Opinion on these listed materials. However, following modifications to this mandate made by DG SANTE, the EFSA Opinion in fact only covers some, and not all, of the listed materials (see table below).

The EFSA Opinion was adopted 20th October 2021 and published December 2021.

In order for the ABP Derived Products concerned by this Opinion to be used in EU-fertilisers and placed on the market without restrictions from the ABP Regulation, DG SANTE must now prepare and enact amendments to the ABP Regulation 1069/2009 defining an appropriate “End-Point” (for use as an EU fertilising product) for each material.

EFSA has underlined to ESPP that EFSA did not conduct a risk assessment of the use of these materials as fertilisers, and that the EFSA document does not constitute an opinion on the “safety” of these materials used as fertilisers. Indeed, the European Commission DG SANTE mandate to EFSA requested a scientific opinion on whether certain specified treatment processes for certain materials would reduce (by specified levels) certain types of pathogens. The EFSA Opinion states that “as a result of the … request from the European Commission the output … was not a full risk assessment, but consisted of the estimation of the level of inactivation / reduction of concentration of biological hazards …”. Thus, the EFSA Opinion indicates only with what % certainty the experts consider that the processes already specified in the ABP Regulation annexes, for each material, are able to reduce selected indicator microorganisms to a certain level. For example, for “Pig Bristles”, EFSA concludes that it is only 33% - 66% likely that heating for 5 minutes at 100°C will achieve the specified reduction of the most resistant of the indicator microorganisms considered (the experts are 50% - 95% certain if 100°c is applied for 60 minutes).

ESPP notes that these conclusions raise questions given that the materials concerned are today widely used in national fertilising products across Europe, and have been for many years.

Regulatory wording:

Animal By-Products themselves, that is without treatment or processing, cannot be included into EU fertilising Products, only Derived Products (by FPR recital (18) and wording of CMC10).

A “Derived Product” is defined in the Animal By-Products Regulation 1069/2009 art.3.2 as a product obtained from an ABP by any process or treatment.

Art. 46 of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR), modifying art. 5 of the ABP Regulation 1069/2009, states that for “Derived Products” referred in articles 32, 35 and 36 (of 1069/2009), an “End-Point” may be determined (by European Commission DG SANTE decision, i.e. a delegated act modifying Regulation 1069/2009). The End-Point should be such that the Derived Products “no longer pose significant risk” and are no longer subject to ABP Regulation controls. Derived Products having reached the End Point may be placed on the market without restrictions and are no longer subject to ABP  Regulation controls.

It is ESPP’s view that together, art. 36 of 1069/2009 (“other” Derived Products), with art. 46 of the FPR, effectively mean that any ABP Derived Product (from Cat. 1, 2 or 3 ABPs) could in the future be included into EU fertilising products, subject to defining an End-Point (processing and materials criteria) which ensures safe sourcing and/or safe treatment as defined in 1069/2009 arts. 27 and 38.

This published EFSA Opinion, however, addresses only Cat.2 and 3 ABPs and Derived Products because this was requested by DG SANTE and corresponds to the “first assessment” specified in FPR art. 46.4.

ESPP notes that art. 46 of the FPR instructs the Commission to assess Derived Products “referred to” in art. 32 of the ABP Regulation 1069/2009 (this article is confusingly titled “Organic fertilisers and soil improvers”, but in fact also covers inorganic materials such as ashes). The EFSA Opinion however addresses ABPs/Derived products “used as organic fertilisers and/or soil improvers”.

EFSA conclusions (simplified summary by ESPP)

Composts and digestates, where manure (and/or other Cat. 3 or Cat. 2 ABPs) are inputs, and also (discards of) pet food, feed and dog chews, were not assessed by EFSA, following modification of the mandate by DG SANTE. This is despite their being listed in art. 46(1)4 of the FPR Regulation.

For ashes, the EFSA Opinion indicates 99-100% certainty that the specified processes ensure the specified levels of pathogen reduction for Cat.2 and Cat.3 ABPs. EFSA indicates that Cat.1 ABPs were excluded from the assessment, and the pathogens considered by EFSA do not include prions.

For the other ABP materials assessed by EFSA the level of scientific certainty is lower, ranging from 1% - 33% to 98% - 100%, for different materials and for different microorganisms.

What next?

Given the slow progress on this dossier, ESPP fears that it today looks unlikely that any Animal By-Product Derived Products will be eligible for inclusion in or processing into EU fertilising products when the FPR enters into application in July 2022, even for those materials explicitly cited by in art. 46(1) of the FPR (c.f. CMC10), even for the materials covered in the ESFA Opinion for which the conclusion seems positive, and even for materials which are today widely used under national fertilisers regulations, and have been for many years.

For certain other materials which were not specified in the FPR art. 46(1), it may be appropriate that either the European Commission and/or industry should now request an Opinion from EFSA, to enable progress towards inclusion into the FPR and/or to ensure farmer and consumer confidence in safety:  biochars / pyrolysis materials (with manure or other ABPs as inputs), nitrogen salts recovered from offgases of manure storage, manure processing or livestock stables, Cat.1 ABP ashes.

EFSA Opinion of 30th October 2021 “Inactivation of indicator microorganisms and biological hazards by standard and/or alternative processing methods in Category 2 and 3 animal by-products and derived products to be used as organic fertilisers and/or soil improvers” https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/6932 and https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2021.6932


Animal By-Products Derived Products: these cannot be “used” under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009
unless and until an End-Point is added to the ABP Regulation 1069/2009
:

Material

Cited in FPR art. 46(1)

Relevant CMC

Conclusions
of EFSA Opinion 20/10/21 *

Meat meal

YES

ABP Derived Products as specified in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation CMC10.

 

CMC10 is currently an “empty box” pending the inclusion of ABP materials to be defined.

Not addressed

Bone meal

YES

Not addressed

Meat and bone meal

YES

Not addressed

Hydrolysed Cat.3 proteins

YES

Not addressed

Processed manure

YES

Not addressed

Feather meal

YES

Not addressed

Glycerine and other materials from production of biofuels and renewable fuels
(for the specific processes considered)

YES

90% - 100% for Cat.2
66% - 99% for Cat.3

Petfood, feed and dog chews

YES

Not addressed

Blood

YES

Not addressed

Hides and skins **

YES

10% – 66%

Pig bristles ** (after treatment for 5 / 60 minutes)

YES

33% - 66% / 50% - 95%

Hoofs and horns **

YES

66% - 95%

Feathers and down **

 

66% - 90%

Wool and hair **

YES

1% - 50%

Bird and bat guano

YES

Not addressed

Precipitated phosphates [and derivates] from manure and/or ABPs

No

CMC12

 

Biochar / pyrolysis materials [and derivates] from manure and/or ABPs

No

CMC14

 

Cats. 2 & 3 ABP incineration ash [and derivates]

No

CMC13

99% – 100%

Cat. 1 ABP incineration ash [and derivates]

No

Currently excluded from FPR CMC13

 

Compost

YES

CMC3

Not addressed

Digestate

YES

CMC5

Nitrogen recovered from manure processing offgas or from livestock stable offgas

No

Proposed in CMC15

 

 * the % indicated is the degree of scientific certainty that, for the material, the specified processes will achieve the required reduction of levels of the most resistant of the specified pathogens. When multiple processes for the same material have been assessed, the % range covers the lowest and the highest % for any of these.

 ** art. 46(1)4 refers to “derived products from blood of animals, hides and skins, hoof and hors, guano of bats and birds, wool and hair feather and downs, and pig bristles”. EFSA has however indicated that DG SANTE did not request an assessment of ‘derived products’ from these materials, but only of the materials themselves. See discussion above

 

ESPP activities

 

Webinar: regulatory questions around manure recycling

This ESPP event attracted over 500 participants online (nearly 700 registrations). ESPP’s slides, providing a number of reference information links, and the edited ‘Chat’ with added comments and answers to questions, are now published.  The webinar was an opportunity for discussion and asking questions, and the recording is made available to participants only, however the documents online (slides, edited ‘chat’) provide information about recycling into animal feed, EU Fertilising Products Regulation (status of manure, consequences of post-processing composts or digestates), pyrolysis./ biochar materials, ammonia recovery from manure, etc.

ESPP webinar on regulatory challenges around manure recycling, 24th November 2021: LINK.

 

ESPP input to EFSA on Circular Economy

ESPP has input to the European Food Safety Agency EFSA’s study into circularity and human food and animal feed safety. ESPP underlines the potential for nutrient recycling to the food chain, in fertilisers or animal feed, and the need to both ensure full safety (and public confidence in this safety) and at the same time address regulatory obstacles to nutrient recycling. ESPP suggests to establish an “EU food chain circular economy info point” to advise developers and producers of circular economy materials, who are often from outside the food and feed industry, and have difficulty understanding the specific regulations applicable in these sectors. ESPP suggests that the EFSA study should consider the circularity and safety issues of recycled materials in fertilisers and processing of secondary materials before use in fertilisers, feed or foods: extraction of specific substances from secondary materials, use of waste streams to feed algae or microbial protein production, chemical re-processing of wastes to mineral nutrients. A detailed annex to the letter lists a number of regulatory obstacles identified at present to nutrient recycling which are relevant to EFSA.

ESPP letter to EFSA 10_12_2021 on ESPP’s “regulatory” web page www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

EFSA call (open) for stakeholder input (information, engagement …) on “Food and feed safety vulnerabilities in a circular economy” HERE

 

Factsheets on recycling from wastewater: algae, minerals, fibres & polymers

Eureau, with support from a group of stakeholders including ESPP, has published three factsheets outlining the need for EU End-of-Waste criteria and the market potential for materials which can be recovered from wastewater: algae biomass, fibres polymers and other organics, mineral chemicals. The three fact sheets cover non-fertiliser applications, in that the process for obtaining EU End-of-Waste status for fertiliser uses is the EU Fertilising Products Regulation. The fact sheets aim to show EU regulators why End-of-Waste criteria are needed for these materials, and the potential markets which could be unlocked, and more widely to foster dialogue on resource recovery from wastewater. After consultation by LEAF of over 100 stakeholders, the fact sheets estimate that up to 210 000 t/y (DM) algae could be produced using wastewater nutrients, 100 000 t/y of cellulose and bioplastics could be recovered/produced, and 65 000 tP/y and 75 000 tN/y in recovered mineral salt chemicals.

Eureau – resources – news “Valuing our recyclable materials”, 1st December 2021

 

European Commission answer on End-of-Waste for materials from wastewater

The European Commission has answered a Parliamentary Question by MEP Jan Huitema on recycling from wastewaters, suggesting future mandatory recycling content requirements and Green Public Purchasing.: Mr Huitema’s question asked whether the Commission would prioritise materials recovered from sewage for the definition of EU End-of-Waste Criteria (see ESPP eNews n°59) and what actions were envisaged to bolster the market for recycled materials  The answer from the European Commissioner for the Environment, Virginijus Sinkevičius, reminds that EU End-of-Waste criteria are provided for precipitated phosphates (CMC12), ash-derived materials (CMC13) and gas-recovered nitrogen salts (CMC15 pending) under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation. He indicates that streams prioritised for definition of EU End-of-Waste criteria will be defined by end 2021 (ESPP note: the Commission suggested however at the stakeholder workshop of 14-15 September that probably only one material would be looked at in 2022, out of all possible waste streams). Mr Sinkevičius also states that, under the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Commission will “enhance the role of standardisation, … develop mandatory recycled content requirements and facilitate the uptake of products containing recycled content through mandatory green public procurement rules”.

Jan Huitema, European Parliamentary Questions, 2 September 2021 (E-004040/2021) and answer from Virginijus Sinkevičius HERE.

 

Algae grown in wastewater

ESPP, Eureau and EABA letter have wet a formal letter to the European Commission asking for clarification of the regulatory status of algae and biomass grown in wastewater, or using other secondary material inputs. Such algae production uses ‘waste’ as an input, but it is unclear whether the resulting biomass itself a ‘waste’? Is End-of-Waste status relevant? Consequently, can materials extracted from such waste-fed biomass be used under CMC1 of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation ? Production of algae or other biomass can be highly effective in treatment of and nutrient removal from wastewaters, or in treating offgases, enabling valorisation of secondary nutrients and trapping of carbon dioxide.

ESPP – Eurea – EABA letter 17_11_2021 at ESPP regulatory activities page www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

Nutrient recycling

 

STOWA report on nitrogen recovery perspectives

Long-term, most sewage works influent N could be recovered, covering half of mineral fertiliser N use. Short term, stripping from sewage sludge digestate could represent one fifth of this potential (10% of fertiliser use). The long-term refers to a scenario with redesign of sewage works as circular water centres. The report by STOWA, the Netherlands water boards’ joint research foundation, is based on a survey and interviews: 9 replies to 30 questionnaires sent to nitrogen industry operators, interviews of experts and companies. STOWA estimate sewage in the Netherlands (influent to the water boards’ treatment works) contains around 84 ktN, of which at present 66% is emitted to air, 15% to effluent and 19% remains in sewage sludge. The report analyses four N-recovery technologies based on:

  • Stripping of ammonia from sewage sludge digestate (centrate) and recovery of ammonium salts (scrubbing): AMFER, GMB BioEnergie, Detricon, Nijhuis, Yara, Circular Values BV, Eawag. Operating at industrial or pilot stage.
  • Membrane stripping (use of a gas-permeable membrane to improve the stripping as above, ammonium salts or ammonia solution can be recovered): Powerstep (Eawag, Artemis, Sustec). Operating at full-scale pilot stage.
  • Bipolar membrane electrodialysis (similar to membrane stripping, but with combination with electrodialysis improves ammonia separation): TU Delft, Newbies (W&F, Wetsus, ICRA, Evides). R&D pilot stage only.
  • Ion exchange (adsorption of ammonia from solution by an ion exchange resin or using zeolite, then regeneration to recover an acidic solution of ammonium salts): SVB Sluisjesdick, Necovery, Waterfabriek. R&D pilot stage only.

The report identifies challenges to N-recovery from sewage, in particular possible contaminants in the recovered product, logistics and marketing of recovered product, legislative obstacles (waste status of recovered N, need for authorisation as a fertiliser under national and/or EU Fertilising Products Regulation) and cost, but considers that increasing natural gas prices could make recovered N increasingly competitive compared to Haber-Bosch N (synthetic mineral N fertilisers). However, there are opportunities in the Netherlands water boards’ objective of “full circularity” by 2050 and the advantages of N-recovery in reducing N2O emissions in the sewage plant and avoiding CO2 emissions in production of synthetic N fertiliser.

“Stikstofterugwinning uit rioolwater; van marktambitie naar praktijk” (Nitrogen recovery from sewage; from market ambition to practice), STOWA report 2021-35 (12th October 2021, 104 pages, in Dutch) https://www.stowa.nl/publicaties/stikstofterugwinning-uit-rioolwater-van-marktambitie-naar-praktijk

 

 

Zero P fertilisation does not impact crop productivity in very high P soils

Different crops were tested with zero P fertiliser in Flanders at sites with very high initial soil P. No loss in crop yield was seen after four years compared to organic plus mineral fertiliser applied to local limits. Trial plots were at 2 sites, on a total of 14 ha. Initial soil P was 380 – 470 P-AL (ammonium lactate extractable), PSD (Phosphorus Saturation Degree) 29 – 34. Zero P-fertilisation reduced the field P balance, but had no measurable effect on soil phosphorus stocks after four years: soil P-AL dropped slightly in both P-fertilised and zero P-fertiliser plots, whereas PSD increased slightly or was unchanged, again with P-fertilisation making no apparent difference. Soil organic carbon levels also showed no changes related to the fertilisation regime. Unsurprisingly, given the absence of impact on soil P levels and the initial high soil P, crop yields were also non significantly modified by the four years of zero P fertilisation. The authors note that ryegrass, silage maize, celeriac and Chinese cabbage removed more P than other crops tested (potato, leek, fennel, lettuce, endive). This study shows that if soil P levels are high, then crop yields can be maintained for several years without P-fertiliser application. The study does not indicate how the soil P levels at the test sites compare agronomic soil P index recommendations.

“Soil phosphorus (P) mining in agriculture – Impacts on P availability, crop yields and soil organic carbon stocks”, S. Vandermoere et al., Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 322 (2021) 107660 DOI.

 

 

Manure, Nitrates Directive and surplus phosphorus

Based on pig and poultry numbers and feed data, application of manure to Nitrates Directive N-limits can result in P inputs many times higher than estimated crop offtake, and so, depending on soil P status, P-losses to surface waters. Pig meat is the largest source of animal protein in Europe, with nearly 250 million pigs slaughtered annually. Europe also slaughtered 7 000 million poultry (broilers) and counted nearly 370 million egg-laying hens. The authors present data on pig and poultry livestock numbers and P/N ratios in manure, topsoil phosphorus levels across Europe. Because poultry and pigs are monogastric (like humans), they cannot digestate phytate, the principal form in which phosphorus is stored in plants, P/N ratios in manure generally lead to surplus P application, even where manure application is limited under the EU Nitrates Directive (170 kgN/ha from manure and processed manure). The authors note that phosphorus storage can result in loss of up to half of manure nitrogen, as ammonia or nitrogen gases, so leading to N/P ratios down to around 2. Excess P applied to soil in manure may initially accumulate in soil, leading to increased soil P levels. P losses to surface waters will depend on manure application and manure N/P ratios, but also on crop offtake and on soil P status. The authors conclude that measures are needed to improve livestock P and N use efficiency, to improve manure management, to reduce N losses to the atmosphere and reduce soil P accumulation and P losses to surface waters. Such measures can include manure acidification, ammonia stripping/recovery, drying and pelletising and P-removal/recovery.

“Phosphorus Flows, Surpluses, and N/P Agronomic Balancing When Using Manure from Pig and Poultry Farms”, A. Rosemarin, N. Ekane & K. Andersson, Agronomy 2021, 11, 2228 DOI.

 

 

Literature data review: removal of contaminant metals in thermal sludge treatment

Data from 37 publications is analysed on how heavy metal vaporisation (and so removal) during sewage sludge incineration is impacted by different chlorine additives, temperature, treatment conditions and type of sludge. Chlorine donors used in the identified studies are magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium, aluminium and iron chloride, hydrochloric acid and PVC. Process temperatures ranged from 300°C to 1200°C, residence time from 1.5 to 1400 minutes, combustion conditions from incineration to pyrolysis and input material from wet sewage sludge to sludge incineration ash. Consequently, heavy metal removal rates varied very widely, from 0 – 99% for cadmium, 10 – 99% for lead, 0 – 80% for copper and zinc, 0- 75% for chromium, 0 – 60% for nickel and arsenic. Higher temperatures, above 800°C – 900°C, generally achieved high levels of removal of cadmium, lead and copper, but lower removal of zinc, arsenic, chromium and nickel. Nickel and chromium show as particularly difficult to remove by vaporisation. The wide variation of removal rates shows the potential for improving  heavy metal removal by specifically adapting pyrolysis or incineration process design and management, and the paper provides a useful source of overview data and references.

“Trace metal elements vaporization and phosphorus recovery during sewage sludge thermochemical treatment – A review”, B. Galey, M. Gautier, et al., J. Hazardous Materials 424 (2022) 127360 DOI.

 

Scenarios for P-recycling in Switzerland

A study, with Cantons and operators of North West Switzerland, of options for P-recovery from sewage suggest decisions are difficult to take today because of lack of agreement on cost-sharing between operators.

The study, led by FHNW within the Phos4You Interreg project, from 2019 to 2021, considered the four Cantons around Basel, Argovia and Solothurn, population 1.5 million (17% of Swiss population). Currently, the four Cantons produce c. 43 000 tDM/y sewage sludge, of which c. 63% goes to sewage sludge (mono)incineration plants, 25% to cement works and 12% to municipal refuse incinerators. The region has spare disposal capacity and imports sludge from other regions (the region currently disposes of 38% of total Swiss sewage sludge). Over the coming 10-15 years, all the sludge incineration plants of the four Cantons are expected to be decommissioned, so providing the opportunity to either build new mono-incineration capacity or other technologies, and to integrate the P-recovery system into the new plants, depending on the scenario chosen.

A number of scenarios were considered based on nine technologies:

  • P-recovery from sewage sludge (mono)incineration ash (SSIA) by acid attack and purification: EcoPhos (now Prayon)*, Parforce*, Phos4Life**, REALphos. The ash could either be treated in Switzerland or exported to an operator elsewhere in Europe.
  • Mixed incineration of sewage sludge and meat and bone meal, then reaction with phosphoric or other acid, resulting in dilution of contaminants and increased plant P availability: ZAB/Phos4Green (Glatt)**.
  • Modified incineration processes where specific reactor conditions and additives remove some heavy metals and improve the plant availability of the P in the resulting ash. EuPhoRe**, Pyrophos,
  • Enhanced struvite recovery from the sewage sludge (i.e. after biological or chemical processing to release P) then incineration of the P-depleted sludge in (existing) cement works: PhosForce**, Stuttgart.
  • “Wait and see”, where current sludge disposal routes are continued and investment decisions are postponed (2026 is deadline fixed by the Swiss P-recovery obligation) in order to have better information and avoid risks resulting from being first movers.

The six main operators in sewage sludge disposal today (ARA Rhein, ProRheno, Erzo, STRAG, ZAR/ KEBAG, Geocycle/Holcim) and the four Cantons participated in workshops and validated the conclusions.

The information available today resulted in variations for most criteria assessed between technology suppliers for the same scenario. No scenario performs overall “better” than the others, preference depends on different operators’ relative weighting of criteria for cost, environmental performance, future robustness and disposal safety. Challenges identified include lack of full-scale operating experience to support estimates of technology investment and operating costs, need for reliable long-term contracts with technology suppliers especially if ash is exported for treatment outside Switzerland, difficulty to reliably recover sufficient phosphorus for technologies aiming to recover from sludge given that the recovery target in Switzerland may be raised in the future from 50% to 75% (rather than recovery after mono-incineration), difficulty to obtain meat and bone meal ash for technologies planning to use this input in their process (to achieve Swiss fertiliser requirements which are stricter than those of the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation).

The median total net additional cost for P-recovery (compared to sludge disposal without P-recovery) across the different scenarios and technologies is estimated at c. 110 CHF/t dewatered sludge, that is 1.4 €/year per inhabitant.

** and *: see ESPP-DPP-NNP Nutrient Recovery Technology Catalogue (** = TRL6+, * = R&D)

Summary of Swiss P-recovery obligation and Swiss quality requirements for recovered fertilisers: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Scope129

Ful report in German: https://pxch.ch/uploads/1/1/1/7/111701981/pnws.pdf

Inventory of Swiss incineration plants in German: https://pxch.ch/uploads/1/1/1/7/111701981/inventur_der_schweizer_kva_v2.pdf

Inventory of Swiss sludge drying plants in German: https://pxch.ch/uploads/1/1/1/7/111701981/inventar_kstrocknung.pdf

 

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Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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Events and calls for input
ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022
Phosphates 2022
Baltic Nutrient Recycling Strategy implementation webinar
Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies
Call for abstracts: “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils
Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022
Call for information on P flows and resources for EU Critical Raw Material assessment

EU consultations and tenders
EU public consultations open
EU tender on fertilising products technical documentation

Nutrient recycling
Recycled nutrients in Organic Farming
Updated overview of phosphorus recovery and/or recycling facilities
Swiss update report on P-recovery technologies
LCA and greenhouse gas benefits of recycled nitrogen
Pathogens in struvite from poultry manure digestate
Fertilisers from spent fire extinguisher power
P-fertiliser and lithium recovery from batteries
Sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA) shows limited P fertiliser efficiency
Potential for P-recovery from meat processing
Impacts of ferric on anaerobic digestion

Eutrophication and nutrient losses
Wisconsin’s nutrient pollution trading system
Climate change, eutrophication and algal toxins

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

Events and calls for input

 

ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

espc4 enews 58 2The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022 (summary of PERM4, June 2021, online, coming soon here).

ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies, currently being updated (see below).

ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both physical and accessible online.

Updated outline programmes of ESPC4 and PERM5, and a call for abstracts for presentations and posters for ESPC4 are now online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Phosphates 2022

7 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida. This is “the” phosphate industry professional conference, with over 400 participants.

cru Phosphates 2022Phosphates 2022 will be in-person (with an online option), and a major chance to re-connect with the phosphate industry, from mining through rock and acid processing, to fertilisers, feed phosphates and technical phosphates. The two-day conference will have a dual agenda: commercial - market – regulatory, and technical and industry operational.

CRU Phosphates 2022: https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

Baltic Nutrient Recycling Strategy implementation webinar

Monday 22 November 2021, 9h00 – 12h45 CET. This webinar will address challenges and opportunities in implementation of the HELCOM Nutrient Recycling Strategy, with the Finland Ministry of the Environment, UBA Germany, Lithuania Ministry for Agriculture, HELCOM, European Commission DG Agriculture and DG GROW, Swedish Water, etc.

Webinar “PA Nutri and PA Bioeconomy webinar on the implementation of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy”, Monday 22 November 2021, 9h00 – 12h45 CET, registration HERE.

Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies

ESPP, DPP and NNP are updating the Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies summarising processes for recovery of nutrients from sewage, manure or other sources. Information is invited on technologies to be added. To be included, technologies should be operational or demonstrated at full-scale or pilot scale, and should recover phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and/or micro-nutrients. The catalogue provides practical data and information on: technology supplier(s) (website, contact), process input materials (sewage sludge, ash, manure, etc.), output products (nutrient content, organic carbon content and other properties), process description (in particular indicating fate of contaminants), current operating status (number and capacity of plants operating, capacity of pilots and duration of continuous operation) and photos of installations.

To include further technologies in the Catalogue: send information, as specified above and if possible in the format of (column titles) the Catalogue as currently online here to

ESPP - DPP - NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

Call for abstracts: “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils

ESPP, with BOKU, are organising a webinar 2nd February 2022, 13h – 17h CET, on relationships between draw-down of “Legacy P”, crop yield and P losses, see below. Abstracts are invited by 30th November 2021

Webinar website, call for abstracts, registration www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

 

Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022

A new call for abstracts for presentations and posters is now open for the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Vienna 20-22 June 2022. Deadline 30th November 2021. Proposed presentations should address the conference parallel session themes (see updated programme here): policy tools and business models, climate change links to phosphorus management, new fertilisers for nutrient sustainability, P-recycling R&D and new technologies, regions in action for phosphorus sustainability. Posters can address any theme relating to phosphorus sustainability. Abstract submission instructions are on the conference website here.

ESPC4 – PERM5 website: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Call for information on P flows and resources for EU Critical Raw Material assessment

The EU-funded SCRREEN2 project has launched the re-assessment of materials on the EU’s Critical Raw Materials (CRM) list, and is looking for information on phosphorus resources, uses, flows, and LCAs.

The European Commission published the 4th version of the Critical Raw Materials List (CRM) in September 2020. The CRM list currently includes 30 materials, including both Phosphate Rock (in effect: phosphorus in any form: rock, fertiliser, chemicals, biological materials, etc.) and “Phosphorus” (in effect: P4 and derivatives).

The EU is now supporting the “SCRREEN2” project with 3 million € EU funding (following on from SCRREEN1, which also received 3 million € EU funding) led by the French atomic energy agency CEA, to develop information and an expert network to support the EU decision making process for critical raw materials.

SCRREEN will update the European Commission’s “Fact Sheets” (September 2020). In particular, a first EU experts’ workshop on 22nd October 2021 (ESPP participated) recognised the need to separate the Fact Sheets for “Phosphate Rock” (all forms of P) and “Phosphorus” (P4 and derivates), which are currently confused into one.

For “Phosphate Rock” (which in effect concerns all uses and flows of P in any form, mineral or organic/biological: mined phosphate rock, secondary P resources, animal feed and food, etc.), please provide information (data, publications or links to studies, reports, etc.) as follows:

  • Recent studies on potential secondary P resources in Europe (quantities, flows, etc..)
  • Recent papers or studies on P-rock resources, P supply geopolitics
  • Recent overviews or studies on P-uses, markets and trade, in Europe or worldwide (phosphate rock and P-acid, fertilisers, P in animal fodder and feeds, P in food, industrial uses, etc..)
  • LCAs of P-recovery, P-fertilisers, other P products or uses
  • comments on the 2020 Fact Sheets (“Phosphate Rock and Phosphorus”, pages 525-546).

For the second Critical Raw Material, P4 and derivates (CRM “Phosphorus”), ESPP has indicated to SCRREEN that full up-to-date information was developed in the joint workshop organised by ESPP and the European Commission on 9th July 2020 (with participation of nearly all concerned companies in Europe) presented in detail (after technical validation) in ESPP’s SCOPE Newsletter n°136 and then used in the EU JRC MSA (Material System Analysis) for P4 published in 2021 (http://dx.doi.org/10.2760/677981)

Please send your input to and we will input to the SCRREEN process, for which ESPP is a registered expert.

 

 

EU consultations and tenders

EU public consultations open

Air quality. Revision of EU rules. Open to 16th December 2021. Consultation.

Pharmaceuticals: Revision of the EU general pharmaceuticals legislation. Open to 21st December 2021. Consultation.

 

EU tender on fertilising products technical documentation

The European Commission has published a tender (low value contracts procedure) to develop a ‘Guidance Document’ for companies placing products on the market, to provide information on technical documentation for EU Fertilising Products. Deadline 12 November 2021 for submission of interest.

“Study in support of a guidance document for the elaboration of the technical documentation of EU fertilising products” https://ec.europa.eu/growth/low-value-contracts-procedures_en

 

 

Nutrient recycling

 

Recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

FiBL has published a “reflections” paper on the acceptability of recycled phosphorus fertilisers in European Organic Agriculture, providing possible criteria for which recycled nutrient products are likely to be accepted. The paper “provides only the personal opinion of the authors” but is coherent with discussions ongoing in the Organic Farming movement and via the EU-funded project RELACS (see ESPP eNews n°53). The paper takes as starting point Annex II of EU Regulation 2021/1165, that is the updated list of products and substances authorised in Organic Production in the EU (public consultation, April 2021, see  ESPP eNews n°53).

This paper addresses only recovered phosphorus products, but notes that other recycled plant nutrients (e.g. nitrogen) could be discussed in the future. ESPP also notes that Regulation 2021/1165 already authorises (subject to EU fertilisers regulation contaminant limits), be they recycled or otherwise, “Inorganic micronutrient fertilisers” (e.g. iron) and “Elemental sulphur”.

The FiBL paper notes that certain input materials are already considered acceptable in this Regulation: manure (but NOT manure from factory farming), food industry wastes, source separated household organic waste, bones. Sewage sludge is currently not listed, but the EU expert committee for Organic Farming (EGTOP) has given positive opinions on struvite and calcined phosphates (both) recovered from municipal sewage, and more widely on all products from municipal sewage if the production process ensures pathogen safety and minimises contaminants (all three in EGTOP Opinion of 2/2/2016).

A key point indicated by FiBL is that the EU Organic Farming regulation requires only “low solubility” mineral fertilisers, and the paper suggests that a criterion could be < 25% P water solubility.

Use of nitric acid in the recovery process is questioned, because the Organic Farming movement would regard this as “synthetic nitrogen”. The use of other synthetic reagents in recovery processes is considered acceptable, with preference to natural origin materials and with health and environmental impacts avoided.

The paper suggests that, for recycled fertilisers, the contaminant limits of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation should be considered as providing adequate environmental protection, but that products with low contaminant levels should be preferred, and lower contaminant levels could be fixed in the EU Organic Farming Regulation.

This document provides a valuable starting point to identify which recycled phosphorus products can be appropriately proposed for inclusion into the Organic Farming Regulation and to support such proposals. ESPP will now propose to our members, to wider stakeholders and to the Organic Farming movement (IFOAM, RELACS, FiBL) to define a short list of corresponding recycled P products and to develop dossiers for submission (via Member States) for consideration by the European Commission (DG AGRI) and by EGTOP.

“Reflections on the acceptability of recycled P fertilisers for European organic agriculture”, 29 September 2021, V. Leschenne, B. Speiser, FiBL https://www.betriebsmittelliste.ch/fileadmin/bml-ch/documents/stellungnahmen/Recycled_P_fertilisers_v2_Sept_2021.pdf

FiBL is the Swiss Organic Farming research institute.

EGTOP Opinion of 2/2/2016 on recovered struvite, calcined phosphates and products from municipal sewage https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/eu-policy/expert-advice/documents/final-reports/final-report-egtop-on-fertilizers-2_en.pdf

EU Organic Farming inputs list Regulation 2021/1126 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32021R1165&from=EN

 

Updated overview of phosphorus recovery and/or recycling facilities

Both the inventory list of operating full-scale P -recovery / -recycling installations worldwide (Christian Kabbe, P-REX Environment) and the ESPP – DPP - NNP catalogue of nutrient recycling technologies are updated online here.  The inventory list has been fully updated, and indicates some 120 installations operating worldwide, specifying the technology supplier, the location, operating since, the recovered phosphate material/product and the annual tonnage of product output. The technology catalogue is in the process of updating (see call for input above) and has been updated to already include information received.

Online here: https://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/activities/p-recovery-technology-inventory

Information for updates of the inventory and catalogue are welcome: to

 

 

Swiss update report on P-recovery technologies

The Swiss Federal Environment Office published in 2017 an overview report comparing 20 P-recovery technologies. A 2019 update compares 8 technologies adapted to the Swiss P-recovery obligation: ExtraPhos (Budenheim), EuPhoRe*, Pyrophos*, ZAB (Glatt Phos4Green)*, CleanMAP (EasyMining)*, EcoPhos (now Prayon), Phos4Life (ZAR – Técnicas Reunidas), Tetraphos (Remondis) [* = not covered in the 2017 report, summarised in ESPP eNews n°12]. The eight technologies are assessed on the basis of 13 criteria, in three thematic groups: Closing the Loop (input flexibility, degree of recovery), Environment (chemical use, energy, waste), Product (P content, plant availability, pollutant content, product yield). A third update of the report is currently under preparation and is expected to be published in 2022.

“Technologien zur Phosphor-Rückgewinnung. Bewertung von Technologien für die Schweiz bezogen auf den Entwicklungsstand”, EBP for BAFU (Swiss Federal Office for the Environment), April 2019, in German LINK.

The Swiss Government has also published (2020) a document on implementation of the national P-recovery regulation, see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°141.

 

 

LCA and greenhouse gas benefits of recycled nitrogen

Energy use and greenhouse emissions were compared using several LCA methods, calculated according to field trial crop yields, and modelled field N losses. The recycled N fertilisers tested were digestate from anaerobic digestion of wastes, meat and bone meal (combined with oat hulls, chicken manure and vinasse) and ammonium sulphate from nylon product. For the mineral fertiliser, data for calcium ammonium nitrate from Ecoinvent was used. The authors note that results vary considerably depending on whether recycled raw materials are allocated as “waste” or “by-product” (i.e. with economic value allocation). LCAs using both ISO 14040:2006 and European Commission Environmental Footprint project methods were calculated. Field trials were carried out using the three recycled N fertilisers, mineral fertiliser and no fertiliser (control), using spring sown oats near Helsinki, Finland. Yields with the recycled fertilisers were not statistically significantly different from yields with the mineral fertiliser (whereas control yield was significantly lower than all fertiliser treatments), but nonetheless the somewhat lower average yields with the recycled fertilisers were used in the LCA calculation (-7% to -15%). Atmospheric and leaching N emissions from fields were estimated based on N inputs, crop yield and coefficients for organic (digestate, meal and bone meal) or mineral (mineral fertiliser, ammonium sulphate) N fertilisers. Energy use and GHG emissions were lower for the recycled N fertilisers than for mineral fertilisers, whatever the calculation method, with differences between the recycled N fertilisers varying depending on the calculation method.

“Carbon footprint and energy use of recycled fertilizers in arable Farming”, V. Kyttä et al., J. Cleaner Production, Volume 287, 10 March 2021, 125063 DOI.

 

 

Pathogens in struvite from poultry manure digestate

Struvite precipitated in batch lab tests from poultry slurry digestate (mesophilic, 37°C) showed significant levels of foodborne pathogens, depending on precipitation pH and post-treatment: E. coli, Streptococcus, Clostridium. The batch struvite precipitation tests involved 40 minutes reaction time and 30 minutes settling, at pH 9, 10 or 11. The struvite was settled and recovered by filtration, but not washed. Pathogen levels in the struvite were significant, but lower with increasing pH. E. coli was 10-40% higher than the EU STRUBIAS criteria limit (for precipitated phosphates) of 1 000 CFU/g when struvite was precipitated at pH9, but lower at pH 10 or 11. Pathogen inactivation technologies were tested on the recovered struvite: drying (35 – 55 °C), high humidity hot air impingement blanching (HHAIB, 110 – 130 °C), cold plasma (30 – 60 seconds). These technologies significantly reduced pathogens to “very low” levels, lower than natural soil levels. They did not modify the struvite crystal structure, but they did reduce metal-oxygen functional group abundance, and treatments > 55°C would lead to ammonia loss. This study confirms the need for further investigation of pathogens in recovered struvites and approaches to reduce these, including in continuous precipitation installations (rather than batch tests), as well as testing of washing and low temperature drying – storage for pathogen reduction. ESPP notes that the anaerobic digestion, depending on operating temperature and conditions, can also ensure sanitary safety of the digestate, upstream of the struvite recovery.

“Quantitative characterization and effective inactivation of biological hazards in struvite recovered from digested poultry slurry”, A. Muhmood et al., Water Research 204 (2021) 117659 DOI.

 

Fertilisers from spent fire extinguisher power

End-of-life powder from ABC fire extinguishers, containing MAP* and ammonium sulphate was combined with compost (of municipal solid organic waste) and fibres to produce pellets. Fire extinguishers must be emptied and the powder renewed every three years. The spent powder is very fine (90% of particles < 0.25 mm, 40% < 0.04 mm) so posing risks of inhalation and accidental pollution. The powder contains 40-50% MAP* and additives for flow / anti-caking, colour or water repellence (in particular, silicones). After removal of these additives (using specific technology under patenting), the spent extinguisher powder was combined with dried compost and fibres (wood chips or Jatropha seed cake), in five different combinations, each with 10% spent extinguisher powder, in a rotary 6 mm die pressing machine (using no heat or additives, only mechanical pressure). Lignin in the wood chips showed to be an effective binder and pellets showed mechanical resistance (necessary for handling) and water uptake (necessary to render nutrients plant available) compatible with agricultural use. Further work is needed to assess the fertiliser value (especially crop nutrient availability) of the pellets, to test their handling and resistance in agricultural equipment (verify no dusting) and to ensure no risk of dust release to the environment or inhalation during spent extinguisher powder preparation, handling and pelletising.

* MAP = mono ammonium phosphate

Work carried out as part of the “FIRECOMPOST” project, funded by the Calabria Region POR FESR-FSE 2014-2020

“Pelletization of Compost from Different Mixtures with the Addition of Exhausted Extinguishing Powders”, S. Papandrea et al., Agronomy 2021, 11, 1357, DOI.

 

 

P-fertiliser and lithium recovery from batteries

Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries represent over 1/3 of the world market for lithium ion batteries. A process to recover lithium and a phosphate fertiliser is presented. Currently LFP batteries are difficult to recycle: regeneration leads to battery quality deterioration and strong acid dissolution results in large quantities of wastewater and loss of the phosphorus. In this lab study, the batteries were shredded, then the cathode material separated (from aluminium foils) by ultrasound in 0.4 mol NaOH. The extracted cathode material is then reacted with Na2S2O8 to recover lithium sulphate solution (for lithium recovery). The remaining material is then reacted with Na2S resulting in a phosphate solution (HPO4 / H2PO4), which is then reacted with urea, N,N’-methylenebisacrylamide, acrylic acid and potassium persulphate, then dried. This results in an N-P-K slow-release fertiliser material, containing approx. 18%N, 6.5%P, and some K. Recovery of both lithium and phosphorus > 99% could be achieved. This recovered fertiliser material was tested in pot trials with maize, showing significantly increased growth compared to control (no comparison was made to commercial fertiliser). Tested heavy metals (Cd, As, Pb, Cr, Hg) were below detection limit in the recovered N-P-K fertiliser, as were iron and sulphur. Residues from the process were mainly NaFeS2 (used as a catalyst for degradation of methylene blue and indigo carmine) and Na2SO4 (a commodity chemical). The authors conclude that the process would offer significantly better profitability than recovery of lithium only (lithium is <2% of LFP battery weight, whereas phosphorus (as P) is c. 17%).

“Recycling phosphorus from spent LiFePO4 battery for multifunctional slow-release fertilizer preparation and simultaneous recovery of Lithium”, H-H. Yue et al., Chemical Engineering Journal 426 (2021) 131311, DOI.

 

 

Sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA) shows limited P fertiliser efficiency

Pot trials of twelve SSIAs show P effectiveness 5% - 46% compared to mineral P fertiliser TSP (comparable to 24% for phosphate rock). NAC P-solubility only explained around 50% of variation in effectiveness. Random forest analysis of the three parameters oxalate extractable aluminium, phosphorus and iron was the best indicator of P-fertiliser effectiveness, predicting c. 80% of variability. The greenhouse pot trials used rye grass grown for twelve weeks, in two soils (clay and sandy loam), pH 6 – 7. The SSIAs came from 11 municipal sewage sludge mono-incinerators in Canada and the USA, and one agri-food processing plant incinerator, with several different types of incinerator, operating at different temperatures (8 out of 12 at lower temperatures than the EU IED requirement of 850°C). Ten of the eleven municipal plants used iron and/or aluminium coagulants. Data for P, Fe, Al and other minerals in the twelve ashes are provided, as are data for inorganic contaminants. The authors conclude that levels of heavy metals in the SSIAs “do not appear to be of concern for agricultural use”, whereas six of the eleven municipal sewage SSIAs show copper levels higher than the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) 2019/1009 limit of 600 mgCu/kg limit for mineral fertilisers, two show zinc levels higher than the FPR limit (1500 mgZn/kg) and three show lead levels higher than the FPR limit (120 mgPb/kg).

“Assessing and predicting phosphorus phytoavailability from sludge incineration ashes”, C-A. Joseph et al., Chemosphere 288 (2022) 132498 DOI and “Influence of Sludge Incineration Ash on Ryegrass Growth and Soil Phosphorus Status”, C-A. Joseph et al., Pedosphere 29(1): 70–81, 2019 DOI. These publications present the same study. The study was part funded by the participating incinerators.

 

 

 

Potential for P-recovery from meat processing

Data from a meat processing company and lab tests suggest that c. 13 ktP/y could be recovered from meat processing in Poland, by calcining, to high quality hydroxyapatite (calcium phosphate, human food or animal feed grade). ESPP notes that currently this recovered phosphate cannot be used in Europe because the European Commission DG SANTE and EFSA have not yet defined an Animal By Products Regulation ‘End Point’. The experimental work tested calcining (at 600°C – 950°C) of bone sludge and of bone waste (from pigs and cattle). Bone sludge is produced by hydrolysis of bones, to remove proteins, and showed 12 – 16% P-content and 12 – 20% organics. After calcining, hydroxyapatite (mainly Ca5(PO4)3OH) was produced with c. 17% P, low levels of silicon and iron, aluminium, cadmium and manganese considerably lower than in phosphate rock. The authors estimate that waste from slaughterhouses and meat processing in Poland is around 230 000 t/y, that is c. 24% of the meat processed, and that some 70 000 t/y of hydroxyapatite could be recovered, worth c. 10 million €/y based on the price of phosphate rock.

“Quantification of material recovery from meat waste incineration – An approach to an updated food waste hierarchy”, Z. Kowalski et al., J. Hazardous Materials 416 (2021) 126021 DOI.

 

 

Impacts of ferric on anaerobic digestion

Lab tests of five forms of ferric phosphate in sewage sludge fermentation suggest that amorphous iron(III) phosphate reduced to vivianite, releasing soluble P. Most forms inhibited VFA production, and so potentially methane production. Five forms of iron(III) phosphate which can be found in sewage sludge after use of ferric salts for P-removal were tested: anhydrous ferric-phosphate (FePO4), ferric-phosphate dihydrate (FePO4⋅2H2O), ferric-phosphate trihydrate (FePO4⋅3H2O), ferric-phosphate tetrahydrate (FePO4⋅4H2O), Giniite (Fe5(PO4)4(OH)3⋅2H2O). The ferric phosphates were added to WAS sludge from a laboratory anaerobic-anoxic-oxic (AAO) reactor at 2.6 mmol Fe/g VSS in 600 ml bottles, air was removed, then the bottles were closed and fermented in a shaker at 35°C for 7 days. All the ferric [i.e. Fe(III)] phosphates except Giniite (that is, all the FePO4.nH2O ferric phosphates, n=0-4) released soluble P during fermentation, due to reduction to Fe(II) phosphate, with the reduction rate of hexagonal FePO4 being highest. All the Fe(III) phosphates had negative impacts on fermentation of sludge, reducing specific hydrolysis rate constant and volatile fatty acid yield (VFA) by around -40% for amorphous ferric-phosphate trihydrate (this confirms results from Kim and Chung 2015). ESPP comment: overall this study suggests that further work is needed on how iron dosing may impact anaerobic digestion, depending on different forms of iron phosphate present, but it is not clear how sewage works or digester operators can influence the forms of iron phosphate.

“Effects of ferric-phosphate forms on phosphorus release and the performance of anaerobic fermentation of waste activated sludge”, Z. Zhang et al., Bioresource Technology 323 (2021) 124622 DOI.

 

 

Eutrophication and nutrient losses

 

Wisconsin’s nutrient pollution trading system

Analysis of the three market-like phosphorus credit programmes, providing opportunities for reduced P discharge compliance costs for funding of reduction of diffuse (agricultural) P losses, in the State of Wisconsin (USA).  84% of US phosphorus pollution is from diffuse “non-point” sources (mainly agriculture). Point sources are highly regulated through water quality permits whereas policy on non-point sources is incentive or voluntary. The US EPA formalised its policy for guidance water quality trading in 2003. Wisconsin enacted restrictive numeric water quality standards for P in 2010 (ambient P of 0.015 - 0.1 mg/L), and shortly after launched three P credit programmes. The three components of Wisconsin’s Water Quality Trading Programme for phosphorus (1) enables permitted point sources to purchase discharge credits from other point sources or from (non-regulated) non-point sources, (2) allows all nutrient sources in a watershed to coordinate efforts to meet the water body P standard (“Adaptive Management”), and (3) allows small point sources to purchase credits by paying a fixed price in to a fund for agricultural pollution control (“Multi-Discharger Variance”). This has resulted in a significant number of P credit trading transactions. As of mid 2021, more than 140 point sources have participated in these market-like options. Analysis shows that decisions are influenced by stringent water body P standards and credit trades and coordination are more likely in larger municipalities, who show more institutional preparedness for such engagement. The authors conclude that nutrient credit markets move slowly and that the urban – rural stakeholder relationship is critical to uptake.

“Key Elements of Nutrient Credit Markets: An Empirical Investigation of Wisconsin’s Market-like Phosphorus Control Policy”, Z. Wu thesis University of Wisconsin-Madison 2021 LINK.

 

 

Climate change, eutrophication and algal toxins

This book reviews science on links between climate change and marine and freshwater toxins. These are released mainly from “blue-green algae” (cyanobacteria) and which can impact humans e.g. by accumulation in shellfish or fish. Previously unreported toxin events are now occurring including in Europe tetrodotoxin intoxications from shellfish and ostreocin in aerosols on Mediterranean beaches. There are some 2 000 cyanobacteria species identified worldwide, of which 50 are today known to produce natural toxins. Climate change is expected to benefit bloom-forming cyanobacteria, increasing growth rates, with more severe and longer blooms and shifts in geographical distribution, but the impact of climate change on toxin production is likely to be variable (Kelly et al., ch. 5). Climate change impacts (analysed in detail in Reichwaldt et al., ch. 6) include higher temperatures, leading to warmer water (faster algal growth), stratification and evaporation (so increasing nutrient concentrations), increased occurrence of high rainfall events (accentuating nutrient losses to waters, especially after droughts), The authors identify as emerging toxins related to climate change, in particular in the Mediterranean: tetrodotoxin, palytoxin, cyclic imines (gymondimine, spirolides, pinnatoxins), ciguatoxins, brevetoxin. Toxins can impact global food supply, by food safety of fisheries and aquaculture (Carmen Louzao et al., ch. 14): amnesic shellfish poisoning (the toxin domoic acid produced by Pseudo-nitzschia is accumulated in shellfish), ciguatera fish poisoning (Gambierdiscus produce ciguatoxins, which accumulate or are metabolised to other toxins in fish), diarrheic shellfish poisoning (dinophysistoxins produced by Dinopysis), neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (brevotoxins from Karenia brevis), palytoxin poisoning (from Ostreopsis), paralytic shellfish poisoning (often from Alexandriuim), yessotoxin shellfish poisoning, etc. National and international regulations and safety limits for different toxins are listed as well as detection methods (Vilariño et al., ch. 15), underlining the current limitations to detecting and determining toxins, the challenges of adapting to emerging toxins and the need for updated monitoring programmes.

“Climate change and marine and freshwater toxins”, L. Botana, M. Carmen Louzao and N. Vilariño editors, 668 pages, 2021 ISBN 978-3-11-062292-8

 

Stay informed

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ESPP members

ESPP members logos 3 2021

 

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews059
Download as PDF

Events and calls for input
ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022
Phosphates 2022
PhD / Masters school on wastewater circular economy
Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies
Call for abstracts: “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils
Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022

EU consultations

EU public consultations open
ESPP input made on EU “Taxonomy” criteria
ESPP input on End-of-Waste

“Legacy Phosphorus”
SPA webinar on “Legacy Phosphorus”
Review paper on “Legacy Phosphorus”
“Legacy Phosphorus”, crop productivity and P-losses

Policy
Urgent need for conformity assessment bodies for fertilising products
Post-processed digestates and composts excluded from EU fertilising products
UK requires “nutrient neutrality” for developments near protected habitats
Erratum: EU Member States derogatory cadmium limits
EU partly lifts ban on feeding processed animal protein (PAP) to animals

Nutrient recycling
N2 Applied on the world’s radio
Glatt & Seraplant commission 30 000 t(ash)/y P-recycling plant
Técnicas Reunidas announces contract for 40 000 t(ash)/y P-recycling plant
25 million US$ for P sustainability research centre: STEPS

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

Events and calls for input

ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

espc4 enews 58 2The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022 (summary of PERM4, June 2021, online, coming soon here).

ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies summarising processes for recovery of nutrients from sewage, manure or other sources, currently being updated (see below).

ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both physical and accessible online.

Updated outline programmes of ESPC4 and PERM5, and a call for abstracts for presentations and posters for ESPC4 are now online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Phosphates 2022

7 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida. This is “the” phosphate industry professional conference, with over 400 participants. Phosphates 2022 will be in-person (with an online option), and a major chance to re-connect with the phosphate industry, from mining through rock and acid processing, to fertilisers, feed phosphates and technical phosphates. The two-day conference will have a dual agenda: commercial - market – regulatory, and technical and industry operational.

CRU Phosphates 2022:
https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

PhD / Masters school on wastewater circular economy

22-26 November 2021, Cracow, Poland. The MonGOS Winter School enables 25 young researchers (Masters, PhD) to explore wastewater resource, water and energy recovery and circular economy indicators and practices. The School will be led by experts from the MonGOS project partner institutes in Belgium, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland and will be based on targeted teaching and workshops, group projects and case studies.

Applications are open to 17th October 2021. In English. Free. MonGOS Winter School 2021 : https://mon-gos.eu/winter-school-2021/  

 

 

Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies

ESPP, DPP and NNP are updating the Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies summarising processes for recovery of nutrients from sewage, manure or other sources. Information is invited on technologies to be added. To be included, technologies should be operational or demonstrated at full-scale or pilot scale, and should recover phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and/or micro-nutrients. The catalogue provides practical data and information on: technology supplier(s) (website, contact), process input materials (sewage sludge, ash, manure, etc.), output products (nutrient content, organic carbon content and other properties), process description (in particular indicating fate of contaminants), current operating status (number and capacity of plants operating, capacity of pilots and duration of continuous operation) and photos of installations.

To include further technologies in the Catalogue: send information, as specified above and if possible in the format of (column titles) the Catalogue as currently online here to

ESPP - DPP - NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

Call for abstracts: “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils

ESPP, with BOKU, are organising a webinar 2nd February 2022, 13h – 17h CET, on relationships between draw-down of “Legacy P”, crop yield and P losses, see below. Abstracts are invited by 30th November 2021

Webinar website, call for abstracts, registration www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

 

Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022

A new call for abstracts for presentations and posters is now open for the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Vienna 20-22 June 2022. Deadline 30th November 2021. Proposed presentations should address the conference parallel session themes (see updated programme here): Policy tools and business models, Climate change links to phosphorus management, New fertilisers for nutrient sustainability, P-recycling R&D and new technologies, Regions in action for phosphorus sustainability. Posters can address any theme relating to phosphorus sustainability. Abstract submission instructions are on the conference website here.

ESPC4 – PERM5 website: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

EU consultations

EU public consultations open

Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). “Protecting the marine environment – review of EU rules”. Open to 21st October 2021. See details in ESPP eNews n°58. Consultation.

Water pollutants. “Integrated water management – revised lists of surface and groundwater pollutants”. Open to 1st November 2021. See details in ESPP eNews n°58Consultation.

Air quality. Revision of EU rules. Open to 16th December 2021. Consultation.

Pharmaceuticals: Revision of the EU general pharmaceuticals legislation. Open to 21st December 2021. Consultation.

 

ESPP input made on EU “Taxonomy” criteria

These criteria will define which economic activities under what conditions, will be eligible for EU Green Deal investment funding and other eco-incentives. Phosphorus recovery from sewage is listed as one of the 100 activities.

ESPP input suggested that the item P-recovery from sewage treatment should be widened to cover P-recovery from other waste streams, and also to cover recovery of other nutrients, in particular N-recovery. ESPP suggested that the two items on agriculture (livestock, crops) should include Phosphorus Use Efficiency in criteria, in addition to Nitrogen Use Efficiency as proposed. ESPP also input on tourism (include environmental impact of restaurant menus), food industry (promote nutrient circularity, water treatment, bio-waste and solid waste).

Consultation closed 28th September 2021, documents online here    See ESPP eNews n°58 and ESPP input here

 

ESPP input on End-of-Waste

ESPP and Eureau, with participation from stakeholders, have input to the EU JRC consultation on selecting priority materials for definition of EU End-of-Waste Criteria, suggesting different recovered materials from wastewaters.

The process for obtaining EU End-of-Waste status for use in fertilisers is ensured by the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009. ESPP and Eureau made input concerning non-fertiliser applications of the following materials: minerals recovered from ashes (e.g. recovery of phosphoric acid from sewage sludge incineration ash), minerals recovered from wastewater (e.g. recovered struvite or vivianite as a flame retardant, recovery of iron or aluminium compounds for use as coagulants, etc.), recovery of nitrogen salts for use as a commodity chemical, algae grown in wastewater, bioplastics (PHA, PLA), cellulose (crude, fluff, pellets), “Kaumera” biopolymer.

Consultation closed 10th October 2021, documents online here    See ESPP eNews n°57 and ESPP input here

 

“Legacy Phosphorus”

SPA webinar on “Legacy Phosphorus”

80 participants listened to the three speakers on phosphorus accumulation in agricultural soils, soil P chemistry and actions to reduce P runoff. Online questions focussed on whether soil P could be reduced without losing crop yield.

The webinar was introduced by Matt Scholz, US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance (SPA) who pointed to a global “legacy P problem”, where phosphorus from past applications of fertilisers and manure overwhelms soil P storage capacity and leaks into surface waters. He referred to Wironen 2018 (see SCOPE Newsletter n°128) who showed how Vermont continues to accumulate > 5 kgP/ha/y in soil, despite improvements in phosphorus use efficiency, and despite significant reconversion of agricultural land back to woodland, because of increasing and increasingly concentrated dairy livestock production.

GoyetteJean-Olivier Goyette, University Laval, cited a number of studies indicating that P accumulated in watersheds (soils and water sediments) from past activities can represent a significant part of current P loads to surface waters (McCracklin 2018 DOI: 50% to the Baltic, Meng 2021 DOI: 50- 80% for China upland rivers), and that a drawdown of this legacy P pool could take decades to centuries (McDowell 2020 DOI, Goyette 2018 DOI, Carpenter 2005 DOI). He suggested that this accumulation of P is related to the low phosphorus efficiency (PUE) of food production, which has fallen from 35% around 1900 to 6% today, largely because livestock production and fertiliser use (crop PUE: 30%, conversion vegetal-animal 10%; see Liu 2016 DOI, Suh 2011 DOI). He underlined that studies have shown that once soil reaches around 20% “P saturation” (saturation of mineral binding ions such as Fe, Al, Ca) losses to surface waters begin to occur, that is a “breakpoint” (Nair 2014 DOI). At the watershed scale, this can occur after accumulation of just 21 kgP/ha (Goyette 2018 DOI). It remains to be clarified however how this P-loss “breakpoint” relates to agronomically recommended soil P levels and to crop yields.

HesterbergDean Hesterberg, Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS/CNPEM), discussed soil phosphorus chemistry and the complexity of relations between “labile” phosphorus (i.e., which can be released from mineral binding sites in soil) and plant-available phosphorus. Roots only directly take up the orthophosphate in soil pore water, which is typically less than 0.1% of average total phosphorus in the top 20 cm of soil, i.e., >99.9% resides in the soil solids. Plants have mechanisms to mobilize solid-phase soil P, although a significant portion of inorganic P tends to become less plant available over time by mechanisms that are not fully understood. Also, (micro)biological mechanisms convert organic forms of phosphorus into more plant-available forms. Complexity results from the very wide variability in soil properties and soil biology, including between different soil depths in the same soil, variation with climate, and different plant species’ ability to access phosphorus.

ScottIsis S. P. C. Scott, University of Maryland/Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory (USDA-ARS) outlined different techniques to reduce P losses to water bodies: prevention of legacy-P sources = balanced nutrient application and animal diet, manure export; containment = tillage practices aimed at reducing particle detachment, soil amendments, buffer zones and wetlands; and remediation, namely soil P drawdown by crops and phosphorus removal structures, also known as P traps. These remediation practices work across different temporal scales: Draw-down is a long-term remediation strategy, while P traps are an immediate practice targeting dissolved P in runoff, drainage, or wastewater. Phosphorus traps are systems containing PSMs (phosphorus sorption materials) installed in both urban or rural hotspots, promoting P removal before discharge into rivers or lakes. For information on how to design P removal structures, see the USDA P-trap app. See also SCOPE Newsletter n°138.

Discussion in the webinar chat asked what is the definition of “Legacy phosphorus”. Does the term refer to any levels of soil P higher than natural or background levels? Or does it mean soil P levels higher than agronomic recommended indexes defined to enable optimum crop productivity? This was also reflected in the question: to what extent can “Legacy P” be drawn down without significantly reducing crop yield?.

US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance (SPA) webinar “A Legacy of Phosphorus”, 30th September 2021.

Watch the webinar on SPA’s YouTube channel

A follow-up webinar addressing the question of links between “Legacy P”, crop productivity and P losses to watersheds will is organised by ESPP 2nd February 2022, 13h – 17h CET. If you wish to present at this webinar, contact

 

Review paper on “Legacy Phosphorus”

Accumulation of P in soils in the US is considered to mainly result from mineral fertiliser application, not manure, and to result in increases in mineral forms of P in soils, not organic P. The abstract states that accumulation of “Legacy P” in soils can increase nutrient runoff leading to eutrophication, but with little supporting evidence (only one study cited, not apparently relevant). The review itself suggests that inorganic P applied to soil is absorbed or reacted with a wide range of minerals in soil, and the bio-availability of this mineral phosphorus pool depends mainly on soil pH. P in organic forms in soils is mainly as monoesters or diesters. Some field studies suggest that annual application of manure (e.g. 30 kgP/ha/y) did not lead to an accumulation of soil organic P. Also, native organic P forms in soils appear to be relatively stable, and may not be reduced even after fertiliser application is stopped. Plants can access non-soluble soil phosphorus by extending root structure, or by releasing acids or enzymes from roots. Tests suggest that changes in root architecture and release of enzymes are more effective than release of organic acids (this despite the importance of soil pH indicated above). The paper does not explore to what extent ‘mining’ of soil P by plants by such mechanisms could impact crop productivity.

“Review. Accessing Legacy Phosphorus in Soils”, S. Doydora et al., Soil Syst. 2020, 4, 74; LINK.

 

 

“Legacy Phosphorus”, crop productivity and P-losses

ESPP will host a webinar to discuss how “Legacy P”, and proposals to “draw down Legacy P”, are related to agronomic recommended soil P indexes and crop yield, and to P losses to watershed: 2nd Feb. 2022, 13h – 17h CET.

With Achim Doberman, Chief Scientist, International Fertilisers Association (IFA); Jim Elser, University of Montana, USA; Phil Haygarth, University of Lancaster, UK; Andrew Sharpley, University of Arkansas, USA.

This ESPP webinar will follow on from the SPA (US) webinar “A Legacy of Phosphorus”, 30th September 2021 (see above) and from the Frontiers in Earth Science special on ‘Legacy Phosphorus’ summarised in ESPP eNews n°56

A SCOPE Newsletter special issue will summarise this ESPP webinar and the SPA webinar, and will also include selected abstracts submitted to the ESPP webinar as well as a selection of c. 20 relevant recent scientific publications.

Call for presentations and posters, open to 30th November 2021 www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

Organised with BOKU Austria. Preference for results from field, pot or lysimeter studies (i.e., “real data”), but interesting modelling studies will also be considered. Selected submissions not accepted for presentations will be made available to participants and then published in the SCOPE Newsletter Special Issue.

 

Policy

 

Urgent need for conformity assessment bodies for fertilising products

Industry concerned that the lack of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CAB) may prevent products from obtaining access to the market under the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR).

The new FPR (EU) 2019/1009 (FPR) is set to apply from 16 July 2022 and requires third party certification for many products covered by this regulation. Accreditation of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) is required so that fertilising and plant biostimulant products are able to gain access to the EU Single Market. So far, very few CABs have applied for accreditation across EU member states to date. We are concerned that the lack of CABs will prevent products covered by the FPR from accessing the Single Market, which will be detrimental to industries and farmers alike.

In this context, EBIC, ECOFI, Fertilizers Europe and IVA are urging all concerned parties to reach out to organisations qualified and eligible to act as Conformity Assessment Bodies immediately and encourage them to apply without further delay for notification. To demonstrate the potential demand for CABs, these four associations reached out to their members to make a preliminary, joint estimate of how many products are expected to be submitted for certification under the FPR in the next two years. The data was collected by a third party in full compliance with competition rules and the resulting aggregated figures were made available to the European Commission. To gain access to the data and for further information, please contact .

The European Commission is organising a virtual info session for certification companies interested in becoming conformity assessment bodies/notified bodies entitled "Conformity assessment of EU fertilising products: WHY and HOW to become a notified body?". Interested parties can register for this on-line event by sending an e-mail to DG GROW.

Article provided by ECOFI, with thanks: www.ecofi.info

For further information, please contact

 

 

Post-processed digestates and composts excluded from EU fertilising products

The European Commission has replied to ESPP that post-processing of digestates and composts (e.g. solid-liquid separation, stabilisation, etc.) is not at present covered by the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) CMC criteria.

ESPP raised this question to DG GROW some time ago, because such post-processing will often be implemented to condition and prepare products to place on the European market, especially digestates. The Commission’s reply also confirms that processing additives used downstream of the anaerobic digester / composter are not considered as “composting/digestion additives” (as cited in CMCs3 and 5), e.g. polymers for solid-liquid separation, pH adjusters, granulation aids etc. It is in ESPP’s view preferable to resolve such questions now, rather than have them being brought up during a control of a product already on the market after implementation of the FPR from June 2022.

The Commission has indicated to ESPP that amendment of CMCs 3-5 (Annex II of the FPR) could be considered to include (certain) post-processing routes, and that this will be discussed in the next EU Fertilisers Expert Group (of which ESPP is a member) in November 2021.

ESPP will work with relevant federations and operators, to prepare a list of process routes and of additives used for post-processing of composts and digestates, and collate information for each one on how widespread is application and market relevance, product benefits, additives used, extent to which compost/digestate is or is not chemically modified by the process, etc.

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) 2019/2009

 

UK requires “nutrient neutrality” for developments near protected habitats

The UK is now requiring “no increase in nutrient emissions” for housing projects impacting Natura 2000 protected areas, to respect the European Court of Justice “Dutch case” ruling.

The Government body Natural England has issued detailed Guidance (60 pages) on how to calculate net nutrient emissions for new developments, for local planning authorities. The Guidance specifically targets the Solent and the Stour catchment, upstream of the Stodmarsh designated wetland sites, Kent, but is being seen as applicable in principle to the catchments of other Natura protected areas. The overall validity of this Guidance has been upheld by the UK High Court, 28th May 2021, in a judgement concerning two housing applications under Fareham Borough Council. The UK requirement for “nutrient neutrality” for protected habitat areas follows the European Court of Justice decision of 7 November 2018 (C-293/17 and C-294/17) stating that “grazing of cattle or application of fertiliser” in the vicinity of a Natura 2000 site may be classified as a “project” (under Directive 2011/92) so requiring demonstration “that there is no reasonable scientific doubt as to the lack of adverse effects” on the Natura site (see ESPP eNews n°35).

The Natural England Guidance defines how to calculate “nutrient neutrality” for housing development, change of agricultural land use, etc. For new housing, is assumed that all residents will be new residents, coming from outside the catchment, so generating additional wastewater: additional nutrient input to the catchment is calculated by multiplying the estimated number of residents in the housing x average water use per person x total P and total N discharge per litre (estimated as 100% of the waste water treatment plant consent limit TN/l and 90% of the consent limit TP/l). Nutrient loss from changes in agricultural land use is estimated from data for average farm N and P loss (kg/ha) compared to average losses from e.g. green space. The numbers used are specific to the local catchment. To achieve “nutrient neutrality”, mitigation actions must be planned to compensate for nutrient loss increases, such as interceptor wetlands, planting of woodland, upgrading of sewage works.

Natural England, July 2020 “Advice on Nutrient Neutrality for New Development in the Stour Catchment in Relation to Stodmarsh Designated Sites - For Local Planning Authorities. July 2020” LINK.

 

Erratum: EU Member States derogatory cadmium limits

The article in ESPP eNews n°57 specifying derogations accorded to certain Member States for fertiliser cadmium limits lower than the EU Fertilising Products Regulation limit of 60 mgCd/kgP2O5 (which will apply to EU fertilisers from July 2022) contained two errors:

  • The limit in Finland is 22 mgCd/kgP2O5 (not 50 as indicated because the Finland regulation is 50 mgCd per kg P not P2O5)
  • The Swedish request to apply a national limit of 20 mgCd/kgP2O5 in 2012 was rejected by the European Commission decision 2012/D0719 because the Commission considered that Sweden “has not provided new scientific evidence relating to the protection of the environment or working environment demonstrating that there is a specific problem within its territory […] which makes it necessary to introduce the notified national measures.” The national limit of (equivalent) 44 mgCd/kgP2O5 (COM decision 2002/399) therefore remains in force today in Sweden.

The corrected list of Member States with derogations for national fertiliser cadmium limits lower than 60 mgCd/kgP2O5 is therefore as follows:

-  Denmark (COM decision 2020/1178) = equivalent to 48 mgCd/kgP2O5

-  Finland (COM decision 2006/D0348) = 22 mgCd/kgP2O5

-  Hungary (COM decision 2020/1184) = 20 mgCd/kgP2O5

-  Slovak Republic (COM decision 2020/1205) = 20 mgCd/kgP2O5

-  Sweden (COM decision 2002/399) equivalent to 44 mgCd/kgP2O5

EU partly lifts ban on feeding processed animal protein (PAP) to animals

It is now legal to feed processed animal protein (PAP) to non-ruminants (pigs, poultry), but the ban on feeding PAP of one species to the same species remains in place (intra-species). The PAP feed ban was put in place in 1994, in response to the ‘mad cow disease’ (bovine spongiform encephalopathy - BSE), which is thought to have been spread by the practice of supplementing feed for cattle with meat-and-bone meal which was not sufficiently sterilised to inactivate prions (the novel agent which causes BSE and is not a pathogen but a badly-folded brain protein, capable of causing other brain proteins to refold). Millions of cattle were culled because of BSE, and nearly 200 people died of the version transmissible to humans (a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), whereas it was initially feared that thousands or millions of people could be at risk. The European Commission justifies the decision to partially lift the PAP feed ban by the fact that other countries worldwide do not apply this, so that imported meat is unfairly advantaged compared to EU producers, and that 24 of the 26 EU Member States today have “negligible” BSE status (the UK’s last case of BSE was in 2016). The Commission states that the current ban causes some 100 000 tonnes/year of processed animal protein to be disposed as waste. The EU farmers’ federation COPA-COGECA states that PAP is an important source of phosphorus and highly digestible protein. The partial lift of the ban is expected to benefit insect protein. The published regulation runs to 17 pages of small print detailing production, use and transport conditions for PAP.

“EU lifts ban on feeding livestock processed animal protein (PAP)”, 1st September 2021

EU Regulation 2021/1372 “amending Annex IV to Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the prohibition to feed non-ruminant farmed animals, other than fur animals, with protein derived from animals”

 

Nutrient recycling

 

N2 Applied on the world’s radio

“Firing a bolt of plasma at slurry to break up toxic ammonia and climate-heating methane”. The BBC has featured (2 items) ESPP member N2 Applied’s innovative process to reduce manure emissions and improve nitrogen recycling. The report by BBC environmental analyst Roger Harrabin features an N2 installation at a dairy farm in Buckinghamshire UK, includes sniffing manure ‘before plasma’ “typically pungent” and ‘after plasma’ “uplifting smell of the seaside”. The N2 Applied process prevents ammonia and climate emissions from the manure, instead converting N into stable forms which are valuable fertiliser. N2 Applied has recently received 15 million € EU investment funds for roll out of its process.

“Artificial lightning zaps farm stink”, BBC 8th October 2021 https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58795272

BBC News, 7th October 2021, N2 Applied @ c. 42 mins.

BBC World Service News, 7th October 2021, N2 Applied @ c. 19 mins.

Video clip of the N2 Applied installation at Holly Green farm (Arla Innovation Farm) in UK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P76DMaldbuk

“N2 Applied gets $17m to turn livestock slurry into sustainable fertilizer”, 14th October 2021.

 

Glatt & Seraplant commission 30 000 t(ash)/y P-recycling plant

The PHOS4Green process reacts phosphoric acid with sewage sludge incineration ash to render the P in ash more plant available, combines with other nutrients, then produces granulated fertilisers, with part-recycled P content. The 20 million € plant commissioned at Haldesleben (between Hannover and Berlin, Saxonly-Anhalt) will take 30 000 t/y ash as input and produce 60 000 t/y fertiliser. Heavy metals, iron, aluminium, silica and other minerals present in the sewage sludge remain in the final product. The process generates no waste streams. the final product is compliant with the German fertiliser ordinance (DüMV)

“Produktion in erster deutscher PHOS4green-Anlage für Recyclingdünger ist gestartet”, 8th June 2021

Details of PHOS4Green process: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

Técnicas Reunidas announces contract for 40 000 t(ash)/y P-recycling plant

Following demonstration pilot trials, the Técnicas Reunidas Phos4Life technology has been selected by ZAR, Switzerland, to recover and recycle P from sewage sludge incineration ash at KEBAG’s site, Zuchwil, near Soluthurn. KEBAG AG Zuchwil collects and manages waste from half a million inhabitants in the cantons of Bern and Soluthurn. ZAR is the Foundation for Sustainable Waste and Resource Use. The Phos4Life process leaches ash with sulphuric acid, followed by filtration and separation of iron, aluminium and heavy metals by solvent extraction, to generate technical-grade phosphoric acid. The 40 000 t(ash)/y plant is planned for commissioning in 2026.

“Técnicas Reunidas wins two contracts in Switzerland for the use of proprietary technologies in circular economy projects.”, 21st June 2021

Details of Phos4Life process: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

25 million US$ for P sustainability research centre: STEPS

The US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance will help lead a major phosphorus research centre, with 9 US research institutes, to accelerate fundamental science and develop technologies and practices for sustainable P management. “Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability”, STEPS, is one of six new science and technology centres “to address vexing societal problems” announced by the US National Science Foundation and will receive a total of 25 million US$ in NSF funding over five years, with the possibility of a 5-year renewal. STEPS stems in part from the network of researchers launched in 2011 with the NSF P Sustainability Research Coordination Network RCN (SCOPE Newsletter n°125) and the practitioner network of the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance (SPA), with strong involvement of Jim Elser and Matt Scholz of SPA.

STEPS research is structured across three themes:

1: Human Technology Scale: physico-chemical materials and biologic material design to develop processes for capturing and releasing phosphorus species;

2: Regional and Global Scale: incorporation of these materials into structures and processes;

3: Convergence Informatics: modelling of phosphorus flows and management scenarios.

STEPS will include education - awareness and research – training actions.

STEPS is led by researchers from North Carolina State University, Arizona State University, the University of Illinois, Marquette University, RTI International, Appalachian State University, and the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.

“Alliance Helps Lead Major P Research Center”, 8 September 2021 LINK.

US National Science Foundation announcement.

STEPS: https://steps-center.org

 

Stay informed

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If you do not already receive SCOPE and eNews (same emailing list), subscribe at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/subscribe
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/european-sustainable-phosphorus-platform/           
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Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 3 2021

 

The European Commission has replied to ESPP that post-processing of digestates and composts (e.g. solid-liquid separation, stabilisation …) is not at present covered by the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) CMC criteria.

ESPP raised this question to DG GROW some time ago, because such post-processing will often be implemented to condition and prepare products to place on the European market, especially digestates. The Commission’s reply also confirms that processing additives used downstream of the anaerobic digester / composter are not considered as “composting /digestion additives” (as cited in CMCs3 and 5), e.g. polymers for solid-liquid separation, pH adjusters, granulation aids …

It is in ESPP’s view preferable to resolve such questions now, rather than have them being brought up during a control of a product already on the market after implementation of the FPR from June 2022.

The Commission has indicated to ESPP that amendment of CMCs 3-5 (Annex II of the FPR) could be considered to include (certain) post-processing routes, and that this will be discussed in the next EU Fertilisers Expert Group (of which ESPP is a member) in November 2021.

ESPP proposes to work with relevant federations and operators, to prepare a list of process routes and of additives used for post-processing of composts and digestates, and collate information for each one on how widespread is application and market relevance, product benefits, additives used, extent to which compost/digestate is or is not chemically modified by the process, …

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) 2019/2009

The US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance will help lead a major phosphorus research centre, with 9 US research institutes, to accelerate fundamental science and develop technologies and practices for sustainable P management. “Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability”, STEPS, is one of six new science and technology centres “to address vexing societal problems” announced by the US National Science Foundation and will receive a total of 25 million US$ in NSF funding over five years, with the possibility of a 5-year renewal. STEPS stems in part from the network of researchers launched in 2011 with the NSF P Sustainability Research Coordination Network RCN (SCOPE Newsletter n°125) and the practitioner network of the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance(SPA), with strong involvement of Jim Elser and Matt Scholz of SPA.

STEPS research is structured across three themes:

1: Human Technology Scale: physico-chemical materials and biologic material design to develop processes for capturing and releasing phosphorus species;

2: Regional and Global Scale: incorporation of these materials into structures and processes;

3: Convergence Informatics: modelling of phosphorus flows and management scenarios.

STEPS will include education - awareness and research – training actions.

STEPS is led by researchers from North Carolina State University, Arizona State University, the University of Illinois, Marquette University, RTI International, Appalachian State University, and the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.

“Alliance Helps Lead Major P Research Center”, 8 September 2021 LINK.

US National Science Foundation announcement.

STEPS: https://steps-center.org

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