SUBSCRIBE to our eNews and SCOPE Newsletter

 

Read earlier SCOPE and eNews editions.

The European Commission has published its third report towards criteria for using “By-Products” as Component Materials for EU fertilising products (CMC11, additives and CMC-WWfor comment by 16th August 2021, under the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/100). The 180-page document now proposes detailed criteria for which families of by-product would be eligible, with proposed quality/purity criteria, contaminant limits, process input material exclusions, etc. This will be discussed at the EU Fertilisers Expert Group 24-25 June, at which ESPP is represented.

The following summarises ESPP’s understanding of the JRC proposal after a first reading – it may not be correct. We will try to verify whether our understanding is correct and publish an updated summary and proposed comments and input in coming weeks.

The new proposal is significantly narrower than was suggested in March this year (CMC-WW initial proposal, see ESPP eNews n°53). ESPP’s request to widen to “derivates” (see ESPP eNews n°54), that is the eligible by-products can only be included in an EU fertilising product with no further chemical processing, they cannot be used as a precursor to produce other materials (note that by-products can be used as precursors in CMC1, but not if they have “waste” status).

The new JRC proposal is somewhat complex, with four different routes:

Routes (1) and (2) are subject to the requirements that (a) the material must be a “by-product” as defined under the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC, (b) Animal By-Products, polymers, compost and digestate are excluded, and (c) the material must be REACH registered (with conditions). For routes (1) and (2) a specific list of contaminant limits is defined.

(1) By-products from seven specified industrial processes: methionine, mineral ore processing (this category includes by-product gypsums and phosphogypsums), Solvay process, acetylene production, ferrous slags, specific metal treatments, humic/fulvic acids from drinking water treatment;

(2) (any) by-product used as a “technical additive” at <5% total in the final EU fertilising product.

Routes (3) and (4) are “CMC-WW High Purity Materials”, which was originally proposed in March this year (see ESPP eNews n°54). This proposal has been significantly narrowed and now covers ONLY mineral salts of ammonia, sulphur (inc. elemental sulphur), calcium carbonate or calcium oxide, subject to 95% purity and organic carbon < 0.5%. These mineral salts must also respect a detailed and extensive limits of contaminant limits, and must be REACH registered (with conditions). They can result from:

(3) any “production” process, to which inputs can be any material (chemicals, biomass, waste …) other than Animal By-Products

(4) gas purification from (to simplify): hygienised manure, livestock housing, storage of non-hygienised manure, non-hazardous wastes or any other material except Animal By-Products

European Commission JRC “Technical proposals for by-products and high purity materials as component materials for EU Fertilising Products. Interim report”, 14 June 2021 https://circabc.europa.eu/ui/group/36ec94c7-575b-44dc-a6e9-4ace02907f2f/library/785d1835-07b3-4b3c-a46a-e269a33c74c7/details

Comments are open to 16th August but can only be submitted via members of the EU Fertilisers Expert Group. Please therefore send all comments to ESPP  before 16th July, in order to enable them to be taken into account.

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews055
Download as PDF

Events
Nutrients, aquatic methane emissions and climate change: 22-27 June 2021
Future of Phosphorus Removal in Wastewater 2021

Policy
EU Zero Pollution Action Plan published
Amended EU Standards Mandate for fertilising products
EU sewage and sludge Directives update process
EU consultation on Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWT)
EU consultation on Algae Sector
EU policies could reduce phosphorus losses by 20%

Industry and technology
Ragn-Sells and Kemira join forces in phosphorus recycling from sewage sludge
Nitrate and other nutrient recycling from drinking water to fertigation

Research
“Legacy P” and field slope
Poland: climate change will impede water quality objectives
UNESCO report on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)
Aquatic methane emissions cost society 0.2 – 2.3 trillion US$/year globally
Economic policy instruments for P sustainability
English Channel: Atmospheric P deposition not biologically significant
Biochar improves soil P availability but only in some soils

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

Events 

Nutrients, aquatic methane emissions and climate change: 22-27 June 2021

ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography) Special Session (SS06) on Methane Accumulation in Oxic Aquatic Environments: Sources, Sinks and Subsequent Fluxes to The Atmosphere. Within the 2021 Aquatic Sciences Meeting (online, 22-27 June 2021). In partnership with the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and ASLO, ESPP and SPA will follow-up with a webinar to exchange between science, water stakeholders and policy makers on implications of aquatic methane emissions for nutrient management. Proposals for input are welcome.

ASLO special session on methane in oxic aquatic environments: https://www.aslo.org/2021-virtual-meeting/session-list/

Contact Mina Bizic

To contribute to the ESPP- SPA- IGB webinar: contact

 

Future of Phosphorus Removal in Wastewater 2021

7th July 2021, 10h30 - 16h30 CEST. Online conference will look at current status and future developments in phosphorus removal from wastewater, P-stewardship and P-recovery. Speakers include the UK Environment Agency, Isle Utilities, The Rivers Trust, several UK water companies, ESPP.

https://event.wwtonline.co.uk/phosphorus/

 

Policy

 

EU Zero Pollution Action Plan published

The European Commission has published its Zero Pollution Action Plan, part of the Green Deal, including proposed actions on nutrient loss reduction, nutrient recycling, sewage reuse, ammonia emissions as well as putting a price to pollution, actioning the polluter-pays principle and incentives for alternatives. The Plan is presented as a ”compass for including pollution prevention in all relevant EU policies”. The Zero Pollution Hierarchy is emphasised: 1) prevent pollution by clean-by-design production and the circular economy, 2) minimise releases and exposure, 3) eliminate and remediate. An emphasis is placed on stricter implementation and enforcement.

The Zero Pollution Targets for 2030 include reducing nutrient losses by 50% (specifying as compared to 2012-2015), as already set in both the Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity Strategies (see SCOPE Newsletter n°131).

The Plan states that this will be achieved by “implementing and enforcing the relevant environmental and climate legislation in full, identifying with Member States the nutrient load reductions needed to achieve these goals, applying balanced fertilisation and sustainable nutrient management, stimulating the markets for recovered nutrients and by managing nitrogen and phosphorus better throughout their lifecycle”. It will be promoted by the Mission ‘ Soil Health and Food’, and the agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP AGRI). The Mission ‘Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters’ will also address nutrients.

In order to make livestock farming more sustainable, the Commission will “facilitate the placing on the market of alternative feed materials and innovative feed additives”.

The need to further reduce ammonia emissions will be assessed, in particular from intensive livestock, possibly by actions under the Common Agricultural Policy or by “making manure handling blinding

The already engaged reviews of the Urban Waste Water Treatment and Sewage Sludge Directives will “increase the ambition level to remove nutrients from wastewater and make treated water and sludge ready for reuse, supporting more circular, less polluting farming. It will also address emerging pollutants such as microplastics and micropollutants, including pharmaceuticals”.

The announced Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (consultation expected later in 2021 see www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory) will maximise synergies between policies and use “the green architecture of the new common agricultural policy, especially via conditionality and eco-schemes”.

The annexed list of actions includes, for 2023, to “Compile and make accessible in a digital format all main obligations on nutrient management stemming from EU law to limit the environmental footprint of farming activities”.

European Commission “Pathway to a Healthy Planet for All. EU Action Plan: 'Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil”, SWD(2021)140 - SWD(2021)141, 12th May 2021 https://ec.europa.eu/environment/strategy/zero-pollution-action-plan_fr

 

Amended EU Standards Mandate for fertilising products

Proposed amendments to the mandate to CEN for standards to support the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation include different standards to determine P solubility in inorganic fertilisers, and composition and contaminants in STRUBIAS materials. Standards to assess total P2O5 content, water soluble, NAC, formic acid and citrate soluble P2O5+ are requested for inorganic, organic and organo-mineral fertilisers. Standards to assess dry matter and contents of organic carbon, P2O5, iron, aluminium and several contaminants and pathogens are requested for Precipitated Phosphate Salts or their Derivates, standards for various contaminants (inc. PAH16, PCDD/F-equiv are requested for ashes/ash derived products and for biochars, as well as H/C-org for biochars.

Document for consultation https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/45687 (Draft amendment to Commission Implementing Decision C(2020) 612 final of 10.2.2020 on a standardisation request to the European Committee for Standardisation as regards the EU fertilising products in support of Regulation (EU) 2019/1009). Comments by 16/6/2021 to

 

EU sewage and sludge Directives update process

A European Commission stakeholder workshop emphasised the need to address contaminants in sewage sludge (especially pharmaceuticals, microplastics, heavy metals and PFAS/PFOS) and showed support for regulatory mechanisms to support phosphorus recycling (blending obligation or % recycling requirement). The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) was evaluated in 2018, concluding “fit for purpose” but possibilities for improvements. The Sewage Sludge Directive (SSD) is currently undergoing evaluation. DG ENVI highlighted that the SSD is part of the Green Deal agenda, with objectives of climate neutrality, zero pollution and circular economy, and is cited in the EU Methane Strategy. A 2014 evaluation of the SSD concluded that it is “fit for purpose”. An aim of the current evaluation is to strengthen regulation of pollutants in sewage sludge. Two EU JRC projects were presented: modelling impacts of micropollutants in sewage sludge, assessing climate emissions impacts of UWWTD and SSD policies. Studies presented suggested that micropollutants present in sewage sludge may not pose adverse risk to soil, but that long term sludge use in agriculture led to levels of PFAS which could impact earthworms. The lack of information on microplastics was noted. The importance of source control, reducing or preventing input of contaminants into sewage where possible, was emphasised. Phosphorus and nitrogen recovery from sewage were discussed, with much stakeholder support expressed for phosphorus recycling policies such as a blending obligation (including a certain level of recycled P in fertilisers) or a % P-recycling requirement.

Trinomics, for European Commission DG Environment “Evaluation of the Sewage Sludge Directive 86/278/EEC” http://trinomics.eu/project/6515-sewage-sludge-directive-86-278-eec/

 

EU consultation on Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWT)

Open to 21 July 2021. This is a general public questionnaire, plus additional questions for experts and operators – you do not have to answer all questions. Questions ask what should be priorities for action (nutrients are one of seven proposed priorities), how to improve protection of nutrient “Sensitive Areas”, addressing micropollutants, circularity (proposals include recovery obligations for phosphorus and other materials).

“Water pollution – EU rules on urban wastewater treatment”, EU public consultation open to 21 July 2021.

EU consultation on Algae Sector

Open to 11 August 2021. Environmental footprint of algae and environmental benefits of algae products are addressed, as are impact on CO2, nutrients capture and bioremediation. The use of algae for waste treatment (e.g. nutrient removal from wastewater, CO2 or NOx abatement), and regulatory questions around such waste-fed algae (e.g. End-of-Waste) are not addressed, but can be added in the comments boxes.

“Public consultation on the EU Algae initiative”, EU public consultation open 11 August  2021.

 

EU policies could reduce phosphorus losses by 20%

A modelling study concludes that ambitious but technically feasible policy actions on municipal waste water treatment and on agricultural fertilisation could reduce total EU nitrogen and phosphorus losses to surface waters by -14% and -20% respectively. The study was led by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. This ambitious but technically feasible scenario (MTFR = High Technically Feasible Reduction) considers that all municipal sewage works are upgraded to the highest nutrient removal level (tertiary treatment with “enhanced” phosphorus removal) and agricultural fertilisation is set to limit nitrogen surplus to 10% of N in output, and P is reduced correspondingly. The study concludes that this would “only slightly” increase proportion of surface waters in good ecological status (as defined by the Water Framework Directive). The study notes that the resulting differential reductions in N and P losses could worsen nutrient unbalances in coastal waters. ESPP considers that the study shows that technically feasible actions on sewage treatment and agricultural fertilisation can significantly reduce nutrient losses, but that this reduction is much less than the -50% nutrient loss reduction target fixed by the EU Farm-to-Fork strategy (see SCOPE Newsletter n°139) and that a combination of other measures not assessed in this study will be needed for higher nutrient loss reductions and to achieve Water Framework Directive ecological quality objectives, for example: phosphorus traps and buffer strips in fields, morphological restauration of rivers, recreation of wetlands, treatment of discharges from small settlements and isolated households, treatment of stormwaters …

“How EU policies could reduce nutrient pollution in European inland and coastal waters?”, B. Grizzetti et al., Global Environmental Change

Volume 69, July 2021, 102281 DOI.

 

Industry and technology

 

Ragn-Sells and Kemira join forces in phosphorus recycling from sewage sludge

Kemira and Ragn-Sells’ daughter company EasyMining (both ESPP members) have announced a collaboration to recover phosphorus from sewage sludge at Kemira’s industrial site in Helsingborg. This means that EasyMining takes the next step and continues with the plans to build a plant for phosphorus recycling from 30,000 t/y of sewage sludge incineration ash to be operational in 2025. The patented Ash2Phos technology from EasyMining attacks the ash with hydrochloric acid, then uses purification processes to separate out a high-grade calcium phosphate which can technically be used in fertiliser production, animal feed (see ESPP eNews n°52), or the chemicals industry, recovering more than 90% of the phosphorus contained in the ash. The process can also recover iron and aluminium present in the ash separately for e.g. recycling by Kemira as a coagulant for chemical P-removal in sewage works. The new plant will create 30 jobs within Kemira’s Helsingborg industrial park, South West Sweden. Sewage sludge ash is expected to come from Sweden but also to be imported via the site’s maritime access. The project has been granted 5 M€ from Sweden’s climate fund (Klimatklivet).

“Ragn-Sells and Kemira jointly engage in phosphorus recycling from sewage sludge” - Kemira and Ragn-Sells Newsroom

 

Nitrate and other nutrient recycling from drinking water to fertigation

Agua DB has demonstrated a process to recover nitrate from drinking water nitrate removal, and recycle with K, S, Ca and Mg to local agriculture via fertigation. Ion-exchange is today widely used to remove nitrates from drinking water, but uses salt for regeneration. This generates a phytotoxic sodium nitrate brine, which has to be disposed, often via expensive truck transport. The Agua DB process uses water quality potash (KCl) for regeneration, instead of salt, in significantly lower quantities, so generating liquors rich in sulphate, nitrate and potassium, which can be used for fertigation in local agriculture. These can partially replace synthetic fertilisers and reduce use of potash by farmers, so reducing salination (Cl input) to farmland. A three months pilot project with Affinity Water (a UK drinking water company supplying 3.6 million people), showed effective nitrate removal down to 5 mgN/l.  Red Russian Kale was grown hydroponically with the fertigation liquor providing 60% of the required nutrients, showing performance comparable to synthetic nutrients and good nutrient density in the crop. Fertigation and application of N to soil as nitrate is suggested to have agronomic benefits including improved yields with reduced fertiliser application and run-off, more efficient use of water and the potential to link irrigation water storage schemes into flood mitigation measures. The technology could also be adapted for tertiary N-removal from sewage works and can be used in industry or desalination plants.

See presentation by Mike Waite at the AquaEnviro conference “The Art of the Possible: Resource Recovery from Wastewater and Bioresources”, May 18th 2021 and presentation here from 38 minutes.

Research

 

 

“Legacy P” and field slope

A study of an 8 ha field in SW Ontario, Canada, under maize – soy – alfalfa rotation shows that phosphorus accumulates over time in the lower parts of the field (“toe-slope” and “foot”). Soil was sampled once, in October (after harvest) at 50 sites, 10 in each of the slope classification areas (toe, foot, back, shoulder, summit). Toe and foot zones made up nearly 60% of the field area. Elevation of the field varied by about 4 m between the lowest point and the highest summit with slopes up to 15%. Results show topsoil thickness 40 -  50 % greater in foot and toe zones than in back, shoulder and summit, and mean organic carbon stock also 30 – 80 % higher. Soil Olsen-P stock showed even more pronounced accumulation in the lower parts of the field, at around 50 kg-OlsenP/ha in toe and foot zones, compared to around 20 kg/ha in summit zones. The authors conclude that soil erosion over time moves legacy P to the lower zones of the field, along with top soil, smaller soil particles and organic carbon. The study does not provide any indication as to how this local accumulation of P within the field might impact P losses to surface water.

“Spatial decoupling of legacy phosphorus in cropland: Soil erosion and deposition as a mechanism for storage”, A. VandenBygaart et al., Soil & Tillage Research 211 (2021) 105050 DOI.

 

 

Poland: climate change will impede water quality objectives

A study of 18 surface water bodies in Upper Sileasia, Southern Poland, climate change will both increase nutrient losses from soils and accentuate the impact on water quality of P and N loads because of longer low-flow periods. Upper Silesia is an urbanised (4 million population) and industrialised region, with many coal mines pumping mine water into rivers. Nutrient removal is already largely installed in sewage works, and mine discharge water is expected to be reduced in the future, which will result is less dilution of nutrients. Nutrient loss from farmland was estimated as 20% of P and 50% of N in manure (based on livestock numbers) and 20% of and 88% of N applied in mineral fertilisers. Estimates of current nutrient load to the water bodies suggest that reductions of up to 90% for both P and N are needed to achieve water quality objectives, with most P and N inputs coming from agriculture in the majority of the catchments. The authors conclude that climate change will worsen nutrient-related water quality problems, by increasing agricultural losses because of extreme precipitation events and longer low-flow periods (reduced dilution). The level of nutrient removal in sewage works will not be significantly further improved, so that other measures will be necessary, targeting agriculture, treatment of fish pond discharge, landscaping and water management (which could include use of mine water to increase flows during low-flow periods).

“Impacts of nitrogen and phosphorus loads from various sources on the quality of surface water bodies in the context of climate change – case study in Poland”, A. Hamerla & B. Konczak, APP Ecology and Env Res 19(2) 1033-1048, 2021 DOI

 

 

UNESCO report on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)

A first-ever UN report shows that nearly 10 000 ocean Harmful Algal Blooms were recorded worldwide over 33 years, and that impacts are increasing with rising seafood demand and coastal development. 109 scientists from 35 countries analysed over 9 500 HAB events including 7 million microalgae data points, of which nearly 290 000 toxic algae species occurrences, using the Harmful Algal Event Database (HAEDAT). The widely suggested idea that blooms are increasing with climate change is not confirmed, with blooms increasing in some areas of the world and decreasing or steady in others. Increases in reported HAB events are correlated to increased monitoring and increases in perception are probably related to increased aquacultural production and coastal development. Both Europe and the Mediterranean regions show an increase trend in reported HAB events over the study period (from 1985 to 2018), but possibly with an apparent peak around the year 2000 and after that a decrease in HAB events in the Mediterranean region and fluctuations without a clear increase in Europe (see Hallegraeff et al. Fig. 3 p. 5). A large proportion of the societal impact of blooms was resulting closure of shellfish harvesting, with only rare cases of human poisoning. Economic losses caused by HABs to aquaculture are considerable, whereas in the open ocean wild fish can simply swim away from HABs. The number of recorded HABs over time was strongly correlated with intensification of aquaculture, but this is probably largely due to more intense monitoring. Data on nutrient pollution is considered inadequate to reach conclusions as what extent aquaculture contributes to causing HABs.

Report published by UNESCO (United Nations) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Harmful Algal Blooms (IOC-IPHAB, part of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission), 8 June 2021 http://hab.ioc-unesco.org/index.php

Harmful Agal Bloom Information Portal: https://data.hais.ioc-unesco.org/

“Perceived global increase in algal blooms is attributable to intensified monitoring and emerging bloom impacts”, G. Hallegraeff et al., Nature Communications Earth & Environment (2021) 2:117 https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-021-00178-8

 

 

Aquatic methane emissions cost society 0.2 – 2.3 trillion US$/year globally

Methane emissions are estimated to represent c. 20% of greenhouse impact of fossil fuels and ¾ of climate change impact of lakes and reservoirs, and are increased by eutrophication (see SCOPE Newsletter n°137). Increasing eutrophication globally could increase lake and reservoir methane emissions to 38 – 58 % of current fossil fuel greenhouse impact by 2100. Societal costs of lake and reservoir methane emissions are estimated at 7 – 80 trillion US$ (total for the years 2015 – 2050), using US Government Interagency Working Group methodology. This does not include methane emissions from rivers, coastal waters and oceans, nor does it include other aquatic greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, N2O). The methodology was applied to Lake Erie, North America, to compare estimated societal costs of eutrophication impacts on leisure fishing or on beach closures (due to harmful algae blooms). The conclusion is that societal costs of eutrophication-driven methane emissions are an order of magnitude higher than either of these local societal costs, and also higher than the estimated cost of reducing nutrient inputs to the lake by 40% by changing agricultural practices. The study notes that are not here considered other local societal costs of eutrophication, in particular loss to property value and possible health risks from toxic algae blooms, but that the climate costs of methane emissions are nonetheless a very significant societal cost of eutrophication.

“Protecting local water quality has global benefits”, J. Downing et al., Nature Communications (2021), 12:2709, DOI.

NOTE: ASLO Special Session (SS06) on Methane Accumulation in Oxic Aquatic Environments, part of the ASLO 2021 Aquatic Sciences Meeting 22-27 June 2021 online - Website 

 

Economic policy instruments for P sustainability

A research paper suggests that fossil fuel and livestock cap-and-trade tools, combined with a livestock / land area ratio cap, would largely ensure sustainable phosphorus use. It is suggested that resulting energy price increases would reduce P fertiliser use, despite recognising that P-fertiliser production can have negative energy consumption, because of energy used to transport and spread fertilisers. It is not however considered that transport and application of organic and recycled fertilisers may use more energy (higher bulk, decentralised logistics). Cap-and-trade of livestock products would increase price and reduce consumption, so reducing need for P-fertiliser to produce animal feeds, including imported animal feed crops. These two tools would not however address regional livestock concentration, which results in regional nutrient excesses, and geographical distribution obstacles to recycling of manure nutrients. Limiting livestock numbers per land area would avoid regional livestock concentrations and could also be used to limit total national or EU livestock production. The paper also considers limiting total P-fertiliser consumption, e.g. by a certificate trading system for mineral P fertilisers placed on the EU market.

“Economic policy instruments for sustainable phosphorus management: taking into account climate and biodiversity targets”, B. Garske & F. Ekardt, Environ Sci Eur (2021) 33-56 DOI.

 

English Channel: Atmospheric P deposition not biologically significant

A study at a site on in the UK concludes that atmospheric phosphorus deposition to coastal water in the region is “unlikely to be biologically significant”. Aerosol-derived P deposition at the study site, on Cornwall coast, South UK, between the North Atlantic and the English Channel, was estimated at 0.16 – 1.6 µ-moles-P/m2/day, estimated to be consistently below 0.1% of water P standing stock. Atmospheric nitrogen deposition, on the other hand, was estimated to be significant, at 3 – 620 µ-moles-N/m2/day, contributing up to 20% of water DIN (dissolved inorganic nitrogen) in Spring, when water DIN levels are depleted by biological uptake. The atmospheric nitrogen input is estimated to contribute to up to 22% of primary algal growth at times in Spring. The study is based on aerosol samples collected at Penlee Point Atmospheric Observatory over six months, February to July 2015, corresponding to spring algal growth.

“Inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus in Western European aerosol and the significance of dry deposition flux into stratified shelf waters”, C. White et al., Atmospheric Environment, in print 2021, DOI.

 

Biochar improves soil P availability but only in some soils

A meta-analysis of published data suggests that biochar application improves soil P availability and on plant P uptake respectively +65% and +55% on average. This is not input of P in the biochar but an impact of the biochar on the soil – crop system. The study identified 516 data pairs (from 86 studies) comparing soil P availability or crop P uptake with or without biochar application. P availability data was mostly from laboratory soil incubation tests (175 data points) and pot trials (157) with also 106 field trials, whereas crop P uptake data was mostly from field trials (80) versus 72 pot trials. The most frequently tested biochars were from crop residue and wood (total 321 P availability data points), that is biochars which would contain relatively low levels of phosphorus, versus 98 for manure biochar and only 7 for sewage sludge biochar. The mean effects of biochar on soil P availability and on plant P uptake were respectively +65% and +55%, that is higher than biochar effects on N or C reported elsewhere from biochar application. However, the data suggested that biochar showed considerably greater effects on P availability and uptake in very low phosphorus soils, acid soils (pH < 5) and in heavy textured soils. Also, effects were greater for biochars pyrolysed below 300°C. ESPP note: this temperature limit poses questions in that other studies suggest that temperatures >400°C may be necessary to remove organic pollutants and antibiotic resistance genes in pyrolysis (see ESPP eNews n°s 52 and 54)

“Could biochar amendment be a tool to improve soil availability and plant uptake of phosphorus? A meta-analysis of published experiments”, F. Tesfaye et al., Environmental Science and Pollution Research 2021 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/            Twitter: @phosphorusfacts         
Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 1 2021

 

Murphy Ireland and Ostara have announced construction of a new Ostara Pearl® struvite recovery installation, with WASSTRIP®, as part of the upgrade of Irish Water’s Ringsend waste water treatment plant to 2.4 million p.e. capacity and conversion to biological phosphorus removal. Struvite production should start in 2023. Ringsend treats around 40% of Ireland’s wastewater and discharges into the nutrient Sensitive Area, Lower Liffey Estuary and Dublin Bay.

“Ostara and Murphy Partner to deliver part of Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade Project for Irish Water”, 28th April 2021 press release.

Two significant projects to “mine” phosphate from secondary resources in Sweden were presented at the Nordic Circular Materials Conference: 21-22 April 2021. In both cases, the projects will extract phosphate from apatite minerals (phosphate rock family) present in tailings of from iron ore mining, either from operating iron production sites or from stocked tailings from closed mines. The apatite is mainly rare earth element substituted fluorapatite, e.g. monazite, low in cadmium and arsenic, and the extraction of the rare earths with the phosphate will enable economic viability.

Ulrika Håkansson, LKAB, presented the company’s project treating ore tailings from iron mines in Kiruna and Malmberget. LKAB’s objective is to be operational by 2027, producing c. 50 000 tP/year (five times Sweden’s mineral P fertiliser consumption), as apatite concentrate, and c. 30% of EU rare earth needs.

Christer Lindqvist presented the Grängesberg Apatite Recovery Project, which aims to recover apatite from stocked tailings of the Grangesberg iron mine (John Matts dam), which was the world’s biggest iron ore producer in the nineteenth century. The following rare earth elements will be produced: Y, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Tb, Eu. Production will be around 13 000 tP/y, with the aim of starting within 3-4 years. The stocked tailings will support around seven years production, and this may be extended with a project to re-open the iron ore mine

Slides
 from Nordic Circular Materials Conference
LKAB secondary P-mining project: www.ree-map.com
Grängesberg Exploration Holding AB https://grangesbergexploration.se/

A review of around 100 scientific publications concludes that eutrophication significantly increases greenhouse gas emissions from freshwaters (CO2, methane, N2O). An increase of 5 µg/l of chlorophyll-a in lakes and reservoirs worldwide would result in an increase of GHG emissions equivalent to >6% of fossil fuel CO2.

The current GHG emissions from freshwaters worldwide are estimated to be equivalent to >30% of global fossil fuel CO2 emissions (56% from freshwater CO2 release, 40% from methane, 4% from N2O).

Eutrophic shallow lakes are estimated to emit nearly 50% more methane than comparable non-eutrophic lakes. Eutrophication increases organic matter production in fresh waters, but it is unclear whether the resulting net CO2 uptake will compensate for increased methane production, because the organic matter produced is readily degradable. Increased nitrogen loading to surface waters can cause them to shift from being N2O sinks to net N2O emitters. Eutrophication also increases freshwater GHG emissions indirectly, for example, by shifting from vegetation dominated by macrophytes to algae, whereas macrophyte roots tend to reduce methane production by moving oxygen to sediments. Also, cyanobacteria readily produce methane even in the oxic water zone, both at day and at night.

The review also shows that climate change is expected to significantly increase freshwater GHG emissions and eutrophication (see also ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°137 on climate change and eutrophication), with positive feedback loops. Increasing temperatures will increase release of nutrients from sediments (accelerated mineralisation), as will extreme climate events (remobilisation of sediments). Both will also lead to increased nutrient losses from land to freshwaters. Increased temperatures may also favour methane production in freshwaters, rather than methane consumption.

This review confirms that policy makers need to further reduce nutrient inputs to surface waters, both because climate change will increase eutrophication risks, and because freshwater eutrophication contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

“The role of freshwater eutrophication in greenhouse gas emissions: A review”, Y. Li et al., Science of the Total Environment 768 (2021) 144582 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144582

Some 280 participants took part in the EBA – ECN webinar on 28th April.

David Wilken, German Biogas Association, presented conclusions of the EBA – ECN European survey on perspectives for CE-marking of compost and biogas under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR), when it enters into implementation in July 2022. The survey received over 100 answers from 21 countries. A large majority of respondents considered that the future CE-mark will be relevant for composts and digestates, in particular as a route to obtaining End-of-Waste status and better marketability, although many do not expect it to bring higher sales revenue and most expect it to involve significant administrative burdens and costs (in particular for conformity assessment). Most respondents consider that digestate will need some process of upgrading to achieve FPR criteria (CMC5), e.g. composting of digestate, drying, liquid/solid separation. Manure is seen as a very relevant input material, as well as sewage sludge (which is however excluded from EU FPR composts and digestates), as well as a wide range of other materials.

Theodora Nikolakopoulou, DG GROW, addressed a range of questions concerning application of the FPR to composts and digestates : manures and animal-by products as inputs – do they have to be pasteurised upstream of composting/digestion?; multiplication of conformity assessments if one compost producer supplies several fertiliser producers; definition of “sludge”; additives used upstream of the digestion process (e.g. flocculation agents) – must be declared as a distinct CMC; demonstrating conformity to PAH limits – does not necessarily mean testing …

Digestate valorisation under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, webinar, 28 April 2021 here. Links to slides and conference report.

Open to 21 July 2021. The consultation document notes that the 2019 evaluation of the 1991 UWWTD concluded that it is largely fit for purpose, but some aspects need to be improved, and updates should align with Green Deal environment and climate objectives. The consultation is a general public questionnaire, plus additional questions for experts and operators – you do not have to answer all questions. General questions ask what you see as important risks from municipal wastewater, key mitigation actions, priorities for action (nutrients are one of seven proposed priorities), how to improve protection of nutrient “Sensitive Areas”, addressing micropollutants, circularity (proposals include recovery obligations for phosphorus and other materials).

In particular, the question (p32 of the questionnaire in PDF) “How appropriate are the following proposed measures for building a more circular waste water treatment sector?” offers the option “Setting minimum levels for recovering phosphorous and other materials” (please NOTE: ‘5’ = important). ESPP will propose, under comments to this question, to Include materials from wastewater as a priority stream for development of EU End-of-Waste criteria under the Circular Economy Action Plan.

“Water pollution – EU rules on urban wastewater treatment”, Eu public consultation open to 21 July 2021.

The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) is postponed (because of Covid). New dates are 20-22 June 2022 in Vienna. PERM, the European Phosphorus Research Meeting will be held virtually 2nd June 2021.

Updates: see www.phosphorusplatform.eu and https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews054
Download as PDF 

4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM)
Registration now open!

Events
AquaEnviro Wastewater Resource Recovery Conference: 18 May 2021
SYSTEMIC: nutrients from biowaste, 27 May 2021
4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM): 2 June 2021
IFA plant nutrition innovation conference: 8-10 June 2021
Nutrients, aquatic methane emissions and climate change: 22-27 June 2021
New dates for ESPC4: 20-22 June 2022

Policy

EU consultation on Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWT)
Joint action for End-of-Waste status for materials recycled from wastewaters
“Environmental Hazard Potential” of the CRM “Phosphate Rock”
Sewage Sludge Directive revision workshop
Safe recycling of nutrients to animal feed
European Parliament on Circular Economy

Fertilising Products Regulations

Digestate and compost in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation
France proposes “half waste” status for sewage sludge composts
Manure and Animal By Products in “STRUBIAS”
ESPP proposals for “CMC-WW”

Industry

Florida: state of emergency for disused phosphogypsum pond
New phosphate production planned in Sweden
Irish Water and Ostara to produce 14 t/day of struvite
Benefits of struvite

CRU Phosphates Conference 2021

Global phosphate market outlook
New EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FRP)
Fertiliser market trends in Europe
How EU policies will influence phosphorus use
EasyMining phosphorus recycling
Glatt PHOS4green
Phosphoric acid from low-grade phosphate rock
P4: outlook for a Critical Raw Material

Recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

RELACS: recycled nutrients in Organic Farming
Environment and health
Perspectives for acceptance of recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

Research

Eutrophication significantly increases greenhouse emissions
Biochar pyrolysis removes antibiotic resistance genes
Differing positions on sewage sludge use in agriculture
Phosphate fertiliser value of dairy processing sludges

Stay informed


ESPP members

 

4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM)

Registration now open!

Online, 2nd June 2021

Event web page: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/PERM4
Registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0qcOmrrjouEtRlibbtiMrcZVSKb4MEvYyc


eu green week partner event

Events

AquaEnviro Wastewater Resource Recovery Conference: 18 May 2021

One day conference on resource recovery from wastewaters and biosolids, covering nutrient recovery, hydrogen and other materials: experience from pilot and full scale plants; market pull, user confidence and business models, regulatory framework, links to net zero carbon 2030 agenda for the UK wastewater industry.
“The Art of the Possible: Resource Recovery from Wastewater and Bioresources”, May 18th 2021 online  https://conferences.aquaenviro.co.uk/events/conferences/resource-recovery-from-wastewater/

 

 

SYSTEMIC: nutrients from biowaste, 27 May 2021

Webinar “Enabling a Circular Economy: How to encourage a viable agricultural market for nutrients recovered from biowaste”, with William Neale, Advisor, European Commission DG Environment, Jan Huitema, Member of the European Parliament, Ludwig Hermann, Proman and ESPP President, Oscar Schoumans, Wageningen University and Research, Annabelle Williams, European Landowners Association.
SYSTEMIC (Horizon 2020 project) webinar, Thursday 27th May: 13h30-15h30 CEST Registration

 

 

 

4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM): 2 June 2021

This meeting, co-organised by ESPP, Biorefine Cluster Europe and ETA Renewable Energies, will link science, industry, agriculture and policy makers. EU-funded projects on nutrient sustainability and phosphorus recycling (Horizon2020, Interreg, LIFE…) and national and company nutrient projects will present, enabling dialogue and synergies. PERM will address how to improve uptake of project recommendations by policy makers and users, through to market, and identify perspectives for research and policy, and implementation gaps.

In parallel to PERM, ESPP is updating our online ‘inventory’ of nutrient-related R&D projects here.
PERM4 – online – 2nd June 2021: event website: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/PERM4
Registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0qcOmrrjouEtRlibbtiMrcZVSKb4MEvYyc
Proposals are welcome for presentations of studies into what factors in nutrient R&D projects improve uptake of conclusions by policy makers, industry and users.
If you wish your project to be included in the programme and/or added to the inventory of nutrient R&D projects, please contact

 

 

IFA plant nutrition innovation conference: 8-10 June 2021

The global fertiliser industry (International Fertilizer Association) “Smart & Green” conference will bring together scientists, industry and start-up technologies around controlled-release and stabilised fertilisers, biostimulants, incentivising and funding fertiliser innovation, digital fertiliser management, organic fertilisers and nutrient recycling.
IFA Smart & Green “where tech meets plant nutrition”, 8-10 June, online here.

 

 

Nutrients, aquatic methane emissions and climate change: 22-27 June 2021

ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography) Special Session (SS06) on Methane Accumulation in Oxic Aquatic Environments: Sources, Sinks and Subsequent Fluxes to The Atmosphere. Within the 2021 Aquatic Sciences Meeting (online, 22-27 June 2021). In partnership with the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and ASLO, ESPP and SPA will follow-up with a webinar to exchange between science, water stakeholders and policy makers on implications of aquatic methane emissions for nutrient management. Proposals for input are welcome.
ASLO special session on methane in oxic aquatic environments: https://www.aslo.org/2021-virtual-meeting/session-list/
Contact Mina Bizic
To contribute to the ESPP- SPA- IGB webinar: contact

 

 

New dates for ESPC4: 20-22 June 2022

The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) is postponed (because of Covid). New dates are 20-22 June 2022 in Vienna. PERM, the European Phosphorus Research Meeting will be held virtually 2nd June 2021, see below.
Updates: see www.phosphorusplatform.eu and https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

 

Policy

 

EU consultation on Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWT)

Open to 21 July 2021. The consultation document notes that the 2019 evaluation of the 1991 UWWTD concluded that it is largely fit for purpose, but some aspects need to be improved, and updates should align with Green Deal environment and climate objectives. The consultation is a general public questionnaire, plus additional questions for experts and operators – you do not have to answer all questions. General questions ask what you see as important risks from municipal wastewater, key mitigation actions, priorities for action (nutrients are one of seven proposed priorities), how to improve protection of nutrient “Sensitive Areas”, addressing micropollutants, circularity (proposals include recovery obligations for phosphorus and other materials).

In particular, the question (p32 of the questionnaire in PDF) “How appropriate are the following proposed measures for building a more circular waste water treatment sector?” offers the option “Setting minimum levels for recovering phosphorous and other materials” (please NOTE: ‘5’ = important). ESPP will propose, under comments to this question, to Include materials from wastewater as a priority stream for development of EU End-of-Waste criteria under the Circular Economy Action Plan.
“Water pollution – EU rules on urban wastewater treatment”, Eu public consultation open to 21 July 2021.

 

 

Joint action for End-of-Waste status for materials recycled from wastewaters

Over 120 (to date) industry and public water operator federations, companies and research institutes, have signed a joint letter to the European Commission requesting that materials recovered from wastewaters be included in the priority streams for development of EU End-of-Waste criteria, currently being defined under the EU Circular Economy Action Plan. Further organisations are still welcome to join this initiative and sign the letter (see below).

Recycled materials suggested include algae or plant biomass grown using wastewater; fibres, fatty acids, proteins, gums, fats and oils; phosphates and other chemicals or minerals for industrial applications (the route to EU End-of-Waste status for fertiliser applications already exists via the EU Fertilising Products Regulation); CO2; grit and sand. The request was initiated by ESPP and signatories to date include Eureau (European Federation of National Associations of Water Services), Aqua Publica Europea (European Association of Public Water Operators), EABA (European Algae Biomass Association), Biorefine Cluster Europe, Water Alliance Netherlands, AquaMinerals BV, ACR+ (Association of Cities and Regions for sustainable Resource management) …
Further signatory organisations are welcome: contact
The joint letter can be consulted here: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

 

“Environmental Hazard Potential” of the CRM “Phosphate Rock”

The final report (Task 2) to the European Commission for preparation of the new working plan for the Ecodesign Directive proposes as a new horizontal Ecodesign initiative “Scarce materials and critical raw materials”, because “very relevant in relation to the circular economy action plan and also in relation to the individual product’s lifecycle”.

Phosphate Rock, which is on the EU Critical Raw Materials list, is identified to have “High EHP” (Environmental Hazard Potentials). This is based on Dehoust et al. 2020 (UBA report).

Dehoust classifies Phosphate Rock as medium concern for governance, but high impact for global material and energy flow and for aggregated Environmental Hazard Potentials. The latter is based on suggested medium EHP for heavy metals, accidental hazards due to landslides etc, water stress and deserts, protected areas and governance, but high for association with radioactivity, surface mining and use of chemicals in processing (acids, flotation). This seems to indicate in some cases misinformation, for example acid used in processing phosphate rock is systematically a by-product. The report concludes that Phosphate Rock is “environmentally critical”.

The EU Critical Raw Material “Phosphorus”, that is P4, is not considered in the Ecodesign report, which is inappropriate in that P4 and P4-derivatives are essential for e.g. electronics manufacture and plastics fire safety, both of which are necessary for many energy using products addressed by EU Ecodesign criteria. This may be because “Phosphorus” (P4) is not considered in the Dehoust / UBA document.
Task 2 “Identification of product groups and horizontal measures”, final draft, March 2021.
Task 3 “Preliminary analysis of product groups and horizontal initiatives”, “Scarce and environmentally critical raw materials”, draft, February 2021.
https://www.ecodesignworkingplan20-24.eu/
“Environmental Criticality of Raw Materials, An assessment of environmental hazard potentials of raw materials from mining and recommendations for an ecological raw materials policy”, G. Dehoust et al., UBA TEXTE 80/2020 https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/sites/default/files/medien/1410/publikationen/2020-06-17_texte_80-2020_oekoressii_environmentalcriticality-report_.pdf

 

 

Sewage Sludge Directive revision workshop

A stakeholder workshop organised for the European Commission (20-21 April, online, over 270 participants) addressed the revision of the EU Sewage Sludge Directive (SSD) 86/278/EEC. The European Commission, DG Environment, explained that the objectives of this Directive, in the 1980’s, were to encourage the recycling of sewage sludge to agriculture and to ensure safety. The 2014 evaluation of the SSD here concluded that it is effective in returning carbon to soil, but inadequate for promoting the Circular Economy, or for controlling pollutants other than heavy metals, and that a number of Member States have today stricter rules. The 2019 evaluation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive concluded that better account should be taken of energy use and greenhouse emissions related to wastewater treatment, and that materials recovery and safe use should be promoted by the SSD. The revision of the SSD should also take into account the EU soil and pharmaceuticals strategies.

Workshop presentations included:

  • Alberto Pistocchi, European Commission JRC, modelling toxicity risks of sewage sludge to surface waters and soil and concentrations of micropollutants in soil, crops and humans;
  • Rachel Hurley, NIVA, microplastics in sewage sludge and in soils, and trnasfer to surface waters;
  • Aoife Kyne, Irish Water and Anders Finnson, Swedish Water Association, quality standards systems for sewage biosolids and actions to reduce pollutants at source;
  • Christian Kabbe, EasyMining, different routes for phosphorus recovery;
  • Bertrand Vallet, Eureau, valorisation of sewage biosolids beyond agriculture, such as greening of disused mines or ski slopes;
  • Dries Huyguens, JRC, direct and indirect greenhouse emissions from sewage treatment: energy use, NOx emissions, chemicals use, on-site renewable energy, displaced emissions from nutrient or materials recovery;
  • Jóannes Jørgen Gaard, consultant to the Denmark Environment Ministry, significance of NOx emissions in sewage treatment and opportunities for reducing these.

Workshop conclusions, after breakout sessions, suggested that safe reuse of sewage biosolids in agriculture and recovery of secondary raw materials remain Circular Economy priorities, conform to Green Deal objectives, with possibilities also for biosolids reuse in land reclamation, for which standards should be defined. A priority is reduction of contaminants at source. There is a high potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in wastewater treatment, with questions on how and where to define greenhouse emissions objectives.

Possible policy measures proposed include permitting of emissions to sewers of sectors such as car-washes or hair salons, tracking contaminants to source, chemicals and product policies to avoid pollution at source, minimum recovery requirements for phosphorus and for other materials, and water reuse.
European Commission Sewage Sludge Directive web page and evaluation web page.

  

 

Safe recycling of nutrients to animal feed

The EU Animal Feed Regulation 767/2009 (art. 6(1) and annex II $1 and $5) excludes materials derived from wastewaters or manures irrespective of treatment or processing. Interpretation of this could pose problems for several recycling routes. For example, if phosphoric acid is recovered from sewage sludge incineration ash, it could be considered that this should not be placed on the commodity chemicals market or only with traceability indicating “not to be used in production of animal feed”.

ESPP has consulted operators and identified three relevant recycling routes, and has proposed to the European Commission to address these appropriately in order to lift potential obstacles to the Circular Economy:

  • Phosphate chemicals recovered from ashes after incineration of sewage sludge or manure. Such chemicals can be used directly as animal feed (e.g. calcium phosphates) or sold as commodity chemicals (e.g. phosphoric acid). In that this is via ash, there should be no safety risk (incineration will eliminate pathogens).
  • Nitrogen chemicals from ammonium gas stripping of sewage, manure or digestates, placed on the market as commodity chemicals. Evidence may need to be gathered to prove that pathogens are not transferred through the gas stripping and chemical processing.
  • Algae or other biomass using wastewater or manure as growth medium: case specific safety assessment may be necessary.

ESPP’s letter is supported by a table detailing relevant processes, uses of recovered products, status of implementation and safety questions. Comments and input are welcome.
ESPP letter to the European Commission (DG SANTE), 7th May 2021, and supporting table: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

  

 

European Parliament on Circular Economy

The European Parliament has voted a resolution on the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan. Parliament calls for binding EU targets to reduce material and consumption footprints and harmonised circularity indicators. Parliament calls for investigation of the sources, fate and effects of micro-plastics in wastewater treatment and for equipping new washing machines with microfibre filters. For the Key Product Value Chain “Food, Water and Nutrients”, Parliament calls for action to reduce food waste, separate collection of bio-waste, increased replacement of fossil materials with renewable bio-based materials, measures to close the agricultural nutrient loop, reduction of EU dependency on imported vegetable protein for animal feed and increased recycling of animal manure and other organic nutrients. Parliament calls for a circular approach in waste water treatment and “highlights that resources can be recovered from wastewater, ranging from cellulose via bioplastics to nutrients, energy and water”.
European Parliament, 10th February 2021, resolution P9_TA(2021)0040 on the New Circular Economy Action Plan https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2021-02-10_EN.html

 

 

 

 

Fertilising Products Regulations

 

Digestate and compost in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation

Some 280 participants took part in the EBA – ECN webinar on 28th April.

David Wilken, German Biogas Association, presented conclusions of the EBA – ECN European survey on perspectives for CE-marking of compost and biogas under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR), when it enters into implementation in July 2022. The survey received over 100 answers from 21 countries. A large majority of respondents considered that the future CE-mark will be relevant for composts and digestates, in particular as a route to obtaining End-of-Waste status and better marketability, although many do not expect it to bring higher sales revenue and most expect it to involve significant administrative burdens and costs (in particular for conformity assessment). Most respondents consider that digestate will need some process of upgrading to achieve FPR criteria (CMC5), e.g. composting of digestate, drying, liquid/solid separation. Manure is seen as a very relevant input material, as well as sewage sludge (which is however excluded from EU FPR composts and digestates), as well as a wide range of other materials.

Theodora Nikolakopoulou, DG GROW, addressed a range of questions concerning application of the FPR to composts and digestates : manures and animal-by products as inputs – do they have to be pasteurised upstream of composting/digestion?; multiplication of conformity assessments if one compost producer supplies several fertiliser producers; definition of “sludge”; additives used upstream of the digestion process (e.g. flocculation agents) – must be declared as a distinct CMC; demonstrating conformity to PAH limits – does not necessarily mean testing …
Digestate valorisation under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, webinar, 28 April 2021 here. Links to slides and conference report.

 

 

ESPP proposals for “CMC-WW”

As indicated I ESPP eNews n°53, the European Commission has proposed a new Component Material Category for the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, “CMC-WW”, open to any by-product coming from a “production process” or from a gas processing / gas emissions control process” which offers “high purity” and does not contain specified contaminants. ESPP has input proposals suggesting that:

  • CMC-WW should be extended to “and derivates”, that is authorise use of such by-products as precursors for producing fertilising materials (not only use directly as such). E.g. by-product sulphuric acid used in phosphate fertiliser production, but not used itself in fertilisers.
  • Not require testing for a contaminant if there is no reason for it to be present
  • Replace the concept of “high purity” by safety requirements

ESPP submitted list of possible candidate materials for CMC-WW, collated from stakeholders, including: ammonium and sulphur compounds from gas cleaning, sulphur from oil refining, wax by-products, spent acids, ammonium salts from fire extinguisher refurbishment, mineral salts from waste incinerator ashes, by-products from drinking water production, PHBV from fatty acid fermentation, vivianite, nutrient residues from wood bioethanol production …
ESPP proposals to the European Commission on CMC-WW for by-products in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

France proposes “half waste” status for sewage sludge composts

The French Government seems to be proposing a new legal status for composts and digestates containing sewage biosolids, manure, biowaste, etc. fulfilling the AFNOR NFU 44 095 standard (that is recognition as a French ‘national’ fertiliser product). These organic fertilisers would have “Waste” (not “Product”) status, but could be placed on the market and would NOT be subject to a spreading plan (the producer is responsible “until they are used by the farmer”).

The proposed decree would establish three categories A1 (“Product”), A2 = all composts and digestates containing sewage sludge, manure, food waste, etc (“Waste”, but not subject to waste spreading plan) and B (“Waste”, subject to spreading plan).

The official Opinion of the French national agency for health, food, environment etc. (ANSES) states that “the concept of these three categories is not intuitive and their appropriation is not immediate and the whole decree has to be read to understand the distinction” (20 pages!).

It is unclear to ESPP whether this “half-waste” status (waste, but not subject to waste management plan) is conform to European regulation (Waste Framework Directive). Also, if the producer responsibility stops when the A2 materials are spread on a field, given that they are spread as a “waste”, presumably the legal responsibility is transferred to each farmer, which is unlikely to be welcome.

 

 

Manure and Animal By Products in “STRUBIAS”

After consultation of stakeholders and operators, ESPP has written to the European Commission (SANTE and GROW) proposing approaches to the currently outstanding question of use of manure or other Animal By Products (ABPs) in “STRUBIAS” materials under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR), that is struvite and precipitated phosphates, ash-derived materials, pyrolysis and biochars.

The technically-finalised “STRUBIAS” criteria authorise the use of certain ABPs (inc. manure) as inputs for the three STRUBIAS categories, but only if ABP End Point “has been determined”. In order to move this forward, ESPP proposes:

  • For ashes and ash-derived materials: ABP ash is already today widely used as fertiliser (e.g. poultry litter ash) so determining this ABP End Point should be a priority. In that the incineration combustion conditions defined in the STRUBIAS ash criteria are those recognised in the ABP Regulations as ensuring safety, this should be rapidly possible without requiring any data collection or risk assessment.
  • For precipitated phosphates: there appears to be only one installation recovering struvite or precipitated phosphates (of STRUBIAS quality) from manure or ABPs in Europe (NuTriSep Geltz, Germany). Most manure struvite projects recover from digestate, where the digestor can already ensure the ABP End Point. ESPP therefore proposes no further action for this STRUBIAS category at present.
  • For biochars: ESPP notes that the JRC report concluded that the pyrolysis conditions defined under STRUBIAS will ensure elimination of pathogens. ESPP requests that EFSA be mandated to define an ABP End Point for STRUBIAS biochars and pyrolysis materials.

ESPP letter to the European Commission on “Animal By Product End Points for EU Fertilising Products Regulation STRUBIAS materials”, 16th April 2021 www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory
STRUBIAS criteria, as published for the public consultation February 2021
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12136-Pyrolysis-and-gasification-materials-in-EU-fertilising-products
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12162-Thermal-oxidation-materials-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12163-Precipitated-phosphate-salts-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products

 

 

Industry

 

Florida: state of emergency for disused phosphogypsum pond

Up to 1.8 billion litres of polluted water are being released from a disused phosphate fertiliser factory’s 31 ha phosphogypsum pond, at Piney Point, near Tampa, Florida. The State Governor has declared a state of emergency and evacuated 300 households because the pond walls risk collapse, after starting to leak. The fertiliser factory was operated from 1966 to 1999. Media reports suggest that problems with the pond walls have been known for nearly 20 years. The water released from the pond contains phosphorus and nitrogen which will contribute to eutrophication of Tampa Bay and environmental NGOs have warned of risks of red tide algal blooms. The phosphogypsum in the pond also contains radioactive elements, but the Florida authorities say that levels in released water meet quality standards.
The Guardian UK, 4th April 2021, and other media online.

 

New phosphate production planned in Sweden

Two significant projects to “mine” phosphate from secondary resources in Sweden were presented at the Nordic Circular Materials Conference: 21-22 April 2021. In both cases, the projects will extract phosphate from apatite minerals (phosphate rock family) present in tailings of from iron ore mining, either from operating iron production sites or from stocked tailings from closed mines. The apatite is mainly rare earth element substituted fluorapatite, e.g. monazite, low in cadmium and arsenic, and the extraction of the rare earths with the phosphate will enable economic viability.

Ulrika Håkansson, LKAB, presented the company’s project treating ore tailings from iron mines in Kiruna and Malmberget. LKAB’s objective is to be operational by 2027, producing c. 50 000 tP/year (five times Sweden’s mineral P fertiliser consumption), as apatite concentrate, and c. 30% of EU rare earth needs.

Christer Lindqvist presented the Grängesberg Apatite Recovery Project, which aims to recover apatite from stocked tailings of the Grangesberg iron mine (John Matts dam), which was the world’s biggest iron ore producer in the nineteenth century. The following rare earth elements will be produced: Y, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Tb, Eu. Production will be around 13 000 tP/y, with the aim of starting within 3-4 years. The stocked tailings will support around seven years production, and this may be extended with a project to re-open the iron ore mine
Slides from Nordic Circular Materials Conference
LKAB secondary P-mining project: www.ree-map.com
Grängesberg Exploration Holding AB https://grangesbergexploration.se/

 

 

Irish Water and Ostara to produce 14 t/day of struvite

Murphy Ireland and Ostara have announced construction of a new Ostara Pearl® struvite recovery installation, with WASSTRIP®, as part of the upgrade of Irish Water’s Ringsend waste water treatment plant to 2.4 million p.e. capacity and conversion to biological phosphorus removal. Struvite production should start in 2023. Ringsend treats around 40% of Ireland’s wastewater and discharges into the nutrient Sensitive Area, Lower Liffey Estuary and Dublin Bay.
“Ostara and Murphy Partner to deliver part of Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade Project for Irish Water”, 28th April 2021 press release.

 

Benefits of struvite

An article by Ostara in World Fertilizer provides an accessible summary of different benefits of recycling phosphorus from sewage as struvite, as operational with 22 commercial Ostara reactors running worldwide. The paper outlines the Planetary Boundary challenge for phosphorus and summarises environmental footprint study data comparing recovered struvite to production of mineral phosphate fertiliser (“emergy” approach, see ESPP eNews 35). Agronomic benefits of struvite are also outlined. Because struvite is crop-available (soluble in weak organic acids) but it is not water soluble, there is no risk of burning germinating crops, lower osmotic stress on soil micro-organisms, and reduced risks of phosphorus run-off to surface waters. Trials have shown that a combination of struvite and mineral fertiliser can increase yield and crop quality in potatoes, above standard fertiliser practice.
“Greener Cycle”, R. Leatherwood & R. van Springelen, Ostara, World Fertilizer, March 2021 http://bit.ly/3vf9ZFG

 

CRU Phosphates Conference 2021

“Phosphates 2021”, the only annual global event for the phosphate mining, processing, phosphorus chemicals and phosphate fertiliser industries, brought together some 560 delegates, online, 23-25 March 2021. The online format increased attendance by +50% compared to previous physical conferences.
https://www.phosphates2021.com/

 

Global phosphate market outlook

Chris Lawson and Glen Kurokawa of CRU outlined current world market trends for phosphates. After falling from around 2012 to end 2019, prices have risen rapidly since 2020, and are back to their 2012 levels (but still less than half the peak prices reached in 2008-2009). This recent increase mirrors increases in agricultural crop prices, and is driven by high world phosphorus demand (including in China, despite a long-term trend to better P efficiency here), low stocks, Covid supply disruption and specific impacts of new import tariffs for the USA.

CRU consider however that the current price level will not be sustained because increases in production (e.g. in China) will bring prices down somewhat in the coming year.

Over the next five years, significant increases in capacity will come online, e.g. in Morocco. Nonetheless prices are expected to remain high over this period because of continuing global demand and increasing costs of raw materials, wages, and (in China) environmental restoration measures.

Over coming decades, the phosphate market is expected to be impacted by long-term trends including continuing growth in agricultural demand, and circular economy initiatives (especially in Europe) to develop recycled products.

 

New EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FRP)

Johanna Bernsel, European Commission DG GROW, explained that the new regulation is very ambitious, widening to cover many different products related to nutrient use in agriculture, including biostimulants which can improve fertiliser nutrient use efficiency. The regulation has Circular Economy objectives, opening the European market for both recycled nutrient materials and recycling technology providers. It will also bring new protection to EU consumers, because for the first time contaminant limits are introduced for CE fertilisers, including for cadmium.

It is important to note that when the new Regulation enters into implementation in June 2022, producers will no longer be able to market under the old regulation 2003/2003, but will have the choice of using the new regulation (CE-Mark) and/or selling under national fertiliser regulations, which will remain in force in each Member State (“Optional Harmonisation”).

Producers should refer to the Frequently Asked Questions and to the Labelling Guidance, both of which documents provide important clarifications on implementation of the new regulation.

In questions from conference participants, it was clarified that the new regulation will limit cadmium to 60 mgCd/kgP2O5 in all CE-Mark mineral phosphate fertilisers from June 2022, as well as limits on certain other heavy metals, and that producers have the option to label “Low Cadmium” when below 20. However, the Commission is mandated by the regulation to review the cadmium limit by 2026, and also to assess a possible uranium limit. Johanna Bernsel also underlined that possible action is also envisaged on contaminants in all fertilisers (organic and mineral, CE-Mark or national fertilisers) with a study underway (see ESPP eNews n°52.
European Commission FRP “Frequently Asked Questions” here
European Commission FRP labelling guidance document C(2021)726 (18/2/2021) and Annex here

 

 

Fertiliser market trends in Europe

Konstantin Golambek, Fertilizers Europe, presented latest conclusions from the federation’s annual analysis of European fertiliser markets and estimates for trends for the coming decade. Phosphorus consumption in mineral fertilisers has fallen by around half in Europe since the 1980’s and has been fairly stable since the late 2000’s. Fertilizers Europe estimates that P use in mineral fertilisers in Europe will fall very slightly, maybe c. 2%, over the next ten years, and N by maybe -5 to -6%. However, there are major regional differences in mineral P fertiliser use across Europe, partly related to differences in density of livestock production (and so manure availability and use).

Fertiliser use will be influenced by crop choice, by climate and by the global agri-food commodity market, by innovation in agriculture, by regulation and also in the long term by a move towards more plant-based diets and by the need for the EU to replace imported animal feedstuffs, such as soy. Farmers in Europe are under high pressure because of labour costs, food industry purchasing and regulation.

Fertilizers Europe sees as key to responding to these challenges: balancing all nutrients and use of both mineral and organic fertilisers, adapting to different regional contexts, increasing knowledge per hectare, Circular Economy and high-efficiency fertilisers. The aim is to improve Nutrient Use Efficiency and maintain soil fertility. Nutrient Management Plans in the Common Agricultural Policy will be critical for this.

 

How EU policies will influence phosphorus use

Chris Thornton, ESPP, summarised European policies and regulations which will significantly impact phosphorus use in Europe in coming years. The Green Deal Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity Strategy target to reduce nutrient losses by 50% by 2030 should considerably impact use of mineral fertilisers, organic fertilisers and livestock manure. This is driven by the ongoing problem of eutrophication, likely to be accentuated by climate change, with phosphorus the main (non-morphological) cause of failure to achieve Water Framework Directive quality status requirements in surface waters. Farm-to-Fork also announces actions to promote a shift towards healthy and sustainable diets, with more plant-based foods and less red meat. However, these objectives require clear requirements on balanced nutrient management in the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and this is not yet defined. Other EU policies which significantly impact phosphorus use include the confirmed inclusion of both phosphate rock and P4 on the EU Critical Raw Materials List, the EFSA safe limit (ADI) for phosphorus in food (2019) and Circular Economy policies.
ESPP presentation slides here: https://www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

 

 

EasyMining phosphorus recycling

Yariv Cohen, Sara Stiernström and Christian Kabbe presented the EasyMining (a subsidiary of Ragn-Sells) Ash2Phos process for recovering phosphorus in a purified form from sewage sludge incineration ash. The process uses acid then lime to extract phosphorus from ash and separate off the inert silica (as a sand, useable in the construction industry). The phosphorus is purified (>96% removal of impurities including heavy metals) to produce a precipitated calcium phosphorus (PCP) which is for example 80% soluble in NAC (conform to the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation requirement of >75%) or can be converted to di-calcium phosphate (DCP, 100% NAC soluble). Iron and aluminium can be recovered and recycled as coagulants for sewage treatment. Because of the purity of the recovered PCP, this is currently being trialled for use in animal feed (see ESPP eNews n°52). Easymining today have a 30 000 t-ash/year plant currently in the permitting process in Helsingborg, Sweden, a second 30 000 t-ash/y plant under planning near Berlin Germany and aim to have a third 300 000 t-ash/year capacity in Germany within a decade.
http://easymining.se/ and ESPP – DPP – NNP P-recovery Technology Catalogue
http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

Glatt PHOS4green

Jan Kirchhof, Glatt Ingenieurtechnik GmbH, presented this process which is based on suspension and granulation technologies. Ash is mixed with phosphoric or other acid or additives in a batch reactor, then buffered, then goes to a continuous spray granulation process. The processing is flexible, and other acids or solid or liquid raw materials can be used. At present, the process transfers all contaminants, inert materials such a silica, and iron and aluminium, present in the ash, into the final product. This means that at present only ashes which themselves fulfil fertiliser regulation requirements can be used. Glatt indicate that they are currently at the design phase for a process for heavy metal removal. A first full-scale plant is currently under commissioning in Haldensleben, Germany, with capacity to intake c. 30 000 t-ash per year and produce c. 60 000 t/y fertiliser.
https://phos4green.glatt.com/ and ESPP – DPP – NNP P-recovery Technology Catalogue
http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

Phosphoric acid from low-grade phosphate rock

Marc Sonveaux and Hadrien Leruth, Prayon, presented Prayon’s phosphoric acid production processes, including from low-grade phosphate rock and for phosphorus recycling. The Ecophos / Technophos process produces feed grade DCP (di calcium phosphate) from low-grade phosphate rock with high magnesium content (P content ≥ 5%P) using hydrochloric acid. After acid digestion of the rock, calcium carbonate is added to precipitate impurities (fluoride, silicates (>95% removal), clays, iron and aluminium (>90% removal) and heavy metals), generating 0.3 - 0.45 tDM residue cake per tonne of rock input (depending on the rock composition). After processing to DCP, fluoride is well below 2000 ppm, cadmium below detection limit, arsenic < 3 ppm, etc. The DCP is di-hydrate, offering high biodigestibility. A 5 t/day rock input pilot has been tested for up to 10 days continuous (24/24) operation in Varna, Bulgaria (see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°120). Prayon today has a portfolio of five conventional processes to produce phosphoric acid from phosphate rock using sulphuric acid, as well as the Ecophos/Technophos process, and the GetMoreP process. Currently technologies including H2SO4/HCl based and phosphoric acid based processes from Ecophos, aiming to recover phosphorus from sewage sludge incineration ash and other waste ashes, are at the pilot stage phase (see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°138)

Roy Movsowitz, Tenova Bateman Technologies, presented the TAT PPA  process to produce phosphoric acid from low-grade phosphate rock (as low as 10% P) using hydrochloric acid (excess from the ChlorAlkali process). Two solvent extraction circuits, both with several stages, are required to removal calcium, sulphate and some iron, then to remove further iron and heavy metals, followed by post-treatment to remove organics, reduce fluorine and finally concentrate the phosphoric acid. Further challenges are treatment of liquid effluent (after lime neutralisation) and solid waste. A 21 000 tP2O5/y output plant is being commissioned in India and a second of the same capacity is in the construction stage.

 

P4: outlook for a Critical Raw Material

Willem Schipper summarised uses and perspectives for P4 and its derivatives, which represent around 2% of world phosphate rock consumption (of which around half in the herbicide glyphosate). Although this is a relatively small quantity, many uses of P4 are critical and non-substitutable, including in lithium-ion batteries, fire safety, matches and pyrotechnics, catalysis, lubricants … as well as thermal phosphoric acid for electronics applications requiring very high purity. Today there are around forty P4 furnaces operating worldwide, mostly in China (maybe 30 plants, c. 70% of world production), Vietnam (8 plants, c. 10%), USA (1 plant, c. 10%) and Kazakhstan (1 Plant, c. 10%). Prices were stable in 2020, with no large new applications foreseen, and a significant part of China’s production of P4 still going to uses such as detergents or food phosphates where P4 derivatives can today be replaced by chemicals from purified “wet acid” route phosphoric acid. The market outlook is mixed, with on the one hand a new P4 production plant coming onstream shortly in Malaysia and expansions in capacity of “wet acid” purification also underway, but on the other hand growth in uses. For more information on P4 and P4 derivates, see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°136.

Willem Schipper also provided an overview of phosphorus recycling technologies and their development, underlining that regulation drives technology development (e.g. Germany and Switzerland P-recycling obligations). In particular, technologies are today available for phosphorus recovery from sewage sludge incineration ash and animal by-product ash, with a number of full-scale plants at the construction or commissioning stage. The successful processes will probably be those which are economic, accept different input materials and produce products adapted to market needs.

 

Recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

RELACS: recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

The final two RELACS webinars on potential and risks of use of recycled nutrient products in Organic Farming considered contaminants, recycling routes and Life Cycle Analysis (following on from the first three webinars already summarised in ESPP eNews n°53) and concluded with discussion of how use of recycled nutrients is considered in the EU Organic Farming Regulation and perspectives for using recycled nutrients as Organic Farming inputs in the future.

Environment and health

Robin Harder, SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), presented possibilities of recycling nutrients from human faeces and urine and from municipal sewage. When excreta are collected separately at the source (to date only marginal in Europe), this can provide nutrients in a more concentrated form and with less contaminants than in municipal sewage, though pharmaceuticals and hormones are still potentially present. Technically, it should be possible to obtain clean and safe recycling fertilisers from both source-separated urine and faeces and from municipal sewage. In case of recovery from municipal sewage, the focus is often on phosphorus, whereas with recovery from source-separated excreta, a broader focus on more nutrient elements is more common.

Kristian Koefoed Brandt, University of Copenhagen, summarised knowledge on antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in organic waste streams and in soils. Farmland application of organic fertilizers typically leads to a transient increase in abundance and diversity of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). Metals such as copper and zinc may constitute persistent selection pressures for antibiotic resistance (co-selection) in some agricultural soils, whereas antibiotic residues tend to be quickly biodegraded or inactivated in soil (Song et al., 2017). Results from a recent Swedish agricultural field trial indicated that 40 years of sewage sludge application did not have any clear effects on ARGs most likely due to competitive exclusion of sludge-derived bacteria (Rutgersson et al., 2020).

Lukas Egle, Vienna Municipality, presented the City’s objective to recover phosphorus from ash from mono-incineration of sewage sludge, and maybe in the future, also animal by-products. The incineration route ensures elimination of organic contaminants and microplastics, and heavy metals are removed in the ash processing. In Austria, sewage contains around 1 kgP/person per year, and phosphorus in animal by-products is a further 0.5 – 0.6 kgP/person/year. If this were fully recovered, it would represent nearly half of Austria’s mineral phosphate fertiliser use.

Ludwig Hermann, Proman and ESPP President, summarised conclusions of LCA comparisons between mineral fertilisers and recycled nutrient products under the Phorwärts (see ESPP eNews n°28), Systemic and Lex4Bio projects. Greenhouse gas emissions from mineral phosphate fertiliser production are relatively limited, 1 – 1.5 kgCO2-eq./kgP2O5, compared to 9 -11 kgCO2-eq./kgN for mineral nitrogen fertilisers. Environmental impacts of most recycled P-fertilisers are lower than those of mineral P-fertilisers, particularly if heavy metals are removed. However, the lower impact is not guaranteed due to high chemicals consumption for some recovery processes or relevant heavy metal concentrations (Zn, Cu, Pb, Cr) compensating the advantage of lower cadmium concentrations. LCA analysis suggests that the most important environmental impacts are freshwater eutrophication (in the use phase), cadmium toxicity (depending on the source of rock used) and risk of accidental pollution from phosphogypsum waste stocks (generally around historic production sites, see article on Tampa, Florida, below). Difficulties are that various different LCA methodologies are not compatible, results depend very strongly on definition of boundaries and allocation of impacts to different outputs, non-coverage of accidental pollution risks in LCAs and need for probabilistic risk assessment for pollutants.

Perspectives for acceptance of recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

Bernhard Speiser, FiBL, outlined key points of the EU Organic Farming Regulation relevant to use of secondary nutrient materials. A material can only be used as an input (e.g. fertiliser) in Organic Farming if it is specifically listed in the Regulation annex. At present, a number of secondary nutrient materials are listed (with various specific conditions, in particular “not from factory farming”): manure, dejecta of insects and worms, composted/digested household biowaste, biogas digestate, mushroom culture waste, slaughterhouse wastes, alcohol industry stillage, mollusc waste, egg shells, industrial lime from sugar or salt production. The Regulation also fixes some general principles: input materials must be from plants, algae, animals, microbes or minerals (i.e. not chemically processed) unless such materials are not available in sufficient quantity or quality. Also (art. 5) mineral fertilisers must be “low solubility”.

Frank Oudshoorn, SEGES Denmark and member of EGTOP (the EU expert group on Organic Farming) explained that this group examines proposals to add additional input materials to the Regulation annex, when a dossier is submitted with support of a Member State. EGTOP examines whether the proposed material is needed for Organic Farming, safety, and assesses conformity to the overall principles of Organic Farming: natural or Organic origins of the material, low solubility, principle for fertilisers of feeding the soil not the plant. However, Member States may sometimes interpret differently. For example, Denmark has, in advance, accepted use in Organic Farming of ammonium sulphate recovered from digestate by combining stripped ammonia with stripped sulphur – because it was considered the production process was a “mechanical” concentration of digestate. The process has however not been used yet.

Anne-Kristin Løes, NORSØK (Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture), underlined the need for a scientific approach to defining terminology used in the Organic Farming Regulation, such as “natural”, “low solubility”, “physical processing”. This is explored in Løes and Adler, 2019 which discusses the dilemmas between “natural” and sustainability and recycling; between “low solubility” and clean, low contaminant products, between “non-chemical processing” and efficient use of natural resources. The concept of “natural” in Organic Farming is explored in Verhoog 2003 and 2007.

Jakob Magid, University of Copenhagen, summarised a study underway in Denmark on opinions of committed Organic consumers on the use of recycled materials as inputs to Organic production. This suggests that there are two types of committed Organic consumers, at present of similar proportions: those who see Organic products as “pure and clean” and find abhorrent recycling of wastes to Organic farming, and those who favour “sustainability” and consider recycling as an important path towards a more sustainable food system.

In discussions with webinar participants and from the presentations at the five webinars, the following possible conclusions were proposed and will be elaborated in a synthesis document:

  • Many contaminants have decreased in both sewage sludge and manure
  • Organic contaminants in sewage are not a significant risk, but do generate fear and uncertainty
  • Sustainability and recycling are core objectives of Organic Farming
  • Multi-criteria assessments of recycling options are needed, including sustainability aspects
  • Work is needed on defining terms used in the Organic Farming Regulation, such as “low solubility” or “processing.
  • In particular, a definition of “factory farming” is needed (the European Commission has started discussions on this).
  • The Organic Farming movement should have a voice on societal questions such as livestock production localisation, separative sewage collection

RELACS (Improving Inputs for Organic Farming), Horizon 2020 https://relacs-project.eu/

 

Research

Eutrophication significantly increases greenhouse emissions

A review of around 100 scientific publications concludes that eutrophication significantly increases greenhouse gas emissions from freshwaters (CO2, methane, N2O). An increase of 5 µg/l of chlorophyll-a in lakes and reservoirs worldwide would result in an increase of GHG emissions equivalent to >6% of fossil fuel CO2.

The current GHG emissions from freshwaters worldwide are estimated to be equivalent to >30% of global fossil fuel CO2 emissions (56% from freshwater CO2 release, 40% from methane, 4% from N2O).

Eutrophic shallow lakes are estimated to emit nearly 50% more methane than comparable non-eutrophic lakes. Eutrophication increases organic matter production in fresh waters, but it is unclear whether the resulting net CO2 uptake will compensate for increased methane production, because the organic matter produced is readily degradable. Increased nitrogen loading to surface waters can cause them to shift from being N2O sinks to net N2O emitters. Eutrophication also increases freshwater GHG emissions indirectly, for example, by shifting from vegetation dominated by macrophytes to algae, whereas macrophyte roots tend to reduce methane production by moving oxygen to sediments. Also, cyanobacteria readily produce methane even in the oxic water zone, both at day and at night.

The review also shows that climate change is expected to significantly increase freshwater GHG emissions and eutrophication (see also ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°137 on climate change and eutrophication), with positive feedback loops. Increasing temperatures will increase release of nutrients from sediments (accelerated mineralisation), as will extreme climate events (remobilisation of sediments). Both will also lead to increased nutrient losses from land to freshwaters. Increased temperatures may also favour methane production in freshwaters, rather than methane consumption.

This review confirms that policy makers need to further reduce nutrient inputs to surface waters, both because climate change will increase eutrophication risks, and because freshwater eutrophication contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.
“The role of freshwater eutrophication in greenhouse gas emissions: A review”, Y. Li et al., Science of the Total Environment 768 (2021) 144582 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144582

 

 

Biochar pyrolysis removes antibiotic resistance genes

Pot trials in China using pakchoi (Brassica chinensis) suggest that pyrolysis at 400 – 450°C for 30 minutes reduces ARGs (antibiotic resistance genes) to levels comparable to those in control soil. The tests compared composted pig manure (“high temperature” composting for several weeks) from two different farms to control soil (collected from farmland) and to pyrolysed composted manures (biochar). Compost was added to the pots at 4% dw/dw, and the biochar at 1.2% (equivalent because biochar yield was c. 30% of compost input dw/dw). The pots to which compost was added showed much higher levels of ARGs and of MGEs (mobile genetic elements) on the day of application than the control and biochar pots, between which there was no significant different in number of ARGs. Levels of ARGs were still higher in the compost pots after 40 days. The authors conclude that pyrolysis to produce biochar mitigates ARGs in manure.

In a paper cited, H. Liao et al. compared impacts of two composting systems, large scale (c. 20 tonnes), on levels of ARGs in sewage sludge: hyperthermophilic composting (total time 25 days, of which 15 days > 70°C), conventional composting (total time 45 days, 5 days > 55°C). The hyperthermophilic composting showed significantly better reduction of ARGs and MGEs, and shorter half-lives, compared to conventional composting. Hyperthermophilic composting reduced resistance to different antibiotics by 60 – 85 %, whereas conventional composting reduced resistance by 30 – 40%.
“Turning pig manure into biochar can effectively mitigate antibiotic resistance genes as organic fertilizer”, X. Zhou et al., Science of the Total Environment 649 (2019) 902–908 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.08.368

 

 

Differing positions on sewage sludge use in agriculture

A paper based on literature and 17 stakeholder interviews concludes that attitudes to agricultural use of sewage sludge in Sweden (after treatment such as composting or anaerobic digestion) are highly polarised. Fear of contamination, in particular “unknown or unfamiliar” risks, and “feelings of disgust” are obstacles to acceptance, despite the benefits of recycling nutrients and organic matter. Stakeholders interviewed were 5 famers or farmers’ cooperatives, one food retailer, one NGO, sewage works operators, regulators and consultants. An identified need is better monitoring and risk assessment of emerging contaminants such as PFAS or microplastics. The study concludes that use of sewage sludge in agriculture brings important benefits but that the priority should be better understanding and control of risks.
“Resources and Risks: Perceptions on the Application of Sewage Sludge on Agricultural Land in Sweden, a Case Study”, N. Ekane et al., Front. Sustain. Food Syst. 5:647780, https://doi.org/10.3389/fsufs.2021.647780

 

 

Phosphate fertiliser value of dairy processing sludges

Dairy industry wastewater phosphate removal sludges, resulting from use of aluminium or calcium to precipitate phosphate to sludge, were compared to superphosphate for P-fertiliser effectiveness, on grassland in a field trial in Ireland on P-deficient soil. The P was applied on 12th April and grass was harvested on 24th May, 17th July, 26th September and 6th February of the following year. Differences in grass biomass yield were not significant compared to control, neither for the superphosphate nor for the dairy sludges. Differences in grass P concentration were not significant compared to control for any treatment in the second and third harvest, but were significantly higher with superphosphate in the first harvest, and significantly higher with both of the dairy sludges in the fourth harvest. The authors calculate that the fertiliser replacement value for the first harvest was 50% for the aluminium sludge and only 16% for the calcium sludge, but increasing to around 100% over time (one year, fourth harvest) for the aluminium sludge. They conclude that P fertiliser replacement value of dairy sludges varies significantly depending on the P-removal process and that appropriate information should be supplied to farmer to enable appropriate P management.
“Differing Phosphorus Crop Availability of Aluminium and Calcium Precipitated Dairy Processing Sludge Potential Recycled Alternatives to Mineral Phosphorus Fertiliser”, S. Ashekuzzaman, Fertiliser. Agronomy 2021, 11, 427 https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11030427

 

 

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/            Twitter: @phosphorusfacts         
Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 1 2021

 

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews053
Download as PDF

Events
Nutrients, aquatic methane emissions and climate change: 22-27 June 2021
New dates for ESPC4: 20-22 June 2022
4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM): 2 June 2021
P-efficiency in poultry farming: 22 April 2021
Nordic Circular Materials Conference: 21-22 April
Digestates in the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation: 28 April
AquaEnviro Wastewater Resource Recovery Conference 

Policy
ESPP webinar on waste-grown algae
End-of-Waste status for secondary materials from waste waters
EU integrated nutrient management action plan

EU Fertilising Products Regulation
STRUBIAS criteria finalised
Fertiliser additives and REACH
Possible new approach for by-products
Technical adjustments and clarifications
EBIC ECOFI position on Animal By-Products

Organic Farming
Public consultation on authorised inputs for Organic Farming
EU Action Plan for Organic farming and aquaculture
RELACS Organic Farming & recycled nutrients webinars
RELACS setting the scene
Organic contaminants and other risks
Digestates, composts, nutrient recycling

Research
Farmer survey on preferences for bio-based fertilisers
Why Phosphorus Use Efficiency in aquaculture needs to improve
Eutrophication drives lake CO2 emissions or uptake

ESPP members

 

 

Events

Nutrients, aquatic methane emissions and climate change: 22-27 June 2021

ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography) Special Session (SS06) on Methane Accumulation in Oxic Aquatic Environments: Sources, Sinks and Subsequent Fluxes to The Atmosphere. Within the 2021 Aquatic Sciences Meeting (online, 22-27 June 2021). In partnership with the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and ASLO, ESPP and SPA will follow-up with a webinar to exchange between science, water stakeholders and policy makers on implications of aquatic methane emissions for nutrient management. Proposals for input are welcome.
ASLO special session on methane in oxic aquatic environments: https://www.aslo.org/2021-virtual-meeting/session-list/
Contact Mina Bizic
To contribute to the ESPP- SPA- IGB webinar: contact

 

New dates for ESPC4: 20-22 June 2022

The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) is postponed (because of Covid). New dates are 20-22 June 2022 in Vienna. PERM, the European Phosphorus Research Meeting will be held virtually 2nd June 2021, see below.
Updates: see www.phosphorusplatform.eu and https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM): 2 June 2021

This meeting, co-organised by ESPP, Biorefine Cluster Europe and ETA Renewable Energies, will link science, industry, agriculture and policy makers. EU-funded projects on nutrient sustainability and phosphorus recycling (Horizon2020, Interreg, LIFE…) and national and company nutrient projects will present, enabling dialogue and synergies. PERM will address how to improve uptake of project recommendations by policy makers and users, through to market, and identify perspectives for research and policy, and implementation gaps.

In parallel to PERM, ESPP is updating our online ‘inventory’ of nutrient-related R&D projects here.

PERM4 – online – 2nd June 2021: event website: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/PERM4
Proposals are welcome for presentations of studies into what factors in nutrient R&D projects improve uptake of conclusions by policy makers, industry and users.
If you wish your project to be included in the programme and/or added to the inventory of projects, please contact

 

P-efficiency in poultry farming: 22 April 2021

A stakeholder webinar will present and discuss the results of the PeGaSus (ERA-NET) research project (Phosphorus efficiency in the chicken Gallus gallus and pig Sus scrofa) 22nd April 2021, 15h-17h CEST Topics will cover feeding strategies, animal physiology and genetics, soil agro-ecosystems, phosphorus re-use and recycling options, measures of farmers’ economic performance, legislative aspects on manure management, and governance & policy instruments.
Programme and registration: http://pegasus.fbn-dummerstorf.de/stakeholder_workshop.html  

 

Nordic Circular Materials Conference: 21-22 April

This two day virtual conference (270 Euros registration) includes a session on phosphorus, 22nd April, 13h – 14h30 CEST, with EasyMining, LKAB, RISE, Grängesberg apetite mining project, University of Boras, Technical University of Denmark DTU.
https://www.circularmaterialsconference.se/

 

Digestates in the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation: 28 April

Presentation of an evaluation by EBA (European Biogas Association) and ECN (European Compost Network) of the interest to place compost or digestate organic fertilisers on the market under the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation and discussion with the European Commission
“Digestate valorisation under the Eu Fertilising Products Regulation”, 28 April 201, 10h-12h CEST online  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1601772252033859597

 

AquaEnviro Wastewater Resource Recovery Conference: 13 May 2021

One day conference 13 May 2021 on resource recovery from wastewaters and biosolids, covering nutrient recovery, hydrogen and other materials: experience from pilot and full scale plants; market pull, user confidence and business models, regulatory framework, links to net zero carbon 2030 agenda for the UK wastewater industry.
“The Art of the Possible: Resource Recovery from Wastewater and Bioresources”, May 13th 2021 online  https://conferences.aquaenviro.co.uk/events/conferences/resource-recovery-from-wastewater/

 

 

Policy

 

ESPP webinar on waste-grown algae

The webinar organised by ESPP with EABA (European Algae Biomass Association, 22nd March 2021, brought together over 400 participants online (from 700 registrants, all of whom have access to meeting networking) including the European Commission (ENV, GROW, MARE, SANTE, RTD, EASME, JRC). Presentations identified and illustrated regulatory questions around valorisation of algae and plants grown using secondary resources in a range of sectors (municipal wastewater, green waste, eutrophication remediation, cement industry (CO2 capture), aquaculture, manure digestate, dairy processing ...) with active discussion in the chat. Questions raised included waste status of algae, contaminants and safety, use in animal feed or fish feed, use in Organic Farming, human food, biofuels … ESPP will now develop a summary of this webinar, including a list of regulatory questions and opportunities, and work on proposals to take these forward (see below a first action on End-of-Waste status for secondary materials from waste waters).
Event webpage: slides, Chat transcript: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/algae2021
Full recording of webinar can be seen on ESPP’s YouTube channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMid-39AIMT-3pzjoY58qiQ

 

End-of-Waste status for secondary materials from waste waters

The European Commission is currently defining a list of secondary material streams for “scoping of development of EU End-of-Waste and By-Product criteria”, as specified in the EU Circular Economy Action Plan (11th March 2020, ESPP eNews n°42). This Action Plan cites “Food, water and nutrients” as one of seven identified Key Product Value Chains. As an action from ESPP’s webinar on regulatory status of waste-grown algae (see above), ESPP is preparing with a number of companies and stakeholders, a joint letter requesting that specific recovered material streams from municipal wastewater (and biomass-derived wastewaters) should be considered for EU End-of-Waste status: algae and biomass grown in waste waters, fibres & polymers etc., nitrogen stripping, phosphate salts for industrial applications. The draft letter is available here and companies and organisations interested to co-sign are invited to contact ESPP.
Contact:

 

EU integrated nutrient management action plan

The European Commission has announced that it will prepare in 2021 an Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP), as announced in the Farm-to-Fork Strategy and in the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan. After wide consultation of our members and network of stakeholders, ESPP has prepared and submitted to the European Commission proposals for the objectives, content and implementation tools of such an Action Plan. ESPP’s input presents a proposed ambitious EU strategy on nutrients, across all relevant policy areas, and a comprehensive set of concrete policy actions and tools. ESPP is open for further comments and input on this document, in that the development of the EU INMAP Action Plan is expected in 2021 to  include consultations enabling to make further input.
ESPP input to INMAP 27/3/2021 www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory
EU Farm-to-Fork Strategy, COM(2020)381, 20th May 2020 here
EU new Circular Economy Action Plan, COM(2020)98, 11th March 2020 here

 

 

EU Fertilising Products Regulation

Good progress was noted on several dossiers at the EU Fertilisers Expert Group 18-19 March 2021. The meeting also received updates on the European Commission (DG Environment) study underway into contaminants and possible risks of organic-containing and of mineral fertilisers (see detail and call for data in ESPP eNews n°52), ECHA work underway towards restrictions on microplastics under REACH, and on the update of the EU Organic Farming regulation annexe listing fertilising materials authorised for use in Organic Farming. It was noted that the principle of inclusion of sewage-recovered struvite and calcined phosphates in Organic Farming was approved by the EU scientific committee (EGTOP) in 2016. ESPP requested that, as the STRUBIAS criteria are now finalised (subject to formal adoption and publication, see below), the Commission should now engage discussions to define the conditions and legal wording for inclusion of these two materials into the next update of the Organic Farming regulation annexes.
EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009 https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/chemicals/specific-chemicals_en
EU Fertilisers Expert Group documents (CIRCAB): https://circabc.europa.eu/ui/group/36ec94c7-575b-44dc-a6e9-4ace02907f2f

 

STRUBIAS criteria finalised

This meeting technically validated the finalised texts of the “STRUBIAS” criteria to add struvite and phosphate salts, ash / ash derived materials and pyrolysis materials (inc. HTC, biochars) as component materials in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation. Except some minor tidying of legal wording, the criteria remain as published for the public consultation (see ESPP eNews n°51). Hopefully, the finalised criteria will now be published in coming months, in time for the entry into implementation of the new Fertilising Products Regulation itself in June 2022.
STRUBIAS criteria, as published for the public consultation February 2021)
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12136-Pyrolysis-and-gasification-materials-in-EU-fertilising-products
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12162-Thermal-oxidation-materials-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12163-Precipitated-phosphate-salts-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products

Fertiliser additives and REACH

Following the Joint Letter coordinated by ESPP and signed by a number of industry federations and companies (mineral fertilisers, organic fertilisers, biostimulants, see ESPP eNews n°51), the European Commission provided answers on several points in a proposed update to the “Frequently Asked Questions” document, which is published and regularly extended and updated on the Commission website, and which provides guidance on interpretation and implementation of the Regulation.

The proposed additional FAQs clarify that:

  • Additives used in fertilisers must be REACH registered for use “in” fertilising products (not “as”), coherent with Recital 26 of the Regulation. This is important, in that e.g. a granulation agent does not have as its function to be a fertilising product, but its safety for use in a fertilising product should be verified.
  • For recovered products, art. 2(7)(d) of REACH can be used (Registration is not necessary, but appropriate information must be available)
  • Detectable traces of unreacted agents or processing agents in final fertiliser products
  • Substances which evolve over time or react when in contact with soil.
  • Further clarifications concerning the definition of “precursors” of CMCs (chemicals which react together to produce a CMC)

European Commission “FAQ” for the Fertilising Products Regulation here (current version online = 21/12/2020).
Joint industry letter and European Commission reply here.

 

Possible new approach for by-products

The European Commission presented progress of work on criteria for use of by-products as component materials (CMC11) in CE-mark fertilising products.
It is now under consideration to specify not only a short, limitative list of certain by-products, with specific contaminant and other criteria for each one, but also to add a category “CMC-WW” which could cover any by-product coming from a “production process or gas processing / gas emissions control process” which is reach registered, relevant for trade, has agronomic value, offers “high purity” and does not contain specified contaminants (to be defined). Questions raised are: will this concern organic materials or only mineral chemical by-products? Will it concern by-products from waste treatment processes or waste recycling processes?
To date, only four categories of by-product were proposed for inclusion in the short list for CMC11, from: fossil fuel refining (possibly widened to some chemical industry by-products, such as ammonium from caprolactum …), refining of minerals, ores and metals (but phosphogypsum seems to be not included), some gas cleaning systems (but not from waste or manure treatment, see below), processing of biomass, water, food, drink, biorefineries, including from the pulp and paper industries.
“Technical proposals for by-products as component materials for EU Fertilising Products” (2nd report), European Commission JRC, 27th November 2020 here. Comments must be submitted via a member of the EU Fertilising Products Expert Group. ESPP is a member, so you can send comment to and we will forward them.
JRC proposals for CMC-WW see document “2021.03.18 CMC 11 CRITERIA_JRC STUDY PROGRESS.PDF” at the Fertilising Products Expert Group CIRCAB site https://circabc.europa.eu/ui/group/36ec94c7-575b-44dc-a6e9-4ace02907f2f

 

Technical adjustments and clarifications

The meeting also validated in principle a number of technical modifications to the Annexes of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation concerning traces of substances subject to limits for food and feed (limit values, labelling), clarifications concerning fertilising products which also have a plant protection effect, typologies of micronutrient fertilisers, contaminants in certain growing media, acceptance of natural, biodegradable and soluble polymers (e.g. in processing and handling additives), chelating agents, tolerance rules for labelling, fiberised plant materials, category 2 & 3 animal by products (including manures) in composts and digestates.
Draft document “Fertilising products - technical update”
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12135-Technical-amendments-to-the-annexes-to-the-Fertilising-Products-Regulation

 

EBIC ECOFI position on Animal By-Products

The industry associations EBIC -biostimulants) and ECOFI (organic fertilisers) have published a detailed 30-page position paper on Animal By-Products (ABPs) in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR). The paper underlines that there is a long history of safe use for a range of Animal By-Products (many of which have significant nutrient content), for example in over 62 000 controls in Italy, only nine cases required further investigation for pathogens, and all nine were finally determined to be negative for contamination. EBIC and ECOFI raise six questions about the process for establishing the ABP End-Points necessary for their use in EU fertilising products in the FPR. The paper provides detailed information on the transformation, legal status, FPR relevance, risks and management for 20 different ABPs today used in fertilising products. The document reminds that art. 46(4) of the FPR obliges the European Commission to engage an assessment to establish whether certain ABPs already widely used in Europe in fertilising products can be included in FPR CE-mark fertilisers and questions why some materials in this list are not in the terms of reference of the mandate given to EFSA in May 2020 (2020-0088 here, see ESPP eNews n°50): meat and bone meal, hydrolysed proteins Cat3, processed manure, glycerine etc from biofuels, derived products from blood, hoofs and horns. EBIC and EFSA also question why existing End Points in the Animal By-Product Regulation 142/2011 seem to be opened to question, but not others. The question is also raised as to why the mandate to EFSA does not take into account that the FPR will ensure certain safety levels through the limits to contamination and pathogens fixed in the PFCs.
EBIC & ECOFI joint position “End points for animal by-products used in EU Fertilising Products should recognise the history of safe use of many common materials”, European Biostimulants Industry Council (EBIC) and the European Consortium of the Organic-Based Fertilizer Industry (ECOFI), March 2021 here.

 

 

Organic Farming

 

Public consultation on authorised inputs for Organic Farming

The European Commission has opened a public consultation (to 23 April 2021) on a proposed update to the annex of the EU Organic Farming Regulation 2018/848 which specifies which substances can be used in Organic Farming in Europe, in particular as fertilisers, soil conditioners, pesticides and disinfectants.

Iron(III) phosphate (ferric phosphate) and diammonium phosphate (only in traps) are authorised as pesticides and phosphoric acid for cleaning/disinfection.

Authorised P-containing secondary nutrient sources containing phosphorus include (subject generally to specific conditions or criteria): materials of plant origin, manures (“factory farming origin forbidden”), source-separated household organic waste, biogas digestate, some animal by-products, algae, sawdust and wood ash (“not chemically treated after felling”), soft ground rock phosphate (subject to EU Fertilising Products Regulation contaminant limits), aluminium-calcium phosphate, Thomas phosphate slag, mollusc waste and crustacean chitin (from sustainable fisheries or Organic aquaculture), certain anoxic organic-rich freshwater sediment, biochars from plant materials.

Authorised P-containing animal feeds include a number of phosphate chemicals “of mineral origin” and fishmeal/oils/etc from sustainable fisheries (with specific conditions).

Monocalcium phosphate is authorised in Organic bakery products (raising agent) and diammonium phosphate in Organic alcoholic beverages.

ESPP will input to the public consultation underlining that Organic farms often have negative phosphorus, potassium and sulphur balances, and that increasing use of recycled phosphorus materials is needed to maintain Organic Farming productivity and soil health and to achieve the Farm-to-Fork target of 25% Organic Farming in Europe. ESPP underlines also that Regulation 2018/848 art.5(c) specifies as a “general principle” of Organic Farming “the recycling of wastes and by-products of plant and animal origin as input in plant and livestock production”. ESPP will request that the positive EGTOP Opinion of 2/2/2016 on acceptance of struvite and calcined phosphates from municipal wastewater should be implemented, and that other recycled phosphate materials should be assessed for acceptance into Organic Farming.
Public consultation to 23 April 2021: “Organic farming - list of products & substances authorised in organic production (update)” here.

 

 

EU Action Plan for Organic farming and aquaculture

The European Commission has published an “Action Plan for the Development of Organic Production”, aiming to increase Organic production in the context of the Green Deal target of 25% of EU agricultural land by 2030 (compared to 8.5% in 2019, and an estimate of 15-18% by 2030 if no action is taken beyond current policies). Member States are asked to fix national targets to achieve together this EU total. The Action Plan has three axes (23 actions): promote Organic food and products ensure consumer trust (including public purchasing), conversion from conventional to Organic agriculture and improving the contribution of Organic Farming to sustainability, and an emphasis on supportive R&D. Action 16 includes developing animal feeds based on algae, aquaculture wastes and insects. Action 23 aims at more efficient use of resources and (alongside biodegradable and compostable plastics) will “promote … the reduction of nutrient release”. The Action Plan however fails to mention recycling (except one mention of plastics) and does not address how increased Organic production can be achieved without new sources of nutrient input, in particular – for sustainability objectives – recycled nutrients.
European Commission Communication “on an Action Plan for the Development of Organic Production”, 25th March 2021, COM(2021)141 - SWD(2021)65 here and annex

 

 

RELACS Organic Farming & recycled nutrients webinars

 

FiBL and RELACS are organising five 2-hour webinars to exchange between researchers and Organic farming stakeholders to gather knowledge on potential risks of use of recycled fertilisers.

To date, this webinar series has some 140 registrants (including nearly 20 speakers), with around 70 researchers and over 30 Organic Farming organisations and a range of other stakeholders.

Remaining webinars:

- How to recycle nutrients from human excreta, 12 April 2021, 14h – 16h Paris summer time (CEST)

- Socioeconomic aspects and final discussion , 22 April 2021, 10h – 12h Paris summer time (CEST)
To register, contact:

 

 

RELACS setting the scene

The first webinar (3 March 2021) set the scene. A survey of over 70 Organic farms by RELACS shows concern about contaminants, especially in composts and digestates, particularly from household wastes.

Marie Reimer, Hohenheim University summarised data on European Organic farm nutrient balances. The balance is often positive for nitrogen but negative for phosphorus and potassium, especially in specialist arable Organic farms (without livestock). Farms which rely largely on BNF (biological nitrogen fixation) have more negative P and K balances (see further information in ESPP eNews n°49).

Jakob Magid, Copenhagen University, presented field trials in Denmark (CRUCIAL study) over nearly twenty years, applying sewage sludge to levels equivalent to two centuries normal application. So far no unwanted effects (except nutrient loss) have been found on soil  and crops caused by recycling of societal wastes in accelerated amounts. Heavy metals in sewage sludge have fallen considerably over recent years. Copper and zinc need to be reduced in animal feeds, to reduce levels in manure. Also, a risk assessment concluded that the risk associated with agricultural use of Danish sewage sludge is comparable to that of animal slurry, once the EU limits for Zn and Cu addition to pig feed have been fully implemented, which should be the case from 2022.

Erik Smolders, KU Leuven, explained that copper and zinc, mainly from manures, and cadmium, mainly from mineral phosphate fertilisers, are the main concerns in agriculture. However, plant availability of metals is more important than loads, and this depends on soil type.

Discussion concluded that Organic farming needs to increase nutrient use efficiency in order to improve productivity and sustainability, and to increase nutrient inputs in some Organic systems such as arable and vegetables. Organic farmers in Denmark tend to consider that it would be preferable to use recycled nutrients from societal wastes, including in the longer term from municipal sewage, over using conventional manure. Questions were raised on whether easily soluble recycled fertilisers could be acceptable.

 

Organic contaminants and other risks

The second webinar (11 March 2021) discussed the scientific data on the risks of organic chemicals, microplastics and pathogens in manure and sewage sludge.

Stephen Smith, Imperial College London, explained that contaminants in sewage sludge have been considerably reduced over the last few decades. Most toxic chemicals are adsorbed in soil, so have low biological activity, and negligible crop uptake, so that use on cropland seems to not be a concern. Transfer to diet via livestock does however require attention but studies spiking cattle feed with sewage sludge showed very low and temporary, or non-detectable, transfer to milk (see ESPP Scope Newsletter n°126). There are over 23 000 chemicals registered under REACH in the EU, of over 100 000 on the chemicals inventory. Many enter secondary resource streams and can pose risks in recycling. Problematic chemicals today are brominated dioxins (resulting from brominated flame retardants), chlorinated alkanes (restricted under POP regulations, but still present in secondary resources) and PFAS/PFOS (perfluorinated chemicals, for which EU further restrictions are now being discussed). QSAR (modelling) analysis of new brominated flame retardants introduced to replace banned substances suggests that these will also prove problematic in the future. Overall, halogenated chemicals are problematic, and the solution is to stop producing and using these. Another problem is the illegal presence of restricted substances in imported articles.

Moritz Bigalke, University of Bern, presented current understanding on microplastics. Significant levels can be present in sewage sludge or composts. The main inputs to soils seem to generally be vehicle tire dust, sewage sludge, compost and agricultural films. While most studies show ecotoxicological impact only at high concentrations of microplastics, one study (Rodriguez-Seijo et al. 2017) suggest that microplastics may impact earthworms at environmentally relevant levels. Microplastics are mobile in soils, can modify soil properties and impact plants (see ESPP eNews n°38). A major difficulty is the absence of standard methods for analysing microplastics in soils and their impacts on soil organisms.

Annika Nordin, SLU (Swedish Agricultural University), presented pathogens in sewage sludge and manures. Treatments such as composting, anaerobic digestion or ammonia sanitisation reduce pathogens to low and safe levels, while storage or alkaline treatment are not efficient against helminth eggs (which are a big problem e.g. in Africa). The EU Sewage Sludge Directive today still allows spreading of untreated sewage sludge if ploughed in within 24 hours.

Discussion concluded that more research is needed into microplastics and into the fate and risk assessment of organic chemical contaminants in soil-plant systems. Input should perhaps be made to the European Commission to propose that the current revision of the Sewage Sludge Directive should ban the spreading of untreated sewage sludge.

 

Digestates, composts, nutrient recycling

The third RELACS webinar (17 March 2021) saw several presentations on recycled nutrient materials.

Kurt Möller, Hohenheim University, presented studies on composts and digestates, showing considerably preferable LCA for anaerobic digestion compared to composting, and also much lower nitrogen losses during processing, but a higher N loss risk for digestates after field application. The long-term fertiliser efficiency of P and K in organic fertilizers is nearly 100 %, but the long term N efficiency varies in a wide range, for compost it is only 20-40%, whereas it can be nearly 70 to 80% for digestates. Both, N losses during storage and after field applications, and low efficiencies in the field affect the stoichiometry of nutrients in organic manures, mainly the N/P- and the N/K-ratio. Therefore, the use of composts (e.g. from food waste) to provide N to crops can result in nutrient imbalances in the soil, leading over time to e.g. phosphorus accumulation. Any treatment approach should emphasize on reduction of any kind of nutrient losses.

Elke Bloem, Julius Kühn Institute and PROMISE (Baltic Bonus project), summarised a study looking at mesophilic anaerobic digesters treating over 40 different input materials including sewage sludge, pig, cattle and poultry manure and maize (as a reference). Eight antibiotics were measured in input materials and in digestate (sulfonamids, tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones). At least one antibiotic was detected in 70-90% of input manures and 100% of sewage samples, with similar detection levels in digestate. Anaerobic digestion reduced median antibiotic levels by around 50%, but high levels were still present e.g. in poultry manure digestates. For comparison, literature data suggests reduction levels of 30% - 100% in composting, very variable even for the same substance in different composting systems (depending on time, temperature, pH, aeration …). The PROMISE study also carried out ecotox tests using Sinapsis alba (white mustard), showing effect concentrations of the order of 1 000 x higher than worst case calculated soil  concentrations. However, the tests also showed that effects of several antibiotics are more than cumulative (synergistic) and should be considered. Also, some literature studies suggest that antibiotics may stimulate antibiotic resistant genes (AGRs) at significantly lower concentrations.

Anne-Kristin Løes, NORSØK, summarised studies on use of hydrolysed fish processing and seaweed processing wastes as fertilisers. Ground fish waste treated in formic acid (pH4) showed to be a very effective nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser (hydrolysed proteins) in a field trial with rye grass, producing as much biomass as  the reference treatment with the same N dose supplied as poultry manure, but with a much more rapid growth response. In the trial, this material was also tested with fibre residue from processing of rockweed (seaweed), from the company ALGEA (Syngenta), rich in K, S, Mg. Both of these residues are currently generally incinerated. Fish processing residues from caught wild fish are currently authorised for use in Organic Farming, whereas this is not clear for fish residues from aquaculture (category 2 waste not accepted; fish excrements not accepted). For further information, see Ahuja et al. review on fish waste based fertilisers.

Erik Meers, Gent University, presented a number of projects working on different routes for processing digestates to generate fertiliser materials, as a solution to transfer excess nutrients from intensive livestock regions to regions needing nutrients for arable production.

Participants discussed manures from digestate, questioning that such processing may only necessary or economic (as opposed to local use of the digestate) in intensive and concentrated livestock production, which is against the principles of Organic Farming.

 

 

Research

 

Farmer survey on preferences for bio-based fertilisers

The Horizon2020 R&D project, Fertimanure (ESPP member, see ESPP eNews n°41 Innovative nutrient recovery from secondary sources: production of high-added value FERTilisers from animal MANURE) has opened a survey of fertiliser users (in Europe, Argentina, Chile). Forty-seven questions ask about farm type and size, soil sampling, farm fertiliser management plan, fertiliser application costs, readiness to switch to Organic Farming or to bio-based fertilisers, familiarity with regulations, qualities considered important for bio-based fertilisers, materials considered acceptable in bio-based fertilisers, etc.
Fertiliser user questionnaire: https://www.fertimanure.eu/en/news/consult/26

 

Why Phosphorus Use Efficiency in aquaculture needs to improve

An overview of global phosphorus flows in fish production (capture and aquaculture) shows that the net P flow has changed from positive + c. 0.5 MtP/y (more P in harvested fish, both captured and cultured) in the 1960’s – 1970’s to negative – c. 1 MtP/y (more P used in aquaculture than harvested). P in harvested fish is an order of magnitude larger than other P pathways from water to land (migratory fish, seabirds, deposition). P input to aquatic systems from aquaculture globally is estimated at c. 2 MtP/y (2016), rising rapidly since the 1990’s with the expansion of aquaculture. This compares to estimates of losses from croplands and manure of 4 - 5 MtP/y (not including losses related to land use change) and of total river P discharge to oceans of 4 – 22 MtP/y. ESPP note: these numbers are coherent with global phosphate rock mining of 17 – 24 MtP/y (ESPP Factsheet). The authors estimate that c. 0.3 MtP/y of mineral phosphate is used in aquaculture feed. The authors estimate that global average Phosphorus Use Efficiency (PUE) in aquaculture is c. 20%, higher for finfish than for crustaceans. China represents nearly 60% of global aquaculture P input. In China, upper values for PUE are 44% for finfish and 24% for crustaceans. PRE (Phosphorus Retention Efficiency), that is % of input P retained in fish biomass in feeding experiments, can be higher, e.g. 44% median PRE for carp, which represents c. 40% of world aquaculture production. The authors estimate that an increase of global aquaculture PUE to 48% would be necessary to achieve “net zero” flows in fish capture and production, which would be very demanding. The authors note that aquaculture shows net P use (input – harvest) / protein  of c. 0.3 g/g compared to 0.03 – 0.14 g/g calculated for crop-livestock systems.
Huang et al. 2021 “The shift of phosphorus transfers in global fisheries and aquaculture” https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-14242-7

 

 

Eutrophication drives lake CO2 emissions or uptake

Net influx and efflux of CO2 was calculated for 15 eutrophic, shallow lakes (< 7m) in Iowa, USA (mostly manmade lakes), for which long term water chemistry survey data was available 2000 to 2010. Additionally, dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) was isotope tested, and dissolved organic matter (DOM was analysed. Without eutrophication, lakes are generally net sources of CO2 to the atmosphere (efflux). In this study of eutrophic lakes, five lakes showed net CO2 influx (sink) of c. -50 to -1800 mmolCO2/m2/day (average during the ice free season = c. 8 months), whereas ten showed net efflux (emission) of c. 320 – 11 800 mmolCO2/m2/day, showing values significantly higher than previously reported in literature. For the lake with the highest net efflux (Badger Lake, 0.17 km2) this represents around 21 000 tCO2/year (based on 8 months). The carbon analysis showed that in all fifteen lakes, the DIC was derived from degradation of lake carbon (e.g. from sediment), mineral dissolution and atmospheric uptake, and not from degradation of land runoff organic carbon. CO2 efflux from the lakes was correlated to total nitrogen and to watershed wetlands. Conclusions are that although algal blooms resulting from eutrophication can cause lakes to uptake CO2 from the atmosphere for periods of months, eutrophication can cause wide changes in CO2 influx or efflux, including in some cases high CO2 emissions. The large effluxes are hypothesised to possibly be related to photodegradation of nitrate and nitrite, related to high nitrogen inputs to the lakes.
Morales-Williams et al. 2021 “Eutrophication Drives Extreme Seasonal CO2 Flux in Lake Ecosystems” Ecosystems (2021) 24: 434–450
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-020-00527-2
 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 1 2021

 

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews052
Download as PDF

 

Events 
Nutrients, aquatic methane emissions and climate change 
Algae for nutrient removal and recycling: regulatory questions  
P-efficiency in poultry farming  
CRU Phosphates 2021: “the” phosphate industry event  
AquaEnviro Wastewater Resource Recovery Conference

Call for data 
Contaminants in mineral and organic fertilisers

ESPP member news 
ESPP new member: HTCycle AG 
EasyMining, Lantmännen & SLU to test recovered phosphate as animal feed

Industry news 
DSM and livestock nutrient sustainability  
New network of fertiliser regulatory experts

Baltic manure management recommendations  
SuMaNu (1) report on manure management  
SuMaNu (2) report on manure processing  
SuMaNu (3) report: impact gap for manure nutrient projects  
SuMaNu (4): draft policy recommendations

Research 
Climate change and Circular Economy 
Lakes as climate sinks and emitters  
Organic contaminants eliminated in sewage sludge biochar  
P-fertiliser effectiveness of organic residues

Stay informed 
ESPP relaunches social media

ESPP members

 

Events

Nutrients, aquatic methane emissions and climate change

Freshwater emissions of methane are of the same order as methane released by wetlands, and a significant contributor to climate change. Nutrient losses to surface waters and eutrophication will impact methane emissions. ESPP and the US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance summarised recent knowledge in SCOPE Newsletter n° 135 (July 2020).

ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography) is organising, as part of the 2021 Aquatic Sciences Meeting (online, 22-27 June 2021), a Special Session (SS06) on Methane Accumulation in Oxic Aquatic Environments: Sources, Sinks and Subsequent Fluxes to The Atmosphere.

Deadline for abstract submission is 12th March (05:59 GMT, 1600 characters)

In partnership with the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and ASLO, ESPP and SPA will follow-up the ASLO session with a webinar to exchange between science, water stakeholders and policy makers on implications of aquatic methane emissions for nutrient management. Both the ASLO session and this webinar will be summarised, with an update on recent science, in a further SCOPE Newsletter special edition.
ASLO special session on methane in oxic aquatic environments: https://www.aslo.org/2021-virtual-meeting/session-list/ 
Contact Mina Bizic  
Abstract submission deadline 12 March 2021 (05:59 GMT) 
To contribute to the ESPP- SPA- IGB webinar: contact

 

Algae for nutrient removal and recycling: regulatory questions

ESPP is organising a webinar workshop, with participation of the European Commission (DGs ENVI, GROW MARE, JRC) on Monday 22nd March, 9h-13h (Paris time, CET). The webinar aims to identify regulatory questions impacting valorisation of algae grown in wastewaters, or “fed” with other waste streams (e.g. CO2 capture), or for materials left after extracting materials such as biofuels or cosmetics from algae. Algae can be valorised to fertilisers (recycling nutrients and organic carbon to soil), animal feed, bioenergy or to many other applications. Use of nutrients from algae grown using waste inputs raise specific questions under EU fertilisers and animal feed regulations, as well as contaminant and safety questions. 
Registration (free): https://algae2021.eventbrite.co.uk 
Event webpage, updated programme www.phosphorusplatform.eu/algae2021

 

P-efficiency in poultry farming

A stakeholder webinar will present and discuss the results of the PeGaSus (ERA-NET) research project (Phosphorus efficiency in the chicken Gallus gallus and pig Sus scrofa) 22nd April 2021, 15h-17h CEST Topics will cover feeding strategies, animal physiology and genetics, soil agro-ecosystems, phosphorus re-use and recycling options, measures of farmers’ economic performance, legislative aspects on manure management, and governance & policy instruments. 
Programme and registration: http://pegasus.fbn-dummerstorf.de/stakeholder_workshop.html

 

CRU Phosphates 2021: “the” phosphate industry event

Phosphates 2021 logoMembers of ESPP benefit from a 10% reduction for registration to “Phosphates 2021”, online 23-25 March 2021. This is the only major global event for the phosphate mining, processing, phosphorus chemicals and phosphate fertiliser industries, and brings together over 400 industry participants every year. This year’s Phosphates conference is online, with virtual exhibition and networking centre, interactive discussion groups, conference presentations with Q&A. Registration prices are considerably lower than usual.
https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/register

 

AquaEnviro Wastewater Resource Recovery Conference

One day conference on resource recovery from wastewaters and biosolids: nutrient recovery, hydrogen and other materials: experience from pilot and full scale plants; market pull, user confidence and business models, regulatory framework, links to net zero carbon 2030 agenda for the UK wastewater industry. Abstract submission deadline: Friday 12th March (200 words). 
“The Art of the Possible: Resource Recovery from Wastewater and Bioresources”, May 13th 2020 online. 
Abstract submission deadline 12th March https://conferences.aquaenviro.co.uk/events/conferences/resource-recovery-from-wastewater/

  

Call for data

Contaminants in mineral and organic fertilisers

The European Commission (DG Environment) has contracted to Arcadis and Arcadia International a study into contaminants in fertilisers (organic and inorganic fertilisers, sold as fertilisers under EU or under national regulations). The declared objective is to identify contaminants, fertiliser additives or fertiliser components or their decomposition products, which pose possible risks for the environment, for crops, for consumers (via crops) or for farmers. ESPP participated in a stakeholder workshop online organised by Arcadis 4th March 2021 (ESPP circulated the invitation to members), with nearly one hundred participants from different concerned companies and sectors. DG ENVI suggested that the study underway could lead to modifications of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation and to “Restrictions” under REACH. A shortlist of substances (mainly contaminants) to be studied has been defined: pyrazoles, dioxins, PCBs, PFAS (perfluorinated alkyls), pharmaceuticals (e.g. diclofenac), cadmium, chromium, mercury, vanadium and fluoride. A preliminary risk scoping will be carried out on these substances by mid-2021, including defining fertilisers concerned, risks, possible risk management measures (e.g. restrictions / limit levels in fertilisers). If potential risks are identified, these will be submitted to ECHA (European Chemical Agency) for additional data collection, risk assessment and then public consultation before possible “Restrictions” under REACH. Companies and stakeholders having data, studies on any of the above listed contaminants in fertilisers are invited to transmit these to Arcadia before end March 2020 (data on levels of these contaminants in fertilisers or in recycled nutrient materials, risk assessments for these contaminants in fertilisers or in soil). 
Arcadia study contact

  

ESPP member news

ESPP new member: HTCycle AG

HTcycle logoBased in North-East of Germany, HTCycle AG uses biogenic waste as raw material to produce high quality end products, which are like active carbon and can be used for the 4th cleaning step in wastewater treatment plants, as well as ammonium sulphates and struvite for the agricultural sector.

HTCycle AG was established in 2009 and is part of the IPI group (International Power Invest AG), specialised in renewable energy solutions and environmental technologies. The patented HTCycle process is based on hydrothermal carbonisation technology and uses steam as the reaction medium at around 220°C, 24 bars for 3-5 hours. Focusing on sewage sludge with 25-30% dry matter content as raw material, the activated carbon produced from the sewage sludge can be used in the water cleaning process to remove micro plastic, hormones and pharmaceutical residues. Phosphorus can be leached from the HTCycle coal using sulphuric acid, to produce phosphoric acid. Ammonia stripped from offgases can be either reacted with the phosphorus to produce struvite and/or used to produce ammonium sulphate. The process thus complies with the German phosphorus recovery obligation (Sewage Sludge Ordinance of 2017). To date HTCycle AG has more than 10 years of experience operating pilot plants with 8.000 and 16.000 tons of capacity per year and is currently planning to build several full-scale 24/7 operating industrial-plants in Germany together with a European Infrastructure Fund. The first plant will be built in Wolgast, North East Germany, with a capacity of 16.000 tons per year of sewage sludge wet weight. HTCycle AG joins the ESPP because it aims to bring the economic and environmental benefits of hydrothermal carbonization, combined with efficient phosphorus recycling, to the attention of the general and professional public.
https://htcycle.ag/

 

EasyMining, Lantmännen & SLU to test recovered phosphate as animal feed

EasyMining (Ragn-Sells group), an ESPP member, the Swedish University of Agricultural Services (SLU) and Lantmännen Research Foundation (Swedish agricultural cooperative of 20 000 farmers) have launched a project to test calcium phosphate recovered from sewage sludge incineration ash as a phosphorus source in animal feed for poultry and pigs.

The PCP (precipitated calcium phosphate) is produced by the EasyMining Ash2Phos process from sewage sludge incineration ash (see ESPP P-recovery technology catalogue), 600 kg/day pilot operational in Helsingborg, two full scale plants in permitting. It offers high P content, the same P solubility as commercial MCP (mono calcium phosphate) today used in animal feed (90% in citric acid) and low fluorine. The planned trials, to run for two years, will assess the digestibility of the PCP, in order to enable optimal use in animal feed and to minimise losses to manure.

EasyMining underline the need to clarify EU regulation concerning use of products recovered from sewage sludge in animal feeds. ESPP has engaged discussions with the European Commission on this question.
“New project to test recovered phosphorus as feed phosphate” 15/2/2021 https://www.easymining.se/newsroom/articles-news/feed-project/

 

Industry news

DSM and livestock nutrient sustainability

Royal DSM has launched “Reducing emissions from livestock”, a sustainability platform addressing climate emissions and nutrient stewardship. DSM is a global science-based company in nutrition, health and sustainable living. DSM solutions for livestock include feed additives which improve nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in poultry and in pigs, and so reducing N losses, improve phosphorus and amino acid digestibility, reduce methane emissions in ruminants and increase overall animal feed use efficiency. Ivo Lansbergen, President, DSM Animal Nutrition & Health: “Amidst global climate change, the need to reduce carbon emissions from animal livestock is increasingly important. It is not a question of whether we need to shift to a more sustainable business model, it is more a question of how fast and with what impact. We need to shift to a model where farmers are getting a fair price for the animal proteins produced, where people across the world have access to affordable proteins, and last but not least, where animal farming reduces its impact on the environment (emissions, water quality through manure measurement, bio-diversity) significantly”.
“Royal DSM N : DSM launches its sustainability platform ‘Reducing emissions from livestock' as part of We Make It Possible”, 21 January 2021 http://www.publicnow.com/view/572B40F4251CEEE2628E2D2033D1295A89DF2425

 

New network of fertiliser regulatory experts

The Fertiliser Consultants Network (FCN) www.fertcon.net is the first European network of regulatory consultancies for the fertiliser sector. The network can provide expertise across Europe as well as North Africa, South America, Russia and China. Members can provide consultancy on both national and European regulation including implementation of the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009 and of the new Regulation on Mutual Recognition 2019/515, biostimulants, fertiliser additives, organic and mineral fertilisers, Organic Farming. Founding members are Artemisa, Openagri, SILC Fertilizzanti, SUN Chemicals Services, Vox Gaia.
Fertiliser Consultants Network (FCN) www.fertcon.net

 

Baltic manure management recommendations

SuMaNu (1) report on manure management

The SuMaNu platform (Sustainable Nutrient and Manure Management for reduction of nutrient loss in the Baltic Sea Region) has published a report (by RISE) bringing together recommendations for manure management from seven Baltic manure projects (list below). These projects addressed different aspects of manure management, and this report aims to develop recommendations covering all aspects o sustainable manure use (nutrient utilisation, ammonia emissions, greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient runoff and leaching, manure nutrient recycling, odours, pathogens and contaminants) over the whole livestock production chain (feed, animal housing, manure storage, manure application and manure processing). Costs of manure management, economic and regulatory instruments are discussed. The report concludes that baseline obligatory standards for manure handling and use should be tightened, information of farmers should be increased and economic incentives implemented to help finance sustainable technologies and practices. 
Project recommendations summarised in this report: Manure Standards, Baltic Slurry Acidification, GreenAgri, BONUS PROMISE, Baltic Manure, Baltic Deal, and Baltic Compass. “Technologies and management practices for sustainable manure use in the Baltic Sea Region”, E. Sindhöj et al., RISE Report 2020:77, SuMaNu http://ri.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1476430/FULLTEXT01.pdf

 

SuMaNu (2) report on manure processing

A second report from SuMaNu summarises different manure processing technologies and the resulting recycled nutrient fertiliser products. Regional manure nutrient misbalances in Finland, Sweden, Germany and Poland are assessed. Technologies summarised are: mechanical separation, slurry acidification, compositing, anaerobic digestion, thermal drying, pelletising, pyrolysis, HTC, combustion, gasification, ammonia stripping, membrane separation, struvite precipitation and vacuum evaporation. Fate of contaminants and pathogens are discussed. The report concludes that concentration of livestock production in certain regions generates nutrient surpluses: processing and recycling can enable transport of nutrients to crop-growing regions where they are needed, but manure processing is economically challenging. Incentives are needed to support the high investment costs for processing and to develop markets for recycled nutrient products. These often differ from conventional mineral fertilisers and services to facilitate transfer to their use should be supported. 
“Manure processing as a pathway to enhanced nutrient recycling”, S. Luostarinen et al., 2020, SuMaNu https://jukuri.luke.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/546254/luke_luobio_62_2020.pdf

 

SuMaNu (3) report: impact gap for manure nutrient projects

A third report from SuMaNu analyses pitfalls between envisaged and realised impacts of manure nutrient projects, that is whether project recommendations were taken up by policy makers or implemented by farmers. The projects analysed are the Baltic manure projects listed in (1) above. The only project recommendation to achieve high policy maker and farmer uptake was the Baltic COMPASS recommendation to develop manure phosphorus management information, such as P-norms and standard P-indices for manures. Slurry acidification achieved medium policy integration and manure-based biogas production achieved medium policy integration and user uptake. Conclusions are that projects should explicitly define recommendations and make efforts to make these clear and accessible, and that project activities should correspond to objectives. Recommendations are more likely to be implemented if they are well communicated, in line with farmers’ needs, and if representatives of policy makers and farmers are involved in the project. 
“Typical pitfalls leading to gaps between envisaged and realised impacts of manure and nutrient related projects - a gap analysis”, H. Lyngsø Foged et al., Organe Institute, June 2020, SuMaNu https://www.organe.dk/docs/SuMaNu_Report_2-3_Gap_analysis_Organe_Report.pdf

 

SuMaNu (4): draft policy recommendations

SuMaNu has also published six draft policy recommendation sheets, each 2-3 pages. These cover

- Fertilisation planning: in particular recommending obligatory farm gate nutrient balancing for N and P (comparison on nutrient inputs to offtakes, enabling calculation of nutrient efficiency)

- Fertilisation planning measures: development of Baltic region P fertiliser norms, a soil P-index model and tools for manure fertilisation planning, based on manure standards

- Handling and storage of manure: definition of BAT (Best Available Technologies) to reduce ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions, minimum manure storage capacities, spreading in Spring and Summer, application rates based on manure standards

- Regional nutrient reallocation: strategy and measures to support production and use of recycled nutrients from manure, with biofuel production / renewable transport

- Safe manure recycling: reduction of trace elements and pharmaceuticals in feed (then found in manure), improving hygiene of manure processing (avoid recontamination), avoid mixing manure and sewage sludge in processing

- Knowledge transfer between research, regulators and farmers, including via agricultural and environmental advisory services
SuMaNu draft policy recommendations: https://balticsumanu.eu/national-stakeholders-have-their-say-regarding-sumanu-policy-recommendations/

 

Research

Climate change and Circular Economy

A report from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation (EMF) and Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) concludes that moving to circularity for steel, aluminium, plastics, cement and food could reduce by nearly half these sectors’ climate emissions, so reducing total world greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by around 20%. Agriculture and food are estimated to contribute 17% of EU GHG. Over 20% of food is wasted in the EU. Combined with methane emissions from waste, global food waste is estimated to contribute 8% of anthropogenic GHG. EMF suggest that circularity in the agri-food system, including “regenerative agriculture” (~36%), reducing food waste (~12%) and recycling food waste back to soil (~2%) could reduce agri-food system GHG by nearly 50%, but most of this suggested reduction depends on “regenerative agriculture” (defined as “crop and livestock production approaches that enhance the health of the surrounding natural ecosystem”).

EMF states that policies needed include a reform of the CAP (EU Common Agricultural Policy), active policies to reduce food waste, separate collection of biowaste (as required by the Waste Framework Directive by 2024) and creating markets for composts and digestates. EMF also notes the need for fiscal reforms to support circularity, including for nutrients.
“A low-carbon and circular industry for Europe”, Ellen Macarthur Foundation and Institute for European Environmental Policy, 2021 https://think2030.eu/publications/a-low-carbon-and-circular-industry-for-europe/ 
“Completing the picture. How the circular economy tackles climate change”, Ellen Macarthur Foundation, 2019 https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/our-work/activities/climate-change

  

Lakes as climate sinks and emitters

In a 20-minute webinar online here, in the US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance “Science Now” series, Adam Heathcote presents recent work estimating annual carbon capture in freshwater lakes (see paper by Anderson et al. summarised p.16 of SCOPE Newsletter n° 137). Based on a newly collated data set, covering 500 lakes and reservoirs worldwide, in different biomes, they conclude that lakes are a significant global carbon sink, with increasing nutrient losses increasing carbon sequestration to sediments. However, lakes remain a net carbon emitter, with net carbon releases into the atmosphere around twice burial rates. The largest cause of carbon burial is soil erosion, which takes organic carbon to sediments. Also, increasing carbon sequestration in lakes is maybe 15 to 25 times lower (greenhouse equivalent) than possible expected increases in aquatic methane emissions related to eutrophication (see SCOPE Newsletter n°135). 
US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNFDQTfeT7mGsMY_YOgMonA and Science Now “Nutrients Increase Global Freshwater Carbon Sink” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_IlFjiIfqE

  

Organic contaminants eliminated in sewage sludge biochar

Tests with sewage sludge show that pyrolysis at 400°C (2 hours) remove pharmaceuticals to below detection limits. Pyrolysis at 700°C (2 hours) also eliminated 99% of PVBs, PAHs and EDC/Hs*. The sewage sludge was from a 500 000 p.e. municipal sewage works in the Czech Republic operating chemical P-removal, after mesophilic anaerobic digestion, centrifuge dewatering and then dried in a paddle dryer (100°C, 3 hours). Pyrolysis was carried out in the laboratory on 100g samples of dried sludge, particle size 0.5 - 2 mm, in a quartz fixed-bed reactor, and was tested at 400°C, 500°C, 600°C, 700°C and 800°C in oxygen-free conditions (under helium). The sludge H/C-org ratio was 1.75 and this was reduced to H/C-org <0.7 in >= 500°C biochars, that is conform to the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (draft) STRUBIAS criteria.

Removal of PCBs may not be relevant in that total PCBs in the sewage sludge were < 300 ng/g: levels were reduced to < 30 ng/g in the biochars. Pyrolysis at >= 500°C reduced levels of PAH from 36 µg/g in the dried sludge to around 1 µg/g, that is significantly lower than the 6 µg/g limit proposed in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (draft) STRUBIAS criteria. Only three EDC/Hs were found in the sludge: bisphenol A, oestradiol, triclosan. Of these, only bisphenol was detectable in any of the biochars, and was reduced from > 1 000 ng/g in the dried sludge to c. 10 ng/g event with >=  500°C pyrolysis. Nine of the twenty-seven pharmaceuticals tested were found in the dried sewage sludge (concentrations 0.1 - 50 ng/g) and all were non-detectable in all of the biochars.

The authors suggest that pyrolysis at >= 400°C for 2 hours is sufficient to ensure complete elimination of the studied pharmaceuticals from sewage sludge biochars. Based on fact that 700°C (2 hours) was sufficient to remove 99.8% of the other organic contaminants tested, the authors suggest the sewage sludge pyrolysis at temperatures higher than 600°C with sufficient residence time (> 30 min) should ensure efficient organic pollution removal. However, this is based on the limited number of different pharmaceuticals found in this sludge and on a limited number of other organic molecules. Also, the study did not assess whether the pyrolysis may have decomposed the pharmaceuticals or other organic contaminants into breakdown products, nor whether microplastics were eliminated. Therefore, further investigations into these questions are recommended. 
* PCB = polychlorinated biphenyl. PAH = polyaromatic hydrocarbon. EDC/H = endocrine disrupting chemical or hormone. 
“Effect of pyrolysis temperature on removal of organic pollutants present in anaerobically stabilized sewage sludge”, J. Mosko et al., Chemosphere 265 (2021) 129082 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.129082

 

P-fertiliser effectiveness of organic residues

The RAE (Relative Agronomic Efficiency) for phosphorus of nineteen organic secondary nutrient materials was tested in three independent pot trials (each pot with four replicates, total of 152 pots over three years) with barley, for approx. 12 weeks (to maturity and grain harvest) and compared to single superphosphate fertiliser (SSP). Soil used was sandy, low P (13 mg/kg OlsenP), with pH 5.5 or limed to 5.8 or 6.5. Other nutrients (N, K, Mg, Ca, Fe, Zn, Mn, Cu, B, Mo, S) were applied sufficiently. The organic materials tested were manures/slurries from cattle, pig and fur fox, pig slurry mixed with food industry wastes (raw, composted or digested), sewage sludges (from 3 sewage works using iron salts for P-removal to different extents), pyrolysed and HTC sewage sludges.

The RAE (Relative Agronomic Efficiency) was calculated as the amount of P in SSP needed to produce the same yield as for the organic residue, divided by the total P applied in the organic residue.

At low P application rates, pig slurry, cattle slurry and composted cattle manure showed RAE above 100% (up to 189%). These materials were tested at application rates of 40 mgP/kg soil, whereas the sewage sludge derived products were tested at 150 mgP/kg soil, this being the highest P application rate at which SSP was tested. The manures, applied at only 40 mgP/kg, gave barley yields of yields of 47 – 61 g barley grains per pot, compared to the yield of 76 g grain/pot for SSP at 150 mgP/kg soil (3-13 g/pot only for control with no P addition).

On the other hand, digestate of pig slurry + food and enzyme industry wastes tested at a P application rate of 150 mgP/kg soil showed a calculated RAE of only 35% (yield 49 g/pot).

The authors suggest that the RAEs higher than 100% for manures may be because organic molecules may block P adsorption sites in soil so that P remains better available for crops and indicate that this hypothesis is supported by unpublished results of soil incubation experiments testing pig and cattle manures.

All the sewage sludges and sludge pyrolysis/HTC materials showed low RAEs (when tested at 150 gP/kg). Calculated RAEs were 6 – 68% for the sewage sludges, with yields of 17 – 66 g/pot. Calculated RAEs were 1 – 6% for the sludge or manure pyrolysis/HTC materials, with yields of 5 – 17 g/pot at 150 gP/kg.

The authors identify that the combined iron and aluminium content of the organic materials, i.e. molar ratio (Fe+Al):P, is a very good predictor of RAE for organic residues, correlating negatively to barley grain yield in these pot trials. Calcium was not a good predictor, as were also not phosphorus solubility/extraction methods (formic acid, citric acid, NAC, water, NaHCO3). 
“Predicting relative agronomic efficiency of phosphorus-rich organic residues”, K. Ylivainio et al., Science of the Total Environment 773 (2021) 145618, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145618

 

Stay informed

ESPP relaunches social media

After a period of dormancy due to organisation changes, ESPP is relaunching our social media channels: LinkedIn and Twitter. ESPP is now working for communications with ETA – Florence Renewable Energies, a company with over 25 years’ experience promoting green innovation, especially for events, platforms and industry associations in the bioenergy sector.

Subscribe ESPP’s social media channels LinkedIn and Twitter to get up-to-date news on nutrients.

Link us on your own channels. Send us information to disseminate.

  

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 1 2021

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews051
Download as PDF

Events 
Postponement ESPC4 and PERM to 2022 
CRU Phosphates 2021: “the” phosphate industry event 
Webinar series: recycled nutrients in Organic Agriculture 
EIP-Agri “Healthy Soils” event

EU policy 
Call for input: manure and animal by-products in EU fertilisers 
Call for input: recycling nutrients into animal feeds 
EU policy for algae 
Recycled nutrients in Organic Farming 
EU consultation on Soil Strategy 
Nutrient stewardship and farmers 
EU consultation: Zero Pollution Ambition 
EU consultation: industrial and agricultural emissions 
Public and specialist consultations: Sewage Sludge Use in Farming

Phosphogypsum 
IFA aiming for 100% use of phosphogypsum 
Prayon: near 100% phosphogypsum recycling 
Phosagro: phosphogypsum valorisation in road building 

EU Fertilising Products Regulation 
Public consultation on STRUBIAS (Fertilising Products Regulation) 
Technical adjustments of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 
Industry joint letter on additives and REACH 

Research 
Phos4You videos on P-recovery 
Science reviews on algae for wastewater treatment 
Sustainable diets are good for health  
Crab shell waste tested for P-removal from sewage effluent 
Calcined fish bones as fertiliser 
Possible significance of phosphine in global P cycles 
Study suggests healthier diets increases dietary P intake 
Organic Farming can only feed the world with food system changes 
Calcium phosphate citrate nanoparticles effective in targeting cancer tumours 
How not to do Life Cycle Analysis  
Stricter nutrient thresholds needed for rivers 
Urban nitrogen budgets overview 

ESPP members


Events

Postponement ESPC4 and PERM to 2022

Given the ongoing international corona virus situation, it is decided to postpone ESPC4 and PERM (4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference and European Phosphorus Research Meeting) to 2022, Vienna, as a physical conference (previous planned dates, now cancelled, Vienna 31st May – 2nd June 2021). New 2020 dates will be announced shortly, in Vienna, probably June 2020
https://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

CRU Phosphates 2021: “the” phosphate industry event

Phosphates 2021 logo Members of ESPP benefit from a 10% reduction for registration to “Phosphates 2021”, online 23-25 March 2021. This is the only major global event for the phosphate mining, processing, phosphorus chemicals and phosphate fertiliser industries, and brings together over 400 industry participants every year. This year’s Phosphates conference is online, with virtual exhibition and networking centre, interactive discussion groups, conference presentations with Q&A. Registration prices are considerably lower than usual. 
https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/register


Webinar series: recycled nutrients in Organic Agriculture

FiBL and RELACS are organising five 2-hour webinars to exchange between researchers and Organic Farming stakeholders to gather knowledge on potential risks of use of recycled fertilisers, e.g. organic contaminants, pathogens and microplastics.

Introduction – 3 March 2021, 14h-16h Paris time (CET) 
Organic contaminants and other risks, - 11 March 2021, 10h -12h  Paris time (CET)
How to recycle nutrients from household wastes and the food industry, 17 March 2021, 14h – 16h Paris time (CET) 
How to recycle nutrients from human excreta, 12 April 2021, 14h – 16h Paris summer time (CEST) 
Socioeconomic aspects and final discussion , 22 April 2021, 10h – 12h Paris summer time (CEST) 
To register, contact:


EIP-Agri “Healthy Soils” event

The call for participants is open to 14th February for the EU R&D EIP-AGRI seminar on healthy soils, 13-14 April 2021. The aim is to share knowledge, experience and innovation concerning on-farm actions to improve soil health, related to productivity, nutrient cycling, water, carbon sequestration and climate change. 
Call for expression of interest to 14th February 2021 here. 

EU policy

Call for input: manure and animal by-products in EU fertilisers

ESPP has discussed with the European Commission DG SANTE obstacles to nutrient recycling from animal by-products into EU fertilisers. To date, DG SANTE has only requested an EFSA Opinion (European Food Safety Agency) on those animal by-products which are already authorised for use as fertilisers (subject to certain constraints) under the Animal By-Product Regulation 142/2011. This mandate not given to EFSA until May 2020, whereas animal by-products were already an empty box in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation since March 2016 – see ESPP eNews n°50. DG SANTE indicated that EFSA has space to assess (for use in CE-Mark fertilisers) other recycled nutrient products derived from animal by-products, and suggested that industry submit dossiers to EFSA, via Member States. If your company produces a fertilising product from animal by-products, which you wish to be eligible for the CE Mark (under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation), please contact ESPP to discuss possibly preparing a dossier.

Call for input: recycling nutrients into animal feeds

The above meeting with EC DG SANTE also concluded that the current regulatory obstacles to recycling of secondary nutrients into animal feeds should be addressed. The EU Animal Feed Regulation 767/2009 (art. 6(1) and Annex III $1 and $5) currently excludes materials derived from manure “irrespective of any form of treatment” or from municipal or industrial wastewater “irrespective of any further processing”. This means that recovering commodity chemicals (e.g. phosphoric acid) from such secondary nutrients is problematic, in that it could be considered that these should only be sold subject to traceability and labelling “not to be used in animal feeds”. It was agreed that ESPP should collate short dossiers from companies operating such recovery processes, summarising possible secondary nutrient inputs, final products, process, contaminants, safety and potential market. The European Commission will then consider possible approaches to this problem. Please contact ESPP if your company wishes to provide input to this.

EU policy for algae

ESPP made input to the public consultation (closed 18th January 2021) on development of an EU policy for the algae sector. ESPP underlined that the proposed Roadmap did not actively address actively address the important potential for recycling of secondary nutrients and CO2 to feed algae (Circular Economy), that is combining algal production with wastewater and/or offgas cleaning. Algae production is already used full scale to treat municipal wastewaters, in particular for nutrient removal, thus recycling secondary nutrients to feed the algal production and enabling nutrient recovery. Algae can also be used to treat other wastewaters, including digestate. ESPP underlined that use of secondary streams is the only sustainable way to supply the nutrients needed if algae are to be produced large-scale, e.g. for biofuels. ESPP’s consultation input requests actions to clarify the eligibility of waste-grown algae for use under EU fertilisers and animal feed regulations, subject to appropriate safety criteria, and to define safety standards for algae grown on waste streams. 
Public consultation “Blue bioeconomy - towards a strong and sustainable EU algae sector”, closed 18th January 2021, contributions consultable here.

Recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

ESPP has engaged with IFOAM Organics Europe and the EU project RELACS (Replacing Contentious Inputs in Organic Farming Systems, or Improving Inputs for Organic Farming, see ESPP eNews n°33 and n°40) to identify which recycled nutrient products could be acceptable or desirable as inputs to Organic Farming. The EU Organic Farming Regulation 2018/848 specifies as a principle “recycling of wastes and by-products of plant and animal origin as input in plant and livestock production”. The Organic Farming movement also has concerns about not using input materials which facilitate intensive farming, agronomic behaviour of recycled fertilisers, needs for different nutrients, chemicals used and LCA of recycling processes, possible contaminants. ESPP has submitted, for consideration by IFOAM and RELACS experts, twenty Fact Sheets, prepared by companies operating nutrient recycling processes, presenting product case studies different recycled nutrient products, including ash-recovered materials, struvites, biochars/pyrolysis, P, N, K, S and Fe materials.

EU consultation on Soil Strategy

A public consultation questionnaire is open on the future EU Soil Strategy to 28 April 2021. ESPP made input to the Roadmap for this consultation in December 2020. ESPP’s input to the current consultation will underline the importance of nutrients and of organic carbon for soil quality and fertility, links to EU water, sewage sludge and Farm-to-Fork policies, the value of recycling of nutrients and organic carbon, and the need to reduce contaminants in secondary nutrient sources (e.g. PFAS, persistent plastics additives, veterinary pharmaceuticals). 
EU public consultation questionnaire “Healthy soils – new EU soil strategy”
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12634-New-EU-Soil-Strategy-healthy-soil-for-a-healthy-life

Nutrient stewardship and farmers

ESPP President, Ludwig Hermann, presented European phosphorus flows, phosphorus recovery possibilities and the SYSTEMIC project at a conference on “Sustainable Nutrient Supply” organised by the Government of the Austrian Federal State (Bundesland) Upper Austria, 9th December 2020, with around 100 farmers and agricultural stakeholders. The presentation addressed the overuse of nitrogen and phosphorus resources, planetary boundaries and EU water quality targets in the context of the European Green Deal and the Farm-to-Fork Strategy. The new EU Fertilising Products Regulation was summarised, and an overview of approaches and techniques for P-recovery and recycling was presented, with success stories from different countries. The presentation will be summarised in an article to be published in April 2021 in the journal “Der Pflanzenarzt”, circulated to 2 500 farmers and agricultural advisors. 
Conference recording: https://blickinsland.at/boden-wasser-schutz-tagung-2020/ (in German)

EU consultation : Zero Pollution Ambition

Open to 10 February 2021. See ESPP eNews n°50
“EU Action Plan Towards a Zero Pollution Ambition for air, water and soil” HERE

EU consultation: industrial and agricultural emissions

Open to 23rd March 2021. See ESPP eNews n°50 
Public consultation “IED-EPRTR-Revision-OPC-2020” https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12583-Industrial-pollution-revision-of-the-European-Pollutant-Release-and-Transfer-Register-/public-consultation

Public and specialist consultations: Sewage Sludge Use in Farming

The public consultation on the Sewage Sludge Directive is open to 5 March 2021. Key questions concern contaminants and nutrient and organic carbon recycling. See ESPP eNews n°50

Additionally, a targeted stakeholder consultation has been mandated to Trinomics, and information is being collected via specific questionnaires, from wastewater and sludge processing stakeholders, agricultural and consumer associations, academics and experts, NGOs. If you wish to input to this specialist consultation, you should contact Trinomics by email here
Public consultation on the Sewage Sludge Directive HERE 

Phosphogypsum

IFA aiming for 100% use of phosphogypsum

The International Fertilizer Association (IFA) second phosphogypsum report outlines how to achieve the objective of 100% safe and sustainable use of phosphogypsum (PG), a major by-product of phosphoric acid production from phosphate rock, which in the past has often been stacked as a waste (PG is mainly calcium sulphate, resulting from the reaction of sulphuric acid with phosphate rock). The report outlines quality protocols and regulatory trends for PG use, and presents innovative case studies and country cases. Uses, depending on PG properties, can include agriculture, road building and cement production. PG provides sulphur and calcium to soils and the report presents examples of trials carried out in partnership with science and regulators in Canada (poplar, willow, squash, potato), Russia (rice, soybean, corn, wheat, flax), Kazakhstan (cotton), Morocco (rape, barley, maize). The case of Brazil is presented, where some 10 million tonnes / year of PG are today produced. Agricultural use in the Cerrado region improves the acid soil and provides sulphur, need by soybeans. Brazil now uses all PG currently produced and has started ‘mining’ historic waste stacks, with the objective of depleting these in the coming 7 years or so, enabling return to farming of the land currently used for the stacks. 
“Phosphogypsum Leadership Innovation Partnership”, IFA, 2020. HERE.

Prayon: near 100% phosphogypsum recycling

Prayon, Engis, Belgium, is presented as a case study in the IFA document (above), as the company today recycles almost 100% of its nearly 800 000 t/y of phosphogypsum (PG) production to agriculture (8%) and construction products (production of stucco plaster by Kauf, 92%). This has been enabled by a reengineering of the production process and new purification technologies over recent decades, to generate a clean, quality PG, whilst at the same time increases P recovery rates from phosphate rock, improving phosphogypsum filtration and drying. The PG used in agriculture brings calcium and sulphur, but also retains water. This water retention property has also been shown to enable biodiversity improvement (anthrosol species). 
“Phosphogypsum Leadership Innovation Partnership”, IFA, 2020.

Phosagro: phosphogypsum valorisation in road building

The Russia Federal Road Agency has approved hemi-hydrate phosphogypsum (HHPG) as a roadbed material for all classes of roads. This follows R&D led by Phosagro, using both HHPG. Tests show that the pressure on soils is nearly three times lower using HHPG than with conventional granulates, because the HHPG forms a high-strength lightweight slab, spreading pressure and so reducing deformations of road surface materials. The HHPG offers high tensile strength and elasticity, performs well in marshy terrain and is resistant to deformation when frozen. Use of sand and granulates can be reduced by 45 – 75%, so reducing environmental damage from quarrying, and enabling significant cost savings. To date, some 180 000 m2 of road have been build using HHPG, with up to 11 years of road life already. 
“Phosphogypsum Leadership Innovation Partnership”, IFA, 2020.

EU Fertilising Products Regulation

Public consultation on STRUBIAS (Fertilising Products Regulation)

The final EU public consultation on the “STRUBIAS” criteria for struvite and phosphate salts, ash / ash derived materials and biochars and pyrolysis materials is extended to 15th February 2021. It is ESPP’s understanding that this consultation is a formality, prior to official publication of the criteria. The criteria have been discussed at length in the JRC STRUBIAS group and in the EU Fertilising Products Expert Group (ESPP is a member of both). ESPP will input indicating that we support the proposed criteria, which are important for placing on the market of recycled fertilising products and for the roll-out of nutrient recycling technologies, and that the criteria proposed are the result of detailed consultation and dialogue. ESPP will underline the problem that animal by-products (including manures) cannot yet be included in STRUBIAS fertilisers, because DG SANTE has not yet engaged the process of defining Animal By-Product ‘End-Points’ for relevant STRUBIAS materials and has not yet submitted a mandate for this to EFSA. ESPP also regrets that sewage sludge biochars are excluded in the proposed STRUBIAS criteria and reminds of the JRC commitment to further research this question. 
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12136-Pyrolysis-and-gasification-materials-in-EU-fertilising-products 
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12162-Thermal-oxidation-materials-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products 
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12163-Precipitated-phosphate-salts-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products

Technical adjustments of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation

A public consultation on technical modifications to the Annexes of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation is open to 2 March 2021. As for the STRUBIAS annexes above, this consultation is intended to be a formality, prior to official adoption. The modifications concern traces of substances subject to limits for food and feed (limit values, labelling), clarifications concerning fertilising products which also have a plant protection effect, typologies of micronutrient fertilisers, contaminants in certain growing media, acceptance of natural, biodegradable and soluble polymers (e.g. in processing and handling additives), chelating agents, tolerance rules for labelling, fiberised plant materials, category 2 & 3 animal by products (including manures) in composts and digestates. 
Public consultation open to 2 March 2021 “Fertilising products - technical update https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12135-Technical-amendments-to-the-annexes-to-the-Fertilising-Products-Regulation

Industry joint letter on additives and REACH

ESPP coordinated late 2020 a joint letter to the European Commission, DG GROW, expressing a number of questions on interpretation, and industry concerns about practicality of implementation of the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FRP). The points raised concern treatment of technical additives in CMCs (Component Material Categories), unreacted processing agents, chemical reactions between additives and CMC materials, and related REACH registration requirements. We have now received a detailed and documented reply from DG GROW. For a number of the points raised, the Commission concurs that questions exist and indicates that clarification will be included in Commission interpretation guidance (FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions document). The Commission’s answer also clarifies for some aspects what actions fertilising products manufacturers need to take with their supply chain to ensure that additives respect FRP-specific REACH requirements. 
European Commission “FAQ” for the Fertilising Products Regulation – note that this document is updated regularly - here
Joint industry letter and European Commission reply here.

Research

Phos4You videos on P-recovery

The EU Interreg project Phos4You has published several short videos offering overviews of routes for phosphorus recovery from sewage recovery. An ‘Overview’ (1’40) summarises different routes via sludge incineration or from sewage sludge, adapted to both smaller rural or larger urban wastewater treatment plants. Recovery via sludge incineration is summarised for the EuPhoRe process (1’11), where phosphorus is retained in the sludge ash used as fertiliser, tested by Emschergenossenschaft at Dinslaken, Germany, or other processes (presented by Innovatherm, 1’18) where the phosphorus is recovered as e.g. phosphoric acid. Trials of P-recovery via micro-algae or using fishery-waste adsorbents, appropriate for smaller sewage works, are presented (Glasgow Caledonian University, Veolia FiltraflowP, 1’34) 
Phos4You videos.

Science reviews on algae for wastewater treatment

A review of micro-algae in wastewater treatment from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, summarises data from nearly 40 studies. These are essentially laboratory work, with only two using reactors > 1 m3. Most of these studies show, in laboratory conditions, the ability of micro-algae systems to reduce phosphorus to low levels (e.g. < 0.5 mgP/l).  Technologies are discussed including algae freely suspended in water, biofilms and algae immobilised in beads. No economic data are provided. The paper concludes that “micro-algae systems incur little or no operational costs”, but this ignores maintenance costs for cell immobilisation, biofilms, membranes, or inputs of light or CO2. A second review from China, summarises different micro-algae strains used, technologies (including diagrams: open ponds, photo bio reactor (PBR), membrane PBR, microalgae film, multilayer bioreactors, …). 11 studies testing with real wastewater are identified, but only one of these provides a cost estimate (0.1 US$/m3 operating costs, Sheng 2017). 
“Integrating micro-algae into wastewater treatment: A review”, S. Mohsenpour et al., Science of the Total Environment 752 (2021) 142168, DOI
“Microalgae-based wastewater treatment for nutrients recovery: A review”, K. Li et al., Bioresource Technology 291 (2019) 121934, DOI. 

Sustainable diets are good for health

Two new studies confirm that diets which are good for the environment are also good for health.

Jarmul et al. reviewed literature on the environmental footprint of ‘sustainable’ diets, finding 18 studies (412 data points), covering 12 diet patterns, 7 health endpoints and 6 environmental endpoints. For nearly 90% of data points, sustainable diets showed positive health effects. Sustainable diets showed on average -25% lower greenhouse emissions (-70% lower for vegan diets), but water use (often) and land use (sometimes) were higher for sustainable diets, compared to baseline diets. Phosphorus use was generally estimated to be slightly lower (often reduction less than -10%) for sustainable diets, with nitrogen use showing somewhat larger reductions.

Scheelbeek et al. 2020 analysed real data from 557 722 participants for health outcomes and 5747 participants for environmental footprints from three UK cohort studies (EPIC, Biobank, NDNS), concluding that less than 0.1% adhere to all nine UK Eat Well Guide (EWG) recommendations, but 31% adhere to at least five of these recommendations. Health outcomes were recorded after 3 – 20 year follow-up, and showed 7% reduction in mortality for intermediate/high (compared to low) adherence to EWG recommendations. Environmental footprint was calculated from detailed food data from the participants, and showed that adherence to recommendations led to - 1.5 kg CO2eq/day and - 23 l water use/day. 
“Climate change mitigation through dietary change: a systematic review of empirical and modelling studies on the environmental footprints and health effects of ‘sustainable diets’ “, S. Jarmul et al. 2020 Environ. Res. Lett. 15 123014 DOI
“Health impacts and environmental footprints of diets that meet the Eatwell Guide recommendations: analyses of multiple UK studies”, P. Scheelbeek et al., BMJ Open 2020;10:e037554 DOI.

Crab shell waste tested for P-removal from sewage effluent

Within the Phos4You Project (INTERREG VB North-West Europe), Veolia (with the FILTRAFLOTM-P system) and the Environmental Research Institute (North Highland College, UHI, Scotland) are testing processed crab shell waste as a phosphorus adsorbent for tertiary phosphate removal from sewage effluent. Similar approaches have been used previously with other shell and shellfish wastes as P-adsorbents, often after thermal treatment (calcination and sanitisation), including oyster shells (SCOPE Newsletter n°84), mussel shells (SCOPE 89), snail shells (SCOPE 101) and brine-shrimp shells (SCOPE 119).

In this case, the crab shell/carapace (brown crab Cancer pagurus) is washed, dried, milled, then treated with potassium hydroxide to generate a stable, easy to handle, granular material (non-respirable), rich in chitosan and calcium carbonate (see Pap et al. 2020a and 2020b). The material was tested at the Scottish Water Horizons’ Development Centre at Bo’ness (operational WWTP), Scotland, operating a pilot-scale reactor (inflow 200 litres/hour, using between 15-20 kg of adsorbent material) for six weeks (four separate trials) as a tertiary treatment option (on secondary treated discharge). Quality assessment of the saturated adsorbent demonstrated c. 8% organic carbon content dw (total carbon c. 15% dw, part is inorganic) and a 1.1 – 1.3% P dw content, as well as other agronomically valuable components such as potassium (partly from the KOH), calcium, magnesium and chitin/chitosan, with very low heavy metal and organic pollutant levels and no target bacterial pathogens. Future work will involve pot (and/or field) plant growth trials to observe P uptake/availability (starting spring 2021). 

filtraflo
FILTRAFLOTM-P crab carapace-based P-adsorbent https://www.nweurope.eu/media/12161/phos4you_p-rich_biomass_en_nov2020.pdf 

Calcined fish bones as fertiliser

Trials show that fish bones calcined at 300°C – 900°C are an effective fertiliser. The fish bones were from Round Sardinella (Sardinella aurita) collected from women filleting fish in the port of Saint Louis, Senegal, and were manually separated from offal and heads, then washed and scraped to remove organic tissue. They were then calcined at 300°C, 600°C or 900°C. The lower temperature calcination material contained organic products from collagen and fatty acids, and poorly crystalline hydroxyapatite (HAP), whereas 600°C and 900°C materials showed negligible organics and more crystalline HAP/TCP (tri calcium phosphate).  The samples were tested for impact on germination and initial growth of Garden Cress (Lepidum sativum), all showing positive impacts in particular the 900°C material.  They were then tested for fertiliser effect in 3-week pot trials with maize (Zea mays), soil pH 6.7. All three samples showed fertiliser effect (compared to control – no comparison was made to commercial fertiliser) but surprisingly the more crystalline 900°C calcined material (with lower solubility) showed higher maize biomass growth. The authors suggest that this may be because of the ‘biostimulant’ effect, as shown on the Cress. A previous paper by the same authors showed biostimulant effects on maize of nano-hydroxyapatite functionalised with humic substances, improving early growth, productivity (3 months), rhizosphere bacteria and salt stress resistance. 
“Thermal conversion of fish bones into fertilizers and biostimulants for plant growth – A low tech valorization process for the development of circular economy in least developed countries”, F. Carella, A. Adamiano et al., J. Environmental Chemical Engineering 9 (2021) 104815, DOI
“Synergistic Release of Crop Nutrients and Stimulants from Hydroxyapatite Nanoparticles Functionalized with Humic Substances: Toward a Multifunctional Nanofertilizer”, H. Y. Yoon, A. Adamiano et al., ACS Omega 2020, 5, 6598−6610, DOI. 

Possible significance of phosphine in global P cycles

A review of available information on phosphine (PH3) suggests that this form of phosphorus may be significant in global P cycles, in waste management and in links to climate change, but concludes that data is today insufficient to reach conclusions. Phosphine is  a reactive gas which competes with methane and other reactive gases for hydroxyl radicals in the atmosphere, so prolonging their greenhouse impact. It is oxidised in air to phosphoric acid or phosphate ions, which may contribute to cloud formation, also impacting climate. It is estimated that around 40 000 t/y of phosphine is released to the atmosphere, representing around 10% of airborne phosphorus (to put into perspective: estimates suggest atmospheric deposition of P to the Mediterranean Sea is around half of that from rivers and coastal cities, see ESPP eNews n°43). Phosphine concentrations have been shown to be significantly higher in urban areas, and emissions can be related to anaerobic conditions (paddy fields, manure management, sewage treatment). Phosphate can be reduced to phosphine in redox conditions below -300mV. In specific conditions, up to nearly 20% of P removed from sewage in an oxygen limited membrane reactor was released as phosphine, and the authors suggest that this may be a possible route for P-recovery. 
“Global phosphorus dynamics in terms of phosphine”, W. Fu & W. Zhang, Climate and Atmospheric Science (2020) 3:51 ; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41612-020-00154-7

Study suggests healthier diets increases dietary P intake

A study based on the McCance & Widdowson Composition of Foods Database, suggests that today’s average UK (meat-eater) diet has P intake of 1.35 gP/day, has decreased since the 1940s (it was around 1.6 gP/person/day in the 1950’s), but could increase if people start to adopt more vegetable intensive diets. Today’s average P intake is significantly lower than a vegetarian (1.53 gP/d = +13%), vegan (1.63 gP/d = +20%) or the  proposed EAT-Lancet sustainable diet, see ESPP eNews n°48 (1.85 = +37%). Comparison of the Foods Database to data from UK food surveys suggests that the % of diet P coming from processed (as opposed to fresh foods) has increased from around 20% in the 1940’s to over 50% in 2016, corresponding to a general increase in consumption of processed foods. The % of diet P in animal products (meat, dairy, eggs, fish) increased from around 48% in 1942 to 59% in 1973 and then decreased back to c. 50% by 2016.

The authors found close agreement between the P load entering sewage work, calculated from detailed Environment Agency data, and the dietary P burden calculated from the diet surveys after accounting for estimated industry contributions.

Increased P intake with future sustainable diets and population growth would result in increased P in the inflow of many sewage works. The authors state that this could result in “greater non-compliance with regulatory targets for P discharge” assuming current treatment levels and if treatment efficiency (% P removed) stays constant as inflow P load increases. The view of ESPP, however, is that  that for sewage works with a P-discharge consent, increased inflow P will generally not result in increased P discharge, because discharge is managed to respect the consent level (see Evans 2007), although it may result in increased treatment costs (increased chemical dosing, increased biosolids production). It would also result in increased P inputs to the environment in storm overflows. Some large UK sewage works do not today have a P discharge consent, because they do not discharge into eutrophication sensitive* waters. Around 3% of the UK population are not connected to sewerage and a further c. 3% are connected to small sewage works not subject to P discharge consents (figures taken from the study supplementary information p.3). Additionally, not considered in this study, around 3% of sewage is lost in exfiltration from sewage pipes before reaching the sewage works (from Gilmour et al. 2004). That is, in total maybe 10% of sewage is not entering sewage works with P discharge consents, and for this part increased sewage P levels will partly reach the environment and have environmental impacts.

The authors conclude planning and investment should take into account possible increases in P entering sewage works with healthier diets, in order to maximise recovery and recycling of this phosphorus. 
“Plant-based diets add to the wastewater phosphorus burden, K. Forber et al., Environ. Res. Lett. 15 (2020) 094018 
https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab9271 
* the EU Waste Water Treatment Directive 91/271/EEC defines (Annex II) Sensitive Areas as waters which are “eutrophic or which in the near future may become eutrophic if protective action is not taken”.

Organic Farming can only feed the world with food system changes

A food system analysis of global agriculture suggests that a complete conversion to Organic Farming would require a “huge” increase in land use ( > +30% ) if other changes in the food system are not made, in particular reductions in food waste and in consumption of animal products. Only 20% conversion to Organic Farming would be possible without increasing land use by more than 5%, without other food system changes. Impact on phosphorus surplus is considered negligible, whereas nitrogen surplus would be completely avoided. However, it is noted that nitrogen supply for Organic Farming is a challenge, which previous authors conclude could only be met if cropping intensities were increased and fallow land and intercropping were to be systematically used for legume production, which may not be possible because of e.g. water supply and feasibility of legume production in intercropping in some regions (see Badgley C et al., 2007, Connor D. et al. 2008 and 2013). 
“Strategies for feeding the world more sustainably with organic agriculture”, A. Muller et al., Nature Comunications, 8, 1290, 2017, DOI

Calcium phosphate citrate nanoparticles effective in targeting cancer tumours

Tests on mice suggest that phosphate nanoparticles can reduce cancer tumours. A colloid of mesoporous amorphous nanoparticles with a very high surface area (Brunauer-Emmett-Teller > 900 m2/g) was produced by reacting Ca, P and citric acid at a ratio of 5:3:5. The particles were then coated in lipid or casein. These particles are non-toxic and release non-toxic molecules if broken down in the body, but can selectively kill cancer cells. The cancer cells take in the nanoparticles, leading to high intracellular levels of calcium and citrate which kills them. In vivo tests confirmed that the coated particles strongly decreased the viability of cancer cell lines, at concentrations down to 30 µg/l, but did not significantly reduce normal cell viability at up to 100 µg/l.  Tests with mice showed that the particles reduced the size of two different aggressive pleural tumours by 40% and 70% after two applications, whereas up to eight applications showed no other adverse effects. 
“Synergistic Combination of Calcium and Citrate in Mesoporous Nanoparticles Targets Pleural Tumors”, C. von Shirnding et al., Chem 7, 1–15, 2020 DOI.

How not to do Life Cycle Analysis

A paper in Science of the Total Environment by Golroudbary et al. claims in its conclusions that “phosphorus recycling is not a sustainable solution in a longer perspective”. The paper claims to compare energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for P-recycling with those from phosphate rock mining and mineral fertiliser production. However, the authors seem to misuse data not relevant for P-recycling, and their conclusions are based on an inappropriate LCA allocation of all sewage works emissions to P-recovery, ignoring the fact that the principal function and obligation of the sewage works is to treat sewage.

LCA allocation factors are not mentioned in the paper, whereas a completely inappropriate 100% allocation factor is given to recovered P, zero to N, zero to clean water.

The authors base their analysis of energy demand for P-recycling on only a few papers, in particular Sanders 2003 (pig manure), Ye 2019 (wastewater, no quantitative data on energy or chemicals use), Piippo 2018 (wastewater, comparison of GHG emissions from different sewage sludge treatment routes in Northern Finland), Spångberg 2014 (wastewater, see below) and Buratti 2015 (solid waste).

They conclude that “70% of the GHG emissions from P-recycling is caused by wastewater processing”. This claims to be confirmed in the paper’s supplementary information, where “Energy requirements for wastewater recycling” are indicated as “179 MJ/0.15 kgP” taken from Spångberg 2014. In Spångberg, it is clear that this energy consumption (179 MJ) is for removing both 1.21 kgN and 0.15 kgP in a sewage works operating chemical P removal, not for removing phosphorus only, and not for recycling these nutrients. Attributing this number only to phosphorus recovery is therefore incorrect. Furthermore, and fundamentally, as the authors themselves point out, sewage treatment and phosphorus removal are in any case necessary for environmental protection. The conclusions comparing energy consumption and GHG emissions for P-recycling from sewage to phosphate rock mining and mineral fertiliser production are thus based on a false starting point.

The use of Sanders 2003 is equally inappropriate. This paper considers the overall LCA of several options for management of pig-manure, mostly assessing nitrogen not phosphorus. Use of this data to draw conclusions concerning emissions related to P-recycling is again incorrect, in that the manure must be managed in any case.

Buratti 2015, used for “solid waste”, is also not appropriate. This paper compares composting of food waste to production of chemical fertilisers for the same nutrient value, but again is not relevant for assessing emissions related to P-recycling because the treatment of the food waste is necessary in any case.

The Golroudbary paper is illustrative in several ways: 17 pages of mathematic formulae will not lead to useful results if inappropriate data and system allocations are used; life cycle analyses can be made to say different things depending how the ‘Functional Unit’ and ‘Boundaries’ are defined and how emissions are “allocated” to different functions; “peer reviewed” does not mean scientifically meaningful.

Note that the above is not in any way a criticism of the different papers cited by Golroudbary. These papers are respectable studies, which do what they claim to do, and their authors obviously cannot be held responsible for their subsequent misuse. 
“Environmental sustainability of phosphorus recycling from wastewater, manure and solid wastes”, Science of the Total Environment 672 (2019) 515–524 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.03.439 

Stricter nutrient thresholds needed for rivers

An assessment (1) based on nearly 1 000 samples comparing vegetation samples in rivers to nutrient concentrations in the Central-Baltic Region of Europe (Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania,  Luuxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland) suggests that nutrient thresholds currently set by some countries are too high to achieve Good Ecological Status (as defined by the EU Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC = WFD). The authors, led by the European Commission JRC Ispra, looked at both macrophytes (plants) and phytobenthos (bottom vegetation, algae and plants), concluding that both should be considered, compared to soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP), total phosphorus (TP) and total nitrogen (TN). They compared nutrient levels to EQRs (Ecological Quality Ratios), that is ratios between observed data for macrophytes and phytobenthos and expected ‘reference’ conditions (natural state in the water body), with assessment using the methods defined by each country in WFD intercalibration, e.g. density, species or taxon variety. They conclude that thresholds for Good Ecological Quality range from 30 - 90 µg/SRP/l and 1.0 – 3.5 mgTN/l, varying with river size, altitude and alkalinity. These are ln some cases lower that the boundaries set by Member States which range from 70 to 130 µgSRP/l and 2.3 – 10.0 mgTN/l.

A previous paper (2), led by the same authors at EU JRC Ispra, highlights the wide variety of different nutrient criteria used by EU Member States for quality status assessment under the Water Framework Directive, concluding that in some cases inappropriate criteria may be hindering achievement of good status. Different nutrients (N or P) are used for different water categories, whereas recent research shows that co-limitation is not uncommon. Difference in methods (soluble or total N or P, season of assessment, metrics) mean that thresholds are not comparable. Nutrient criteria are in some cases not clearly related to biological response, and so good ecological status. Criteria fixed by expert judgement tend to be higher (less demanding) than those based on data and modelling. Some countries are using thresholds “significantly above” known limiting nutrient concentrations, or even criteria taken from drinking water standards, which are not intended for this purpose. 
(1) “Estimating river nutrient concentrations consistent with good ecological condition: More stringent nutrient thresholds needed Ecological Indicators”, S. Poikane (EU JRC Ispra) et al., 121 (2021) 107017 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2020.107017 
(2) “Nutrient criteria for surface waters under the European Water Framework Directive: Current state-of-the-art, challenges and future outlook”, S. Poikane et al., Science of the Total Environment 695 (2019) 133888, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.133888 
See also: “Deriving nutrient criteria to support ʽgoodʼ ecological status in European lakes: An empirically based approach to linking ecology and management”, S. Poikane et al., Science of the Total Environment 650 (2019) 2074–2084, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.09.350

Urban nitrogen budgets overview

An interesting analysis of different approaches to nitrogen flow and stock studies for urban areas. Over 60 studies are referenced and information drawn from around twenty of these is outlined and discussed. Nitrogen budget studies in the past have looked at soil systems, at water (river transported N comparing upstream and downstream of a city), atmospheric emissions, human and animal food chain, waste and wastewater treatment. Several studies note that nitrogen fertilisers are often used at very high rates in urban areas, both on lawns and in small farms on crops such as vegetables. Little data was found on nitrogen flows and losses in solid waste treatment. Wastewater treatment showed more significant nitrogen emissions (N2O, ammonia) both to air and to water and often low levels of nitrogen recycling.

Svirejeva-Hopkins, looking at Paris, suggested that the largest N flow was in human food, with around half of this N being finally converted to N2 in wastewater treatment, but the largest environmental impact was from fossil fuel burning, in particular traffic.

Studies, such as L. Baker 2001, suggesting accumulation of N stocks in cities may be flawed.

Several studies for Beijing (Zhang 2016, 2018, 2020) show that total N flows have increased slowly (+1% per year 1996-2012, with N input to farmland and animal feed falling considerably but transport emissions increasing strongly.

Overall, nitrogen recycling rates tend to be very low, e.g. 7% for Bangkok (Faerge 2001). The authors note the difficulty to compare studies, because methodologies differ, and the need to engage with experts beyond scientists to assess relevant flows and processes.

“Urban nitrogen budgets: flows and stock changes of potentially polluting nitrogen compounds in cities and their surroundings – a review”, W. Winiwater et al., J Integrative Env Sciences, vol. 17, n°1, 57-71, 2020 DOI.


ESPP members

ESPP members logos 1 2021

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews050
Download as PDF

Consultations open

STRUBIAS (Fertilising Products Regulation) final criteria public consultation

EU consultation on Animal Feed : Circular Economy not considered
EU consultation : Zero Pollution Ambition
EU consultation: algae production and use
EU consultation: food “nutrient profiles”
EU consultation: industrial and agricultural emissions
EU consultation: Sewage Sludge Use in Farming
Events
CRU Phosphates 2021: “the” phosphate industry event
Save the date: Phos4You Final Conference
EAT – RagnSells webinar on nutrient circular economy
Insect production for sustainable food and feed
SERA-17 annual meeting: agricultural phosphorus run-off
Policy and science
ESPP input to EU Soil Strategy
Analysis and plant tests of 24 commercial struvites
Renewable Nutrients / QuickWash update
EIP-AGRI “Ideas for Operational Groups”
Students input to EU nutrient action plan
Regulatory options to align livestock farming with environmental objectives
EU Fertilising Products Regulation
JRC “By-Product” 2nd report open for comment
STRUBIAS criteria finalised
Possible new CMCs 9
Why are animal by-products not moving towards the circular economy? 9
ESPP members news
ESPP new member: P-TRAP
Ostara purchases fertiliser granulation facility
Call for partners P-recovery via incineration / gasification
ESPP members

 

Consultations open

STRUBIAS (Fertilising Products Regulation) final criteria public consultation

Open to 1st February 2021. The EU has published the final “STRUBIAS” criteria for struvite and phosphate salts, ash / ash derived materials and biochars and pyrolysis materials, prior to adoption and official publication of the criteria.
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12136-Pyrolysis-and-gasification-materials-in-EU-fertilising-products
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12162-Thermal-oxidation-materials-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12163-Precipitated-phosphate-salts-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products

EU consultation on Animal Feed : Circular Economy not considered

Open to 25th January 2021. ESPP has input to this public consultation (see here) underlining that nutrient recycling is not addressed. The different animal feed Regulations (1831/2003, 767/2009 annex III and 178/2002) currently exclude, from use in production of animal feed additives, any nutrients resulting from processing of manure or wastewaters, even after e.g. incineration, acid extraction from ash and then solvent purification. ESPP fully supports strong safety requirements to prevent any risk of contamination in the animal feed chain, but considers that the blanket exclusion of appropriately processed nutrients poses an unnecessary barrier to nutrient recycling, by blocking added-value markets and potentially preventing sale of recovered nutrients to commodity chemicals markets.
Public consultation: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12624-Feed-additives-revision-of-EU-rules

 

EU consultation : Zero Pollution Ambition

Open to 10 February 2021. Public consultation on the EU Zero Pollution Action Plan for air, water and soil, to be adopted in 2021. The Commission’s ‘Roadmap’ outlines as key orientations to: strengthen implementation and enforcement, improve the regulatory “acquis” on health and environment (including water, waste and wastewater), address soil pollution, improve governance and drive societal change / sustainable consumption. The public consultation questionnaire asks for input on questions such as to what extent pollution is felt to be negative, which populations are most exposed, which EU policies are known, which types and sources of pollution should be priorities, possible types of action (regulatory, financial, education, …), significance of digitalisation. “Excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus)” are proposed as one of the possible priority pollutants.
“EU Action Plan Towards a Zero Pollution Ambition for air, water and soil” HERE

 

EU consultation: algae production and use

Open to 18th January 2021. This Roadmap consultation will prepare possible targeted activities to support the algae sector, maybe including regulatory measures. The document submitted to consultation recognises fertilisers and bio-stimulants amongst different uses of algae and the need of nutrient inputs to algae production. Regulatory gaps cited include limitations to use of algae based animal feeds and fertilisers, and status of algae in the Organic Farming Regulation. Possible regulatory actions cited include binding targets for substitution of fish-based aquaculture feeds. ESPP notes that the proposed Roadmap does not mention the use of algae for waste water treatment (although nutrient removal as an ecosystem service is cited).
Public consultation “Blue bioeconomy - towards a strong and sustainable EU algae sector”
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12780-Towards-a-strong-and-sustainable-EU-Algae-sector

 

EU consultation: food “nutrient profiles”

Open to 3rd February 2021. This Roadmap consultation aims to implement the action announced in the EU Farm-to-Fork Strategy on “nutrient profiles” for foods and “mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling” for food products. The Farm-to-Fork strategy specifies also an action on ‘maximum levels for certain nutrients’ in processed foods, but this is not mentioned in this Roadmap. The term ‘nutrient’ is here used to cover only “fat, saturates, sugars, salt”. ESPP notes that this will make difficult general public communication concerning the links between plant nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen …), food sustainability and health. The EU proposal does not consider phosphorus-content of food products, despite the significance of this for kidney disease patients (see ESPP eNews n°34, EFSA new ADI for phosphorus in food).
Public consultation: 
“Facilitating healthier food choices – establishing nutrient profiles” = Roadmap for a “Proposal for a revision of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers”
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12748-Setting-of-nutrient-profiles-

 

EU consultation: industrial and agricultural emissions

Open to 23rd March 2021. This EU general public consultation questionnaire addresses emissions from industrial installations, livestock production and pollutant emission monitoring and information, via the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR). ESPP will input underlining the need to better address the Circular Economy and resource consumption (questions 1, 2, 3, 8, 19, 22, 23); the importance of livestock production (intensive pig and poultry units in question 7, and proposed addition of intensive cattle rearing in question 8). ESPP also underlines that PFAS/PFOS, pharmaceuticals (human and veterinary and microplastics should be added to the E-PRTR substances list, because they pose obstacles to nutrient recycling and the Circular Economy and should be monitored and emissions reduced at source. ESPP also suggests that the E-PRTR list should be automatically updated to be coherent with the Water Framework Directive Priority Substances list (certain pharmaceuticals, HBCDD brominated flame retardant).
Public consultation “IED-EPRTR-Revision-OPC-2020” https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12583-Industrial-pollution-revision-of-the-European-Pollutant-Release-and-Transfer-Register-/public-consultation

 

EU consultation: Sewage Sludge Use in Farming

Open to 5 March 2021. Public consultation to support revision of the EU Sewage Sludge Directive 86/278, as promised in the Circular Economy Action Plan. The presentation underlines that the objective is valorisation in agriculture of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, as well as organic carbon. The questionnaire is open to individuals, stakeholders and companies and includes general questions about whether the respondent considers sludge use in agriculture to have different positive or negative effects, cost-effectiveness of agricultural sludge application, whether sludge quality is improving and which contaminants are today relevant.
A presentation to the EU Fertilisers Working Group by DG Environment (Caroline Attard) indicated that the evaluation underway of the Sludge Directive will particularly look at nutrient recycling, as well as at methane emissions, impacts of stricter wastewater treatment requirements and pollutants in sewage sludge. A study has been launched into different pollutants in sewage sludge, their sources and risks, possible mitigation according to sludge treatment methods and possibilities for removing pollutants at source. This study will also look at benefits and cost-effectiveness of different sewage sludge use or recycling routes.
Public consultation on the Sewage Sludge Directive HERE

 

Events

CRU Phosphates 2021: “the” phosphate industry event

The annual industry conference and exhibition of the world phosphates industry (mining and processing, fertilisers, feed, food, technical applications), CRU Phosphates 2021, will take place online 23-25 March 2021. This conference annually brings together over 400 delegates from phosphate rock mining, processing and different user industries and stakeholders. This year’s online event includes a virtual exhibition and networking centre, interactive discussion groups, conference presentations with Q&A. ESPP members benefit from a 10% discount (on request from ESPP) on the €440 conference fee, which is significantly cheaper than the usual physical conference.
CRU Phosphates 2021 https://bit.ly/386jzjr and events showcase page on LinkedIn

Save the date: Phos4You Final Conference

After four years of cooperation, the Phos4You Interreg project’s final conference will focus on : Recovery, processing and distribution of novel phosphorus (P) products; Technologies and processes for deploying P-recycling in urban areas ; Technologies and approaches for enabling P-recovery in remote, rural and island locations; Quality assessment of recovered P materials and LCA-LCC of P-recovery processes. The programme will include plenaries, multi-stakeholders discussions, a poster exhibition, an excursion to a Phos4You demonstrator and plenty of opportunities to enjoy, exchange and network. Speakers will be Phos4You actors in the fields of wastewater treatment and sewage sludge incineration, recovery processes and research. Stakeholders in the agri-food value chain as well as policymakers from EU and national organisations will share their knowledge and engage in discussion
Phosphorus recovery from wastewater: approaches developed within Phos4You, 22-23 September 2021
Essen - Germany & online www.nweurope.eu/phos4you

 

EAT – RagnSells webinar on nutrient circular economy

“The science-based global platform for food system transformation”, EAT is a non-profit founded by the Stordalen Foundation, Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Wellcome Trust. RagnSells (EasyMining’s mother company) organised a session on nutrients as part of the EAT@Home online event.
Pär Larshans, Ragn-Sells and Anna Lundbom, EasyMining indicated the companies’ objectives to maximise recycling, remove contaminants and ensure long-term sustainability of recycling. Sara Stiernström, EasyMining, underlined that EU regulations for both fertilisers and animal feed are based on the origin of input materials, not on the quality of the product, thus posing a fundamental and inherent obstacle to recycling.

  • Fabrice DeClerck, Director of Science at EAT, underlined that the United Nations will take critical decisions in 2021 on climate, food and the environment. Today environmental curves are still trending the wrong way, such as increases in dead zones driven by nutrient losses. Business as usual will result in +30% increases in planetary boundary transgression for phosphorus and nitrogen. Unlike climate change, the biggest potential impacts on nutrient losses come not from dietary choice, but from technology and waste reduction. The aim of respecting planetary boundaries is urgent and essential, but needs to be completed by actions towards circularity: “Farm to Flush”.
  • Asger Christensen, Member of the European Parliament, underlined the potential for technology to improve nutrient use in farming and the potential of the Circular Bioeconomy as a new business model for farmers.
  • Magnus Ek, Member of the Sweden Parliament, noted that Sweden is developing a new Circularity Strategy and Action Plan, which will include nutrients. To enable recycling, regulatory support is necessary and costs of externalities must be paid for resource consumption: today’s tax system is not fit for purpose for the circular economy.
  • Pär Dalheim, Svenskt Vatten (Sweden municipal water federation) fully supports recycling, both of water and resources present in waste water, and aims to be a resource provider in the future.
  • Klaus Kastenhofer, REWE Austria, underlined the need to convince consumers that recycled products are safe.
  • Kristina Atkisson, WWF, emphasised the need to reduce nutrient losses to the Baltic, to reduce from eutrophication. Key actions include precision farming, manure treatment to facilitate transport (so enabling better use), reduction at source of contaminants and separative sewerage. WWF supports the setting of national nutrient recycling goals and nutrient accounting.

EAT@Home https://eatforum.org/event/eat-home/
Watch all sessions at https://youtu.be/Xtzl1eyboEs
Watch the RagnSells session on nutrients https://www.ragnsells.com/eat and to watch https://youtu.be/1Pi1aZ78X30

 

 

Insect production for sustainable food and feed

300 participants (including ESPP President, Ludwig Hermann, as a panellist) joined the IPIFF (International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed) webinar on circularity in insect farming, 19th November 2020. Sabine Jülicher, European Commission DG Santé, indicated that insect production is a relevant component of sustainable food chains. She noted that the use of food waste as feedstock for insect farming will be assessed by EFSA (no timescale yet). Bas Drukker, European Commission DG Agriculture, noted that insects can be used in Organic Farming in some Member States, and that 2021 should see adoption of EU standards for insect production, and consequently for their use as human food and animal feed / aquaculture feed products, as well as standards for insect frass (insect production “manure”). William Clark, Zero Waste Scotland, and Chris Atkinson, IFOAM (EU Organic Farming federation), both underlined the role of insect production in improving local and regional food system circularity.
IPIFF “The European insect sector reaffirms its commitment to supporting the EU sustainability agenda” information 20/2/2020 and webinar recording watch here

 

SERA-17 annual meeting: agricultural phosphorus run-off

SERA-17 is an expert network on phosphorus sustainability in agriculture. The group’s 2020 annual meeting, online 15th October 2020, led by SERA-17 chair, John Kovar, USDA-ARS Iowa, discussed four operational projects underway:

  • Deanna Desmond, North Caroline State University: Collection of data on fertilisation practices and soil tests across the USA. Data from nearly 1300 field trials and 60 questionnaire responses from 48 States are collated so far. The objective is to develop a Fertilizer Recommendation Support Tool (FRST).
  • Andrew Sharpley, University of Askansas: phosphorus trade-offs project, looking at trade-offs for practices such as 4R fertiliser application, no-till and cover crops, buffer strips …
  • Lindsay Pease, University of Minnesota: 4R implementation in the Red River Basin, Northern Great Plains
  • Pauline Welikhe, Purdue University: Network P Budget Project (USDA Long-Term Agroecosystem Research LTAR), analysing data on soil – plant system P budgets (data from 19 sites, 41 systems to date)

“SERA-17 Meets Virtually to Discuss P” 2/11/2020

 

Policy and science

ESPP input to EU Soil Strategy

ESPP submitted input to the public consultation on the EU Soil Strategy (Roadmap, 8/12/2020). ESPP underlined the importance of soil to food production, climate and biodiversity, and the critical role of phosphorus and other plant nutrients in soil quality and fertility. ESPP noted that the Soil Strategy should include ensuring a fir income for farmers, should contribute to increasing soil organic carbon (including by facilitating return to soil of carbon-rich secondary materials). Problematic contaminants must therefore be addressed at source, in particular PFAS, persistent plastics additives, veterinary pharmaceuticals. ESPP noted the need for EU policy and regulatory support for nutrient stewardship and carbon recycling, including the CAP FaST Tool, addressing obstacles to recycling of manures and animal by-products in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation and progressing recognition of nutrient recycling in Organic Farming.
ESPP input to EU Soil Strategy, 8th December 2020 here.

 

Analysis and plant tests of 24 commercial struvites

Despite variable characteristics, all the struvite samples showed similar fertiliser effectiveness, comparable to single super phosphate in 28 pot trials with maize. The authors estimate that around 900 – 1250 tP/y (phosphorus) were recovered as struvite in the EU in 2019. In this study, struvites from 24 European struvite production plants were sampled and tested, from a total of 39 plants identified in Europe (39 sewage works, 9 potato industry, one dairy wastewater). Organic carbon was always lower than the proposed EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FRP) STRUBIAS limit of 3% (and often very much lower) in struvites recovered from digestate or digestate dewatering liquor, but significantly higher for three struvites recovered from secondary wastewater treatment effluent (one of these struvites also showed P content below the FPR limit). Heavy metals were very much lower than the FRP limit. Biological indicators of pathogens were generally low in the struvites, and the data is considered to indicate that the crystallisation process selectively excludes pathogens, leaving them in the water phase. Nonetheless struvites can exceed limits for microbes, and should be analysis. Storage of the struvite causes a reduction in microbe levels. In pot trials, all the struvites gave maize biomass dry weight results similar to single super phosphate (SSP) and significantly better than phosphate rock or control.
“A systematic comparison of commercially produced struvite: Quantities, qualities and soil-maize phosphorus availability”, M. Muys et al., Science of the Total Environment 756 (2021) 143726, DOI.

 

Renewable Nutrients / QuickWash update

The QuickWash process, developed for P-removal and recovery from manures by the USDA (see SCOPE Newsletter n°119), is now developed and marketed by Renewable Nutrients. The process has been developed and can now be combined with ammonia removal for pig manure, cattle manure or municipal wastewater. The basic process involves acid dosing and solid/liquid separation, giving a low-P “acid recovered manure” adapted for local land application. Alkali (lime) is then dosed to precipitate and recover calcium phosphate. Polymer dosing improves precipitation to give a low P discharge effluent. A 2020 paper updates on experimental testing of the process for dairy manure. Course solids after the acidification stage are shown to be useable as cattle bedding, and the finer solids as low-P N fertiliser. Renewable Nutrients are now combining Quick Wash with ammonia recovery (as ammonia sulphate). They have also demonstrated the technology at a 7 200 head pig farm in Ohio. Tests have also shown that the technology can be combined with geotextile bag filtration of pig manure lagoon sludge.
Renewable Nutrients – QuickWash https://www.renewablenutrients.com/
“Chemical Extraction of Phosphorus from Dairy Manure and Utilization of Recovered Manure Solids”, A. Szogi et al., Agronomy 2020, 10, 1725; DOI.

 

EIP-AGRI “Ideas for Operational Groups”

The European Commission (DG AGRI) organisation EIP-AGRI has published a short document suggesting themes for “Operational Groups”. These are local innovation/demonstration projects, funded by the EU Rural Development Programmes (1 600 projects funded to date). A number of the proposed themes concern nutrients. This includes those originating in the EIP-AGRI Focus Group on Nutrient Recycling, proposed by ESPP (final report 2017, see ESPP eNews n°18)

  • Integration of nutrient management in certifying schemes
  • Demonstration of how tailor-made biobased fertilisers match plant requirements
  • Cooperation business models to improve the production and marketing of tailor-made fertilisers
  • Exchange of information and practices between farms on the use of bio based fertilisers
  • Development of new fertilisers for organic farming
  • Demonstration of nutrient recycling technologies such as low ammonia (NH3 emission techniques)
  • Nutrient release of organic fertilisers in organic farming
  • Fertiliser efficiency: developing advice based on a system approach,
  • Increasing nutrient efficiency with cover crops and optimal use of organic manure
  • Optimising the use of innovative organic sourced fertiliser
  • Identify best practices to optimise energy/nutrient cycles
  • Appropriate handling and use of organic fertilizer
  • Manure composting
  • On-farm implementation of green manure
  • Promote legumes by inoculation of seeds of specific species with effective Rhizobium strains
  • Improve fertilisation strategies to increase grassland production
  • Livestock feed: how to analyse and get “on-line’ (fast) nutrient value for (by-)products
  • Optimise and/or develop new forage conservation techniques to avoid nutrient losses …
  • Improving knowledge exchange to increase nutrient use efficiency by including different experts
  • Making fertiliser advice more farmer friendly and sustainable
  • Remote sensing applications for agriculture, with a focus on … nutrient management

“Ideas for Operational Groups and other innovative projects, from Focus Groups experts”, EIP-AGRI, November 2020

 

Students input to EU nutrient action plan

Seven Masters students at the University of Amsterdam have prepared input to the European Commission for the future Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan, announced to be developed as part of the Farm-to-Fork policy in 2021. They propose to develop a “Phosphates Directive” to limit the use of P in agriculture and concentrations in surface waters. Their specific proposals are to fix a mandatory level of recycled P in fertilisers, a tariff on phosphorus imports, lower cadmium limits, addressing legal obstacles to P-recycling , support for P-recycling investments and reducing consumption of meat and dairy (including by investing in meat replacement products, adjusting CAP funding and supporting farmers converting away from livestock). The recommendations are based on a readable 40-page summary of the context, challenges, scenarios and vision, on which the recommendations are based.
Input on the proposed considerations for the EU’s Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP), I. Stammes, T. Maassen, F. Miller Kerins, G. Votano, D. Palma Munguia, Z. Yuan, M. Gereadts, Amsterdam University, June 2020 online here.

 

Regulatory options to align livestock farming with environmental objectives

A study from the University of Rostock, Germany (ESPP member), assesses policy instruments to make livestock farming compatible with legally binding environmental objectives, including the Paris Climate Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity and disrupted nutrient cycles, in particular P and N surpluses resulting from concentrated livestock farming. The study considers a greenhouse emissions cap-and-trade system for livestock farming, and a livestock-to-land ratio fixed to limit greenhouse emissions per hectare. The authors note that the cap-and-trade system has less impact on livestock farmers, allows simpler protection at EU borders vis-à-vis countries not applying similar obligations (by ETS), but might be less effective in addressing biodiversity and nutrient cycles unless combined with a livestock-to-land ratio.
“Land Use, Livestock, Quantity Governance, and Economic Instruments—Sustainability Beyond Big Livestock Herds and Fossil Fuels”, A. Weishaupt et al., Sustainability 2020, 12, 2053, DOI.

 

 

EU Fertilising Products Regulation

JRC “By-Product” 2nd report open for comment

The second JRC report on “proposals for by-products as component materials for EU fertilising products” is open for comment to 25th January 2021. The report is available here. JRC proposes to allow use of (only) four classes of by-products under CMC11 of the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation, that is by-products from: fossil fuel refining (but this in fact seems to also include various chemical industry by-products, such as ammonium from caprolactum …), refining of minerals, ores and metals (but phosphogypsum seems to be not included), some gas cleaning systems (but not from waste or manure treatment, see below), processing of biomass, water, food, drink, biorefineries, including from the pulp and paper industries. For ammonia or sulphate salts recovered from cleaning of process gases, the report suggests (pp. 49-50) that these cannot be considered as by-products if there is any waste input into the process. This would exclude nutrient salts from stripping of biogas from digesters processing manure or food waste, or from stripping of municipal solid waste incineration off gases. It should be noted that this report concerns only use of by-products in fertilising products without further processing. If a by-product is used as a chemical reagent then this is eligible for CMC1 (e.g. sulphuric acid recovered from oil refinery sulphur removal from fuels, reacted with phosphate rock to produce phosphoric acid).
“Technical proposals for by-products as component materials for EU Fertilising Products” (2nd report), European Commission JRC, 27th November 2020 here, open for comment to 25th January 2021. Comments must be submitted via a member of the EU Fertilising Products Expert Group. ESPP is a member, so you can send comment to and we will forward them.

 

STRUBIAS criteria finalised

The EU Fertilisers Expert Group validated the finalised “STRUBIAS” criteria, which define under what conditions struvite & precipitated phosphate salts, ash-based materials and biochars and pyrolysis materials will be included in the list of materials which can be used in future CE-marked fertilisers (CMC = Component Material Categories of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation). The key principles defined in the JRC “STRUBIAS” report (2019) remain unchanged: phosphate salts recovered from sewage and materials recovered from sewage sludge incineration ash will be eligible, but biochars from sewage sludge will not. Materials not included in the new EU Regulation can nonetheless be authorised in national fertilisers. Manure and other animal by-products (ABPs) of Cat. 2 and 3 can be used as input materials for all three STRUBIAS categories, but only after definition of an ABP “End Point” by DG SANTE/EFSA (see below). Minor wording changes concern interaction with CMC1, frequency of Conformity Assessment audits, bio-waste, definition of waste water, incineration temperature clarification, definition of ash. A discussion concerning sewage sludge in biochars, currently excluded, confirmed that this should be reassessed if new scientific data is developed to demonstrate safety. The finalised criteria will now be subject to a one-month public consultation (in coming months), translation and publication, and will then logically be able to enter into implementation at the same time as the Fertilising Products Regulation itself in 2022.

 

Possible new CMCs

The European Commission has circulated to Member States and stakeholders, for comments, a table, prepared by ESPP, of secondary materials which cannot currently be used as input materials (CMCs) under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, and which offer potential for nutrient recycling. This document can be consulted here and comments are welcome, either on the materials listed or proposals for other new CMC materials. The objective is to collect data and to engage discussion with the European Commission to hopefully launch assessment of these and proposal of CMC criteria, although the Commission has indicated that this will not be possible in coming months until other outstanding work is finished finalising and implementing the Fertilising Products Regulation.
Input welcome: “ESPP table of materials currently not included in the FPR as input materials (CMCs)”, v4/11/2020 here

 

Why are animal by-products not moving towards the circular economy?

At the EU Fertilisers Expert Group, a representative of DG SANTE was asked to update on progress towards including animal by-products (ABPs) into the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation, which was published in June last year. This is important for nutrient recycling because until the questions around animal by-products are resolved, manure and all other ABPs will be excluded from all CE-mark fertilising products (composts, digestates, biochars, precipitated phosphate salts, …).
CMC10 Animal By-Products, in the published Regulation last June, was an ‘empty box’: after several years of discussion of the draft Regulation, DG SANTE had not provided content, and still today, little progress has been made. This is particularly surprising in that manures and various other ABPs are authorised for use as fertilisers in the Animal By Products Regulation (art. 22 of Regulation 142/2011, that is since nearly ten years ago), subject to specified processing requirements to ensure safety. The difference is that under this regulation 142/2011 these ABP-derived products remain subject to traceability, which would not be the case when included in CE-mark fertilisers under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation FPR (note: this is ESPP’s understanding: ABP regulation is complex and we do not claim to fully understand).
The DG SANTE representative at the EU Expert Group Meeting provided neither slides nor documents, and seemed reluctant to release any information, indicating only that a consultation has been submitted to EFSA (European Food Safety Agency), whose Opinion is necessary before modification of the ABP Regulations. But in fact, the information is public: the mandate requesting an EFSA Opinion is publicly available (enter ‘Mandate Number’ 2020-0088 HERE). This mandate concerns only the following:

  • meat meal, bone meal, meat-and-bone meal, hydrolysed proteins of Category 3 materials
  • processed manure, compost, biogas digestion residues, feather meal, glycerine and other products of Category 2 or 3 materials derived from the production of biodiesel and renewable fuels,
  • petfood, feed and dog chews that have been refused for commercial reasons or technical failures,
  • derived products from blood of animals, hides and skins, hoofs and horns, guano of bats and birds, wool and hair, feather and downs, and pig bristles.

ESPP does not understand why it has taken nearly a year after publication of the Fertilising Products Regulation before this mandate was submitted to EFSA, whereas it could have been done immediately or even before publication (ABPs were already an “empty box” in CMC10 in the initial FPR proposal published in March 2016), especially as the mandate simply copies the list of materials already approved for use in fertilisers in the 142/2011 ABP regulation.
DG SANTE provided no answers concerning STRUBIAS materials using ABPs or manure. Similarly, the STRUBIAS process was launched by the European Commission in 2016 and the JRC final report published summer 2019. ESPP does not understand why no mandate on this has yet been given to EFSA.

 

ESPP members news

ESPP new member: P-TRAP

P-TRAP,  a H2020 MSCA-ITN European Training Network – is a consortium of 16 international participants and hosting 11 Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs). A characteristic of these networks is a combined focus not only on science but also on training of a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative ESRs.
Scientifically, P-TRAP targets two interlinked global problems: I) the flux of phosphate (P) from agricultural areas to surface waters is wasting a resource which is becoming scarce, and II) on the other hand, an enhanced loading of surface water with P is the main cause for eutrophication. Both are in conflict with our understanding of circular economy and a key challenge in meeting the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive. Within P-TRAP we will develop new methods and approaches to trap P in drained agricultural areas and in the sediments of eutrophic lakes, aiming to constrain the uncontrolled loss of P in one system and preventing others from overloading.
The project is organized in 3 scientific work packages (WPs), which are closely interconnected and each tackling specific objectives and tasks to ensure a successful project.
More information about the project and our participants can be found at https://h2020-p-trap.eu.

 

Ostara purchases fertiliser granulation facility

Ostara (ESPP member), and the world’s leading producer of recovered struvite from municipal wastewater, has acquired Oakley’s fertiliser granulation facility at St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Oakley will provide full logistic support and storage facilities. Ostara aims to start production of its Crystal Green® continuous release fertiliser at the site within a year, so increasing the company’s production capacity by a factor of ten.
“Ostara and Oakley Sign Letter of Intent for Purchase of Oakley’s St. Louis Granulation Facility”, 3rd November 2020

  

Call for partners P-recovery via incineration / gasification

ESPP’s new member ZSW is looking for partners in the area of phosphorus recovery via incineration / gasification of P-rich residual fuels (e.g. sewage sludge). The not-for-profit Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg" (ZSW, www.zsw-bw.de), Germany, is looking to participate in consortia or R&D projects into phosphorus recovery via incineration / gasification of sewage sludge or other wastes. The centre can offer testing at a 15 kWth fluidised-bed incinerator / gasifier with flexible feed gas dosing and high-temperature flue / product gas particle separation, as well as analysis of ash melting behaviour with rotational viscometer or thermogravimetry testing, and can contribute to theoretical studies (e.g.  modelling and simulation works via IPSEpro, HSC Chemistry, own developed models), in synergy with a current Marie Curie project on P-recovery in fluidised bed incineration (ReCaPHOS, see https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/842138). Focus on Green Deal Calls and HORIZON EUROPE workprogramme.
If interested, please contact Ms. Dr.- Ing. Glykeria Duelli  Varela, tel. +49 711 78 70-319 eMail:

 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 1 2021

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews049
Download as PDF

 

Online stakeholder dialogue webinar: 

Friday 27th November: Nutrients in the EU Farm-to-Fork and Horizon Europe

Consultations & calls

Call for input: which recycled nutrient products for Organic Farming 
EU consultation on Soil Strategy
EU consultation on Zero Pollution Ambition 
EU consultation on environmental product claims
Horizon2020 R&D calls: Circular Economy, Farm-to-Fork 
Call for presentations – Green Deal water & raw materials 
Call for papers – Bio-based fertilisers 
EU call for NGO Green Deal actions
Invitation for input on LCA guidelines for growing media

Policy

Meat and bone meal possibly excluded from Organic Farming 
ESPP input on EU pollutant register 
German Phosphorus Platform ‘Policy Memorandum’ 
EU to (nearly) ban all PFAS chemicals

Nutrient recycling

Lystek sewage sludge thermal hydrolysis 
Upcycling manure to activated carbon adsorbent

Correction 

N2 Applied LCA results

Webinars

European Commission webinar on P-recovery from municipal sewage 
Biofertilisers and biostimulants from algae 
IFS webinar presents nutrient recycling projects

Research and publications

Nearly half of the world’s cropland is phosphorus limited 
Organic farms show P and K deficits 
LCA of struvite recovery 
Manure in the Baltic Region 
Northern Ireland increasing phosphorus surplus 
Nano calcium phosphate for cancer tumour treatment 
Unsupported claim that P fertilisers impact biodiversity 
Taiwan: diet phosphorus acceptable but calcium too low 
Iran: diet phosphorus and calcium too low, sodium too high 
New book “Phosphorus: Past and Future”

ESPP members

Online stakeholder dialogue webinar:

Friday 27th November: Nutrients in the EU Farm-to-Fork and Horizon Europe

Within the new Green Deal, the EU's 'Farm-to-Fork’ policy poses ambitious objectives for agriculture – food system sustainability, including to reduce nutrient losses by 50% and fertiliser use by 20% before 2030, to improve nutrient stewardship (revised Circular Economy Action Plan and European Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan) and to address diet, including via consumer food product nutrition labelling. Horizon Europe also underlines circularity in the food system, and proposes to develop a “comprehensive EU policy to balance nutrient cycles”.

The objective of this webinar is to understand challenges and opportunities for nutrient management in 'Farm-to-Fork' policy implementation and enable dialogue between policy makers, NGOs, industry and professional organisations, scientists and regions/cities.

Friday 27th November, in three parts:

  • 9h00 - 10h30 CET: dialogue and questions/discussion with experts
    Nutrients in EU Green Deal policies: from objectives to actions
  • 11h30 -12h30 CET: preparation of a contribution document for the European Commission
    Input to the EU's Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan
  • 14h-15h30 CET: ESPP Annual General Assembly - members only.

Registrants to the ‘Farm-to-Fork’ webinar are invited to prepare before 23 November 2020 a contribution which be made available to all webinar registrants. ESPP will put online and circulate to all registrants one indexed pdf document containing all contributions received by this date as follows:

  • please send to by 23rd November: maximum one page (but a well-spaced half page is more likely to be read); MUST be in WORD or RTF (NOT in pdf); can include hyperlinks to other documents, websites, etc; should include your contact email(s). Submissions which are too long or not in WORD/RTF will NOT be used.

Registrants are advised to also prepare a short statement which you can yourself post to the online ‘Chat’ at an appropriate point during the meeting, to link to this submission document and/or your website and/or to other publications. Registrants can also prepare in advance ‘Chat’ questions to submit online during the meeting to the webinar speakers and panellists

Webinar “Nutrients in the EU Farm-to-Fork and Horizon Europe”, Friday 27th November. 2020.

Registration: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/nutrients-in-eu-farm-to-fork-policy-tickets-127743595533 
Full programme and speaker updates here: https://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/events

  

Consultations & calls 

Call for input: which recycled nutrient products for Organic Farming

ESPP is planning a webinar with Organic Farming associations across Europe to discuss which types of recycled nutrient products may be acceptable in Organic Farming, in order to then submit dossiers proposing their authorisation in the EU Organic Farming Regulation. Various organic or secondary materials (e.g. certain composts and digestates, plant biochar, certain animal by-products, wood ash) are already included in the Organic Farming Regulation (Annex I of EC 889/2008 as authorised fertilisers). Also, struvite recovered from sewage and calcined phosphates from sewage sludge incineration ash are currently expected to be added (EGTOP Opinion 2 February 2016 here). This webinar will be based on short presentations of various recycled nutrient products “candidates” for Organic Farming, based on discussion of Fact Sheets for candidate recycled nutrient products. If you wish to propose your recycled nutrient product to the Organic Farming movement, and present at this webinar, then you should prepare a Fact Sheet using the template here by 15th December 2020 (to send to ESPP as indicated on the template).
More information here

 

EU consultation on Soil Strategy

Open to 10th December. Consultation on an EU Soil Strategy “Healthy soil for a healthy life” (Roadmap), as part of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. Objectives fixed in the Biodiversity Strategy include to stop land degradation by 2030, with action to promote soil fertility, reduce erosion, increase soil organic matter, as well as addressing loss of wetlands and peatland and net land take and sealing. Problems cited include “Diffuse soil contamination by … antibiotics, excess fertilisers, microplastics, sewage sludge …”. Proposed actions include promoting sustainable soil management and improving soil quality monitoring. 
Roadmap consultation HERE.

 

EU consultation on Zero Pollution Ambition

Open to 10 February 2021. Public consultation on the EU Zero Pollution Action Plan for air, water and soil, to be adopted in 2021. The Commission’s ‘Roadmap’ outlines as key orientations to: strengthen implementation and enforcement, improve the regulatory “acquis” on health and environment (including water, waste and wastewater), address soil pollution, improve governance and drive societal change / sustainable consumption. The public consultation questionnaire asks for input on questions such as to what extent pollution is felt to be negative, which populations are most exposed, which EU policies are known, which types and sources of pollution should be priorities, possible types of action (regulatory, financial, education, …), significance of digitalisation. “Excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus)” are proposed as one of the possible priority pollutants. 
“EU Action Plan Towards a Zero Pollution Ambition for air, water and soil” HERE

 

EU consultation on environmental product claims

Open to 3rd December 2020. Consultation on product environmental claims & PEFs (Product Environmental Footprints) HERE

 

Horizon2020 R&D calls: Circular Economy, Farm-to-Fork

Calls for R&D proposals are open to 26 January 2021 on eight themes for the EU Green Deal (total one billion €). The themes include Farm-to-Fork, territorial Circular Economy, climate, biodiversity/ecosystems and zero pollution/toxic free environments.

The call on “Systematic innovations in support of the Farm-to-Fork Strategy” CL-GD-6-1-2020 specifically cites nutrient cycles, antimicrobial resistance and food waste as challenges. Proposals should address one of six proposed objectives including farm carbon sequestration, reducing fertiliser nutrient losses and fertiliser use, shifting to sustainable healthy diets.

The call on “Systemic solutions for the territorial deployment of the circular economy” LC-GD-3-2-2020 should be led by “circular territorial clusters”, bringing together companies, administrations and stakeholders for a “circular systemic solution”. Key product value chains cited are those of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, including food, water and nutrients. 
“European Green Deal Call is open - €1 billion investment in green and digital transition”, proposal submission deadline 26 January 2021 HERE.

 

Call for presentations – Green Deal water & raw materials

Organised by ESPP member MonGos, the first International Conference on Strategies toward Green Deal Implementation - Water and Raw Materials (ICGreenDeal2020) will take place online 14-16 December 2020. Proposals are invited to 30 November 2020 deadline for presentations or posters are invited on environmental engineering and management related to water or raw materials. 
ICGreenDeal2020

 

Call for papers – Bio-based fertilisers

The journal “Agronomy” (Soil and Plant Nutrition) is calling for papers on "Integrated Nutrient Recovery from Organic Waste and Bio-Based Fertilizers" for a special issue. Submission deadline: 15th December 2020.

 

EU call for NGO Green Deal actions

The EU has pre-announced a call (to be published mid December) for NGO projects at the Members States’ level to mobilise and strengthen civil society participation and contribution to the implementation of the European Green Deal (under DG ENVI LIFE) EU budget 12 million €, maximum contribution 300 000 € per project.

 

Invitation for input on LCA guidelines for growing media

Growing Media Europe has published, for comment, proposed Life Cycle Analysis methodology guidelines (in accordance with the EU’s PEFCR Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules). Input is invited from stakeholders, industry, LCA experts, e.g. on document structure, methodology, applicability.
“GME draft Guidelines for LCA calculations open consultation”, deadline 14th December 2020 here.
www.growing-media.eu/

 

Policy

Meat and bone meal possibly excluded from Organic Farming

It is ESPP’s understanding that all MBM (meat meal, bone meal) may be excluded from use in Organic Farming in a proposed update of EU Regulation 889/2008. The EU Committee for Organic Production, 28-29 October 2020, discussed modifications to the Annex II (authorised fertilisers) of this Regulation to limit animal by-products to only Cat.3, thus excluding* meat meal and bone meal, which are Cat.2, despite they continue to appear in the list of authorised products. This would deprive Organic Farming of a significant source of recycled phosphorus (and potassium). If this is of concern to you, we suggest that you contact your national Organic Farming organisations, and your national Agriculture Ministry. ESPP would be interested in any feedback or information.
* Exact wording added: “animal by-products (including by-products of wild animals) of category 3 and digestive tract content of category 2 (categories as defined in Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009)”

 

ESPP input on EU pollutant register

ESPP submitted input to the EU consultation on the E PRTR (European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register), October 2020, supporting the European Commission proposal to improve the register’s contribution to Circular Economy objectives, and suggesting to include data on resource recycling. ESPP also suggested that large cattle production units should be included in the register (which already includes large poultry and pig units). ESPP also supported the proposal to widen the E PRTR to ‘emerging’ pollutants, such as PFAS/PFOS (perfluoroalkyl chemicals) and microplastics.
ESPP input to E PRTR consultation, October 2020 HERE.

 

German Phosphorus Platform ‘Policy Memorandum’

DPP (the German Phosphorus Platform) has published a ten page ‘Policy Memorandum’, taking position on key policy and regulatory questions relevant to phosphorus recycling. The document provides information on the current policy status, and makes proposals for policy changes or actions, with the aim of stimulating dialogue and gathering support of stakeholders and decision makers.

The DPP Memorandum notes that major challenges remain to enact German legislation which makes phosphorus recovery obligatory from larger sewage works in Germany (ordinance passed three years ago with implementation deadlines of 2029 / 2032), and that support is needed from politicians and administrations. Sewage sludge could replace around 10% of mineral phosphate fertiliser use in Germany. The German Platform underlines that leadership should be provided to municipalities by Federal and Land governments, including financial support for implementation, funding of R&D and development of Life Cycle Analysis studies and definition of a German nutrient strategy, based on knowledge of nutrient resources and flows (for at least P, N and K). It is noted that, in some cases, regional P-recovery installations are likely to be preferable, in order to reduce costs and optimise costs and improve logistics of recycled phosphorus use, and financial support is needed for construction of large-scale installations.

To facilitate market uptake of recycled phosphorus products, the German Platform considers that economic and market incentives should be implemented by the German government, e.g. by including environmental externalities in prices, quotas for recycled P use (for farmers, distributors and/or the fertiliser industry), subsidies, taxes, bans or use obligations, regulation fixing the same cadmium limits for all fertilisers. It is underlined that better information is needed on recycled nutrient products for farmers, and requested that appropriate recycled phosphorus products be authorised for use in Organic Farming. The German Platform also recommends to remove the current requirements of the national Fertiliser Ordinance (DüMV) on P-solubility and on specification of the origin of input materials, in order to evaluate all products neutrally on the basis of their quality. The German Platform proposes that plant phosphorus availability testing for fertilisers should be standardised and German regulation modified accordingly. 
“Politikmemorandum der Deutschen Phosphor-Plattform DPP e.V. 2020 Positionen zur Umwelt- und Landwirtschaftspolitik” (Policy memorandum of the German Phosphorus Platform DPP e.V. 2020 Positions on environmental and agricultural policy), in German, 23 October 2020 www.deutsche-phosphor-plattform.de 

 

EU to (nearly) ban all PFAS chemicals

The European Commission has published its new “Chemicals Strategy towards a toxic-free environment”, with an accompanying document specifically addressing PFAS (per- and polyfluoralkyl substances). The European Commission’s press release announces the objective to phase out of PFAS in consumer products “unless their use is proven for society”, and this is specified in the Action Plan annex to the Chemicals Strategy by “restrict PFAS under REACH for all non-essential uses”, but also by adding PFAS (as a group) the annexes of the Environmental Quality Standards Directive and of the Groundwater Directive and by “address the emissions of PFAS …through the revision of the legislation on sewage sludge” The document on PFAS states that it would be beneficial that regulation address PFAS as a group, in that regulation of one type of PFAS leads to regrettable substitution by another type. This document also indicates that the revision of the EU Sewage Sludge Directive1986/278 “could provide the opportunity to introduce limits for organic contaminants such as PFAS … including the possibility to have a limit for total PFAS”. 
COM document on PFAS  (per- and polyfluoralkyl substances) SWD(2020)249
EU Chemicals Strategy, 14 October 2020 COM(2020)667 and annex Action Plan COM(2020)225

  

Nutrient recycling

Lystek sewage sludge thermal hydrolysis

In North America, in 2020, Lystek will transform over 1.2 million tonnes of sewage sludge (c. 180 000 t DM) into a “concentrated” liquid fertiliser (15% DM) for agriculture, that is over 3 000 tonnes of phosphorus/year. Dewatered sewage sludge and/or food waste, is thermally hydrolysed (steam injection at 75°C, with alkali addition and physical shearing) for around 30 minutes, sufficient for sanitisation. The resulting liquid can be used as a fertiliser, and/or partly returned to the anaerobic digester (enhancing methane production by up to +25%). The liquid fertiliser is authorised for use in agriculture, depending on State or local regulations in the USA, either as Class A Biosolids or as an agricultural fertiliser product. Depending on the input material (e.g. sewage sludge anaerobically digested or not), the liquid fertiliser has 20 – 40 %/DM organic carbon and typically around 5-2-4 N-P-K. Recent installations by Lystek include St. Thomas - Ontario, Innisfil – Ontario, St. Cloud – Minnesota, Fairfield-Suisun – California, Goleta – California (food waste). www.lystek.com

Upcycling manure to activated carbon adsorbent

Earthcare, LLC (USA) is rolling out installations to dry and gasify (at 760 – 1000 °C) organic wastes on an industrial scale, producing a sterile Ecochar® (biochar), which can be used as an activated carbon adsorbent tertiary treatment to remove contaminants such as heavy metals and organic compounds in wastewaters.

The company has seven plants operating to date, each producing c. 4,000 t/y of biochar (Netherlands, USAx4, Russia x 2), and processing pig, cattle or poultry manure, food, fibre or bioethanol plant wastes, and/or animal by-products. An eighth plant with four adjacent gasifiers is underway in Ha’il, Saudi Arabia to process ~60,000 tons broiler chicken litter per year, producing ~17,200 t/y of biochar. Research shows that manure-derived and sewage-derived biochar is highly effective for contaminant removal, probably because of the fixed phosphorus it contains, see Kolodynska 2017.

The heat energy generated by combustion of the syngases has been shown in full scale systems to be sufficient to dry and process sewage sludge dewatered to 20% DM or more.

All of the input phosphorus and 15-20% of input nitrogen is bound into the biochar. The remaining nitrogen is converted to atmospheric N2 (the syngas combustion generates very low NOx) and emissions are filtered by both a chemical scrubber and a bio-bed.

The system is recognised as an agricultural Best Management Practice (BMP) by the US EPA / Chesapeake Bay Program for eliminating the runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus.  When the biochar is used to remove organic contaminants from wastewater, it can be decontaminated and reused by thermally destroying the organic contaminants in the triple-pass rotary drum dryer.  When the biochar is used to bind heavy metals on contaminated land or in wetlands, it can remain in place, but biochar adsorbing heavy metals at wastewater treatment plants would need to be disposed to approved landfill. 
Website https://www.earthcarellc.com/ 
Contact: Peter Thomas

  

Correction

N2 Applied LCA results

We reported – incorrectly - in our last eNews results of a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of application of N2 Applied’s technology to transform nitrogen from the air with manure or digestate into an organic and mineral fertiliser. The LCA in fact showed that, compared to current practice (as defined by the Arla Foods Farm Tool), N2 Applied technology can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farming by -36%: anaerobic digestion of manure to produce biogas -16%, N2 Applied alone (treating manure) -27%; biogas + N2 Applied (treating digestate) -36%. 
Further information including graphs showing LCA results HERE.

 

Webinars

European Commission webinar on P-recovery from municipal sewage

As part of the 18th European week of Regions and Cities, the European Commission organised a webinar on phosphorus recycling from municipal sewage works. 20th October 2020, introduced by Johanna Bernsel and Fleur Van Ooststroom-Brummel.

Chris Thornton, ESPP, summarised different routes for recycling nutrients from sewage, from application of composted or digested sewage biosolids in agriculture, through to “upcycling” where high quality chemicals or fertilisers are recovered and contaminants are removed. Slides here

In discussion, it was indicated that different routes are adapted for different contexts, depending on sewage works size, regional agronomic needs, etc.

Paula Lindell, Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (HSY), Finland, explained that the region’s first option for policy is to not incinerate sewage sludge, in order to return the carbon content to soil. Upstream actions to reduce at source contaminants from industrial discharges and form households are important to improve sewage sludge quality. Because iron or aluminium coagulants are used to achieve very low phosphorus discharge concentrations, no existing process is suitable for phosphorus recovery. HSY is therefore developing its own processes for P- and N-recovery (RAVITATM) and is testing pyrolysis (biochar production from sewage sludge).

Lukas Egle, City of Vienna, Austria, explained the city’s overall policy to improve sewage sludge valorisation: development of sludge anaerobic digestion to produce biogas and stabilise sewage sludge, then drying and mono-incineration. Actions underway with the aim of achieving energy-positive incineration and to facilitate phosphorus recovery from the ash include seeking authorisation to incinerate Cat.1 animal by-products (MBM meat and bone meal, which has both high energy content and high phosphorus content), reducing sand (filters) and substituting iron precipitants. Testing is at an advanced stage for use of the sewage sludge (mono)incineration ash in the fertilizer industry to partially replace phosphate rock in fertiliser production. However, intake of ash into this process is limited by sand (silica) and the iron present in the ash.

Challenges posed by the waste status of sewage sludge were discussed. Some progress has been made with the allocation of a specific waste number for sewage sludge incineration ash, which is thus recognised to be Non Hazardous. It may also be possible to have End-of-Waste status by self-declaration if the ash is used “to substitute a raw material”.

Caroline Attard, European Commission DG Environment, indicated that a prospective study on recycling and waste status is underway in the context of the evaluation of the Sewage Sludge Directive.

Robert Van Spingelen, Ostara, indicated that the Ostara has 22 Pearl struvite P-recovery reactors operating worldwide in sewage works. In all cases, the water company has an offtake contract with Ostara who ensure distribution and marketing of the Crystal Green® branded struvite fertiliser product.

He underlined the environmental benefits of struvite recovery in sewage works: lower greenhouse emissions (see struvite recovery “emergy” in ESPP eNews n°35), contribution to reductions of P and N discharges from sewage works, lower in-field nutrient losses. Agronomic research by Ostara shows that because the struvite pellets do not burn plant roots and only release nutrients as required by the plant, higher yields and lower nutrient losses can be achieved. In photos of trials, roots are shown to grow to cover the struvite granules. Tests show that organic acids are released by plant roots and solubilise the nutrients in struvite. The phosphorus is thus only released when the plant needs it and will take it up.
EU 18th European Week of Regions and Cities webinar “Recovered phosphorus from municipal wastewater” 20th October 2020: online here and link to replay video

 

Biofertilisers and biostimulants from algae

The EABA (European Algae Biomass Association) online workshop, 7th October 2020, opened by Jean-Paul Cadoret, Algama Foods and EBEA, enabled discussion and networking between 90 participants around the different value contributions of macro- and micro-algae to agriculture and the food chain. Algae can be applied to soils as harvested (e.g. dried) or after cell-lysis, or can be processed to extract specific substances, so as fertilisers, soil improvers or biostimulants.

Vince Ördög, Széchenyi István University, Hungary, presented review data showing that microalgae can increase soil nutrient content by nitrogen fixation, enhance growth of beneficial PGPR (Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria) and release antimicrobial compounds against soil-born plant pathogens. Algae have been shown to produce many different plant hormones. Auxins and polysaccharides produced by microalgae have beneficial effects including plant growth stimulation, increased chlorophyll content, photosynthesis and ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) scavenging; and improved plant tolerance against salt and drought stress.

Pi Nyvall Cohen, Olmix Group, presented industry experience processing red and green seaweed to products with fertiliser (nutrient content), soil improver and biostimulant effects. Field tests show that after several years’ application, soil carbon increases, crop root volume is improved, soil microbial biomass increases by up to +40% and mineral fertiliser application can be reduced by 5-10% for nitrogen, -40 kgP/ha, -80 kgK/ha and -50 kgMg/ha. Trials are underway in Brittany testing zero chemical intrant / zero mineral fertiliser production of wheat fertilised with the algal products. Regulatory challenges include acceptance for Organic Farming, and the fact that seaweed collected from deposits on beaches is considered a “waste”, but not the same seaweed collected in shallow water near the beach.

Theodora Nikolakopoulou, European Commission DG GROW, outlined the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation, and its significance in providing a European regulatory status for products such as biostimulants and soil improvers, and in providing “End-of-Waste” status for secondary materials when processed into an EU fertilising product (i.e. in a labelled and conformity assessed product). Maris Stulgis, European Commission, DG MARE, indicated that algae have significant industrial potential and DG MARE is there to help untap the potential of algae for various applications. Kristen Sukalac, Prospero and Partners, outlined the regulatory challenges facing the use of algae and derived components in biostimulants and organic fertilisers under the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation.

Questions in discussion of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation included the need to widen the list of micro-organisms for biostimulants (CMC7, currently limited to four species), the question of why cyanobacteria are excluded (CMC2), whether cell lysis of microalgae is acceptable processing (CMC3) and whether substances extracted from microalgae grown on wastewaters can be eligible for CMC1 (or are they excluded as being waste-derived)?

Gabriel Acien, University of Almeria, Spain, presented a marketing study for algae production (SABANA project 2016-2020 Horizon 2020). Algae production raceways are a proven technology, with commercially operating installations of 5 000 m2 and more. The cost of algae production is higher than their nutrient value for fertiliser, but the economics are different where algae production is used for wastewater treatment. Extraction of substances for biostimulants can provide a higher added value.

Companies participating included:

  • Cécile Le Guillard, Agro Innovation International, Centre Mondial de l’Innovation Roullier, France, is producing algal extracts from seaweed and microalgae containing different kinds of bioactive molecules. CMI Roullier develops innovative solutions for agriculture, including plant biostimulants as well as products for plant nutrition and stimulation of plant defences.
  • José Maria Goméz, BIOMASA PENINSULAR, using microalgae grown on biofilm for nutrient removal as tertiary sewage treatment, then lyophilisation and formulation with other secondary materials to produce recovered and bio-based fertilisers
  • Robert Stenekes, ICL Group, The Netherlands, investigating new sustainable inputs to agriculture
  • Christophe Vasseur, INALVE, cultivates and refines marine microalgae-biofilm into sustainable ingredients for aquafeed formulators: a microalgae-based protein to substitute fishmeal, a lipid fraction as a replacement for fish oil and a polysaccharides fraction to boost animal health.
  • Frédérique Ferey, LafargeHolcim, looking into production of algae to take up CO2 emissions from cement production
  • Franck Hennequart, Algaia, France, are producing a range of different products from seaweed in Brittany, including for food applications, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and also including plant biostimulants. Seaweeds bring nutrients to plants (e.g. N, K, Ca, Mg, Cu) and also amino-acids and sugars, and contain alginate, a chelating agent which facilitates crop access to minerals in soils.
  • Luis Lombana, Ficosterra, Spain, processing algae and seaweed to produce biostimulants and organic soil improvers

Research presented included:

  • Yagut Allahverdiyeva-Rinne, University of Turku, Finland, presented the NordAqua research consortium which is investigating improvements to algae production, including for wastewater treatment, and use of algae as a biofertiliser or biostimulant.
  • Rok Mihelič, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, processing algae grown in food waste digestate to produce biostimulants and algae grown in slaughterhouse waste to produce fertilisers in the Water2Return project (Horizon 2020, 2017-2020)
  • Hans Reith, Wageningen UR, The Netherlands, Magnificent-Algae project (BBI 2017-2021), processing microalgae as nutritional ingredients, human food or animal feed or cosmetics
  • Jesus Martin Marroquin, CARTIF, Algaecan project (LIFE 2017-2020), using microalgae to treat fruit and vegetable processing wastewater. The microalgae could be used as biofertilisers or animal feed
  • Enrica Uggetti, Universitat Politècninca de Catalunya BarcelonaTech, projects on using algae for wastewater treatment then recycling the algae as biofertilisers: INCOVER project (Horizon 2020, 2016-2019) and looking at producing biofertilisers from microalgae: Al4Bio project (Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (MCIU), Research National Agency (AEI), and European Regional Development Fund (FEDER), 2019-2021) and PAVITR project (Horizon 2020, 2019-2023)

 EABA “Algae Biofertilizers and Biostimulants” technical webinar workshop, 7th October 2020 https://algaeworkshops.org/algae-biofertilizer-and-biostimulants/

  

IFS webinar presents nutrient recycling projects

As the IFS webinar of 10th November (70 participants, part of the IFS agronomy webinar series), two R&D projects into nutrient recycling were presented.

Romke Postma, Nutrient Management Institute, The Netherlands, presented the ReNu2Farm project (Interreg) which is looking at potentials for nutrient transfer between regions with livestock production towards crop growing regions. Desk study data compared the nutrient surpluses in some regions with crop needs in others, for N, P and K, and for organic matter, taking into account regional climate, soil and differing crop needs. Conclusions are that even in high manure regions, there is a need for concentrated nitrogen fertilisers to top-up manure nutrient inputs, and additionally for potassium for root crops. In low manure regions, there is a need for N, P and K, and additionally for organic matter for root crops. This should be taken into account when producing tailor-made fertilisers from recycled materials.

Results were presented of a survey of 1225 famers concerning attitudes to use of secondary nutrients (in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, UK, Luxemburg and The Netherlands, 2018-2019, carried out by which was performed by CIT, Cork, Ireland). Contaminants were the biggest concern for farmers (heavy metals, plastics, other pollutants, pathogens). Farmers currently using secondary materials underlined the importance of the nutrient ratio, organic matter and price; whereas non-users underlined price, ease of application and certification. Over all respondents, known nutrient content and nutrient ratios corresponding to crop needs were identified as key qualities to enable possible substitution of mineral fertilisers.

Martin Blackwell and Tegan Darch, Rothamsted Research, UK, presented the Thallo / Elemental Digest System process proposed for recycling of abattoir and other wastes, as presented in the PlosONE 2019 paper here. Bones and other Cat. 2 organic abattoir wastes are milled to a fine slurry, then combined with sulphuric acid and a metal catalyst, then pressure sterilised (20 mins. @ 133°C, 3 bars DEFRA method 1), before drying and granulation to produce a slow-release organo-mineral fertiliser (see patent WO2014202986, 2014). It is indicated that other wastes can be added, e.g. calcium phosphate from baby food production, biomass combustion ash or waste from fire extinguisher refilling (the silicones in fire extinguisher material is broken down by the high-pressure sulphuric acid treatment). It is suggested that proposed process offers advantages compared to current recycling routes for Cat. 2 abattoir by products (see EU industry data in “Understanding Animal by-products and phosphorus recycling in SCOPE Newsletter n°122), because on-site processing at the abattoir reduces waste, enables recovery of some materials for the human food-chain in an initial sorting stage, and can be adjusted to produce bespoke fertiliser formulations (including different micronutrients) adapted to local soil/crop needs.

The Thallo product typically contains 6.5% N, 3.1% “acid soluble” P, 3% K, 9% S, 9% Ca  and up to 30% organic matter, and also many other elements including e.g. zinc (430 ppm), iron (115 ppm). Results from pot trials (16 weeks, with grass and wheat) were presented, comparing the Thallo product to standard NPK mineral fertiliser and slow-lease N fertiliser. Mostly, plant yields were very similar for the three different fertilisers. The Thallo product showed better yields in sand, presumably because of its organic matter content. Analysis of micro-nutrients in the grown plants showed complexity of results, suggesting interactions between different nutrients and micronutrients present.
International Fertiliser Society (IFS) webinar series: programme, registration, access to recordings of past webinars (free for IFS members) Here

 

Research and publications

Nearly half of the world’s cropland is phosphorus limited

A meta-analysis of 652 phosphorus addition experiments in the field, from 285 publications 1955 – 2017, suggests that 49% of croplands and 45% of natural terrestrial ecosystems are phosphorus limited. Phosphorus inputs increased aboveground plant production by an average of 14% in croplands (compared to no P addition controls), which are often already fertilised, and 35% in natural systems (compared to no P addition controls). The data set covered all continents except Antarctica and wide ranges of precipitation. Soil phosphorus limitation was not restricted to tropical soils, with data showing P limitation in natural systems across Europe and in cropland in Northern Europe. 
“Global meta-analysis shows pervasive phosphorus limitation of aboveground plant production in natural terrestrial ecosystems”, E. Hou et al., Nature Communications (2020) 11:637 DOI

 

Organic farms show P and K deficits

A study of farm gate nutrient balances and soil nutrient status in twenty Organic farms I Germany shows wide variability, but a mean phosphorus deficit of -3 kgP/ha (SD = standard deviation ±6). Nutrient budgets were calculated as all inputs (fertilising products, manures, animal feed, seeds, plus estimated BNF = biological nitrogen fixation per crop) minus estimated offtakes in crops and by-products. Losses in leaching/runoff were not considered in the calculation. Mean farm balances for nutrients assessed, other than P, were all positive with wider variation: N = +19 (±26), K = +5 (±28),  Mg = +7 (±10), S = +12 (±33). Levels of (extractable) nutrients in soils were not correlated to the nutrient balance for N, K, Mg, S, but were correlated for P.  Some 14% of soils across the 20 farms showed extractable soil P below optimal levels (KTBL 2015, VDUFA 2018, groups A or B), 27% optimal soil P (group C) and 50% above optimal (D or E). The authors note that farms with a prolonged past of Organic Farming showed higher risk of P depletion in soils and that reliance on biological nitrogen fixation was linked to soil depletion of both P and K. The authors further conclude that “P and K scarcity (are) a major challenge for Organic farms with high reliance on BNF in the long term”. 
“Reliance on Biological Nitrogen Fixation Depletes Soil Phosphorus and Potassium Reserves”, M. Reimer, Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 2020, DOI.

 

LCA of struvite recovery

A life cycle assessment (LCA) was carried out of the Nine Springs municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Madison, Wisconsin (38,000 p.e. biological P-removal, biosolids used in agriculture) - with and without struvite recovery. In 2017, the WWTP implemented additional phosphorus release from the secondary (bio-P) sludge before gravity thickening and installed the Ostara Pearl struvite recovery system which operates on the sludge thickening liquor (filtrate). Although there was an increase in influent nutrient concentrations after 2017, resulting in a slightly increased discharge concentrations, the authors note that struvite recovery would generally improve effluent quality by reducing nutrient returns to the WWTP in the dewatering liquors. Taking into account the balance of increased chemical and energy consumption versus the recovery of phosphorus and nitrogen (modelled as an LCA offset for fertiliser value), the environmental impacts generally decreased with struvite recovery implementation.  In this case, the net greenhouse impact of adding struvite recovery was a reduction in total emissions for the WWTP of around 1% or approximately 4 gCO2-equ./m3 wastewater treated.
“Environmental impacts of phosphorus recovery through struvite precipitation in wastewater treatment”, M. Sena et al., J. Cleaner Production 280 (2021) 124222 DOI

 

Manure in the Baltic Region

A report by the SuMaNu project summarises manure management in the Baltic region. Examples of Finland, Sweden, Germany and Poland, with maps, show the uneven distribution of livestock production (and so manure). An overview of different manure processing technologies is provided covering, with estimated investment and operating costs for some: solid-liquid separation, slurry acidification, composting, anaerobic digestion (AD), drying, vacuum evaporation, combustion, pyrolysis, gasification, ammonia stripping, membrane separation, struvite precipitation. For some technologies (AD, thermal drying of poultry manure, pelletisation, combustion, gasification vacuum evaporation) case examples are presented. The report concludes that manure processing is needed to enable storage and transport of manure from livestock intensive regions in the Baltic to crop-growing areas, where fertilisers are needed and nutrients can be used efficiently, but that to date manure processing is too expensive for farmers. It is emphasised that the final product must correspond to farmers needs (e.g. spreading equipment) and that reliable information for farmers on the product’s nutrient content and nutrient plant availability must be available. 
See also reports on manure processing technology: Wageningen The Netherlands ESPP eNews n°45, NIBIO Norway 2020 ESPP eNews n°41, Washington State University USA 2018 ESPP eNews n°31, the detailed online data base (costs, farmer assessments …) operated by Newtrient in the USA and the specifications in the EUBAT document for intensive rearing of pigs and poultry (updated 2017
“Manure processing as a pathway to enhanced nutrient recycling”, report of SuMaNu platform, S.  Luostarinen et al., 2020, ISBN 978-952-380-037-3 access.

 

Northern Ireland increasing phosphorus surplus

The phosphorus stock and flow analysis for Northern Ireland (NI) carried out within the RePhOKUs project shows that the agricultural P surplus has increased by nearly +50% since 2008 (8.7 kgP/ha in 2008, 12.3 kgP/ha in 2017). This results from a c. +25% increase in P imported in animal feed (+3.4 kgP/ha increase) and a nearly +50% increase in mineral P fertiliser use (+1.4 kgP/ha). Over the same period, average river SRP (soluble reactive phosphorus) increased by around one third (62% of P-total inputs to waterbodies in NI are estimated to be from agriculture). Considering all inflows and outflows of P to NI, the regional P balance (2017) was +5.5 kgP/person (compared to around 0.6 kgP/person P intake in diet: only c. 10% of the net NI P import – export is actually being eaten). The NI food system “phosphorus use efficiency” is calculated by the authors to be 38% (P in agricultural food products / P inputs to the agricultural system). This low P use efficiency (PUE) is considered to be linked to livestock production. Manure produced in NI contains 20% more P than the region’s total P input needs, whereas only c. 10% of poultry manure is processed (2% of P in all NI manures). 
“Phosphorus Stocks and Flows in an Intensive Livestock Dominated Food System” S.A. Rothwell et al., Resources, Conservation and Recycling, online here. A technical summary of the work and results from a subsequent stakeholder workshop can be found here.

 

Nano calcium phosphate for cancer tumour treatment

Researchers have developed a possible treatment route for cancer tumours using calcium phosphate nanoparticles (c. 100 µm diameter, mesoporous), which can be loaded with antitumour drugs (doxorubicin = DOX was tested) and coated with arginylglycylaspartic acid = RGD (a common peptide responsible for cell adhesion). Multidrug resistance of tumours is the primary cause of chemotherapy failure. The prepared nano calcium phosphate composite (called TCaNG) showed good tumour targeting. Once taken into the tumour cell, as well as delivering the drug DOX, the TCaNG releases calcium which suppresses cellular respiration, so reducing production in the cell of glycoproteins which remove cancer drugs. Glycoprotein production is reduced both by direct inhibition (due to calcium accumulation in mitochondria) and by blocking cellular ATP production (adenosine tri phosphate, necessary for energy cycling) so reducing the effectiveness of the glycoproteins. The TCaNG reduced the proliferation of drug-resistant tumours in mice by a factor of c. 13.
“Nanoenabled Intracellular Calcium Bursting for Safe and Efficient Reversal of Drug Resistance in Tumor Cells”, J. Liu, Nano Lett. 2020, DOI.

 

Unsupported claim that P fertilisers impact biodiversity

The title of a paper in ‘Nature Ecology & Evolution’ suggests that it shows phosphorus fertilisation to “eradicate” threatened plants in northern Europe. The paper is based on data from 16 sites in a few widely separated zones: seven in the band Netherlands – Belgium – Switzerland, five in Eastern Poland / Belarus, one in Sweden, one in Northern Scotland and two in Siberia. The paper shows, for these sites, correlations suggesting that both “availability” of phosphorus to plants and ratio of “available” P/N are more correlated to plant biodiversity and to threatened plant species than N or K. “Availability” is not here based on soil data, but is estimated from above-ground plant biomass nutrient ratios. As authors indicate, this sensitivity to P is to be expected as P is generally the “limiting nutrient” in nature. The authors then suggest that “An EU Phosphate Directive” is needed, based on speculation that reducing P-fertiliser application would reduce P availability in land relevant to threatened biodiversity. ESPP does not see evidence in the paper to support this: it seems likely that reduced P-fertilisation of a field might reduce P levels in land nearby, but it is not clear how reduced P fertilisation would significantly lower P availability in more remote areas (e.g. the Northern Scotland or Siberia sites in the study). Atmospheric phosphorus deposition is never mentioned in the paper, despite N deposition being discussed. Other sources suggest global phosphorus deposition may be quantitatively nearly 1/5th of P annually mined in phosphate rock, but that most atmospheric P deposition comes from natural sources (e.g. dust from deserts, pollen and other biogenic materials), see ESPP eNews n°43
“Phosphorus fertilization is eradicating the niche of northern Eurasia’s threatened plant species”, M. Wassen et al., Nature Ecology & Evolution 2020 DOI.

 

Taiwan: diet phosphorus acceptable but calcium too low

Iran: diet phosphorus and calcium too low, sodium too high

Based on data from 7580 respondents in a national eating and drinking study, and analysis of 876 representative food product samples (purchased in supermarkets), it is concluded that average adult phosphorus intake in diet is around 1.2 gP/day, higher in toddlers, and with a small increasing trend with age from children through to the elderly. The phosphate intakes were higher than the AI (Adequate Intake) and lower than the UL (tolerable Upper intake Level), so “no significant risk” to health. The main dietary sources of phosphorus were grains (including rice), fresh meat and poultry and milk products. The authors note that none of these contain phosphate food additives. Calcium intake in adults is around 0.5gCa/day, compared to an AI of 1 gCa/day for adults, so are considerably too low.

In a separate study in the city of Shiraz, Iran, based on a dietary survey of 438 persons and analysis of 580 food samples from shops and markets, phosphorus intake is estimated at only 0.21 gP/day, considerably lower than the EAR (estimated average requirement) of 0.58 gP/day. Calcium intake was 0.24 gCa/day, again much lower than the EAR of 0.8 gCa/day. For both phosphorus and calcium, around 90% of the population had intakes below the EAR. Whereas sodium intake was 1.47 gNa/day compared to an EAR of 1.5 gNa/day. 70% of the population had sodium intakes higher than the UL of 2 gNa/day. 
“Risk Assessment of the Dietary Phosphate Exposure in Taiwan Population Using a Total Diet Study”, M-P. Ling et al., Foods 2020, 9, 1574, DOI
“Dietary Intakes of Zinc, Copper, Magnesium, Calcium, Phosphorus, and Sodium by the General Adult Population Aged 20–50 Years in Shiraz, Iran: A Total Diet Study Approach”, E. Babaali et al., Nutrients 2020, 12, 3370, DOI.

 

New book “Phosphorus: Past and Future”

By Jim Elser and Phil Haygarth, this new book, 250 pages, presents phosphorus’ roles in biology, human health and nutrition, ecosystems and in environmental sustainability. The importance of mined phosphate rock to global food production is explained, and the environmental problems generated by phosphorus losses to surface waters. Phosphorus sustainability efforts are presented, with solutions and possible future scenarios. 
“Phosphorus: Past and Future, J. Elser & P. Haygarth, publication 1st January 2021,  ISBN 978-0199916917

 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 9 2020

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews048
Download as PDF

 

EU consultations 
EU consultation on Pollutant Release and Transfer Register 
EU consultation on Zero Pollution Ambition 
EU consultation on sustainable aquaculture 
EU consultations on agriculture policy (CAP) 
EU consultation on environmental product claims

Policy 
Updated EU Critical Raw Materials List published 
EU IED evaluation: resource use, recycling, agriculture 
EFSA Opinion on PFAS 
EEA Brief on biodegradable / compostable plastics 
EU R&I Event: uncrossing planetary boundaries for nutrients

Webinars 
Announced webinar: Phosphorus and climate change 
German Phosphorus Platform (DPP) Forum 
US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance annual Forum 
Sewage sludge incineration ash recycling 
P fertilisation and legacy P 
Variable effectiveness of bio-based fertilisers

Nutrient recovery 
RAVITA P-recovery test results published 
N2 Applied inaugurates new production hall 
P-recovery from pharmaceutical industry wastewater 
German national “RePhoR” P-recovery projects announced 
Solubilisation of P from ash and other materials by microorganisms

Research 
UN Oceans Science 
Global soil P depletion due to erosion 
Government dietary guidelines inadequate for health and environment 
Circular Agronomics project update 
Fate of pharmaceuticals in manure processing

ESPP Members

 

EU consultations

EU consultation on Pollutant Release and Transfer Register

Open to 26 October 2020. The E PRTR Regulation (EC) 166/2006 ensures that certain pollution emission data is made public. It currently covers emissions of 91 listed pollutants for installations in 65 sectors. Listed pollutants include nutrient emissions (total P, total N, ammonia). Confusingly, coverage is not the same as for the Industrial Emissions Directive IED: 30 000 installations in Europe concerned by the PRTR but 50 000 by IED. Sectors covered at present by PRTR include waste and wastewater treatment (whereas municipal sewage works* are not under IED), slaughterhouses, food and beverage industry, large poultry and pig farms (same thresholds as IED, see below) but also aquaculture which is not covered by the IED (> 1 000 tonne fish or shellfish per year). The consultation on the PRTR considers possible widening of scope, additional pollutants (e.g. to emerging pollutants), collecting information relevant to decarbonisation and the Circular Economy and improving public information access. ESPP notes that the E PRTR pollutant list currently does not include a number of substances on the Water Framework Directive “Priority Substances” list: PFOS and its derivatives, a number of pharmaceuticals, brominated flame retardant HBCDD 
* i.e. those covered by the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive 91/271/EEC  
EU public Roadmap consultation on the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E PRTR) open to 26 October 2020 HERE

 

EU consultation on Zero Pollution Ambition

Open to 29 October 2020. The “EU Action Plan Towards a Zero Pollution Ambition for air, water and soil” stems from the Green Deal objective of zero pollution (see ESPP eNews n°39). The consultation document refers to pharmaceuticals, persistent and toxic chemicals and micro-plastics. It notes that pollution to soil should be addressed and is not well covered by existing EU regulation. 
EU public Roadmap consultation on the Zero Pollution Ambition open to 29 October 2020 HERE

 

EU consultation on sustainable aquaculture

Open to 27th October 2020. See ESPP eNews n° 47. Consultation HERE

 

EU consultations on agriculture policy (CAP)

Open to 22nd October 2020. See ESPP eNews n° 47. Consultations here on water, on habitats, landscapes and biodiversity, and on sustainable management of soil.

 

EU consultation on environmental product claims

Open to 3rd December 2020. Consultation on product environmental claims and PEFs (Product Environmental Footprints) HERE

 

 

Policy

Updated EU Critical Raw Materials List published

The European Commission has published the 4th version of the Critical Raw Materials List (CRM). Phosphate Rock (in effect, phosphorus in any form: rock, fertiliser, chemicals, organics ….) and “Phosphorus” (in effect, P4 and derivatives) are maintained on the list. This new list is the previous 2017 list plus four minerals (bauxite, lithium, titanium, strontium). The Commission announcement recommends inclusion of CRM investments in Covid recovery plans, development of recycling and domestic sourcing of CRMs, actions on value chains and international trade. The accompanying document identifies EU dependency on imports (84% import dependency, of which Morocco and Russia total 44) for phosphate rock and for P4/derivatives (100% import dependency, of which 98% from Kazakhstan, Vietnam and China). Overall emphasis in the short term is strongly on the “rare earth and magnet value chains”, identified as relevant for renewable energy, defence and space. An accompanying study by EU JRC assesses CRMs relevant for “strategic technologies”, identified as: lithium ion batteries, fuel cells, wind energy, electric traction motors, photovoltaics, robotics, drones, 3D printing and digital technologies. Unfortunately, this study does not consider “Phosphorus” (P4 and derivatives), which is almost totally absent from the study (e.g. absent from the conclusions and study cover Sankey diagram, which covers 24 other materials). Also, in Annex 2 to the European Commission official CRM List Communication, Phosphate Rock and Phosphorus are indicated as relevant to “Energy intensive industries” (bizarrely) and “Agri-food” but not to other sectors where P-based chemicals are important: renewable energy (e.g. in batteries), digital (e.g. microchip etching), electronics, aerospace (e.g. flame retardants). ESPP will write to the European Commission to address these omissions. 
European Commission Communication COM(2020) 474 final, 3rd September 2020 “Critical Raw Materials Resilience: Charting a Path towards greater Security and Sustainability” HERE 
JRC “Critical Raw Materials for Strategic Technologies and Sectors in the EU – A Foresight Study”, 2020, ISBN 978-92-76-15336-8 HERE

 

EU IED evaluation: resource use, recycling, agriculture

The European Commission has published its evaluation of the Industrial Emissions Directive which regulates over 50 000 installations in Europe, including food and dairy processing, waste treatment and large poultry and pig farms (replacing several Directives including IPPC). The evaluation is based on input to stakeholder consultations (see ESPP eNews n°42, ESPP input submitted here). Conclusions are that the Directive is effective, cost-efficient, coherent and provides EU added value. Amongst aspects which work less well or are to be addressed, the Commission identifies resource use and Circular Economy, greenhouse gas emissions, implementation of BAT technologies, emerging technologies and possible widening of scope. The report states that a few highly-polluting activities are not currently covered by the Directive, including cattle farms, aquaculture and poultry farms below the current IED threshold of 40 000 birds, but notes that extending to cover cattle farms has previously been considered and rejected because of the administrative burden.  
“Executive Summary of the Evaluation of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED)”, European Commission SWD(2020)182 (Executive Summary) and SWD(2020)181 full report, 23 September 2020. The executive summary(182) is available by searching here. The full report (182) seems to not be publicly available at present but can in fact be found here.

 

EFSA Opinion on PFAS

Perfluorinated alkyl chemicals are a contaminant found in sewage sludge which raise particular concern (see SCOPE Newsletters n° 134, 129, 123) but which could be avoided if their use was restricted. The EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) Opinion covers PFOA, PFOS, PFNA and PFHxS (collectively termed PFAS). They are used in e.g. textiles, household products, fire-fighting foams, automotive, food processing, construction, electronics. EFSA indicates that there is evidence that these chemicals are bio-accumulative and are probably linked to reduced immune response, cholesterol, liver impacts, infant birth weight, with limited evidence of carcinogenicity. EFSA has fixed a TWI (tolerable weekly intake) of 4.4 nanogrammes/kg body weight (total PFAS substances).
“PFAS in food: EFSA assesses risks and sets tolerable intake”, EFSA press release 17 September 2020 and EFSA Scientific Opinion adopted 6 July 2020 “Risk to human health related to the presence of perfluoroalkyl substances in food”.

 

EEA Brief on biodegradable / compostable plastics

The European Environment Agency (EAA) has published a briefing document on biodegradable, compostable, bio-based and oxo-degradable plastics. This underlines the differences between these different categories: bio-based = fully or partly made from biological raw materials, but may or may not be readily degradable; compostable = in some cases in industrial composting systems (with controlled conditions), in other cases also in less well controlled garden composting; biodegradable = in natural media (soil, water …) but with no recognised standard for testing conditions, and degradability in soil may not mean degradability in water; oxo-degradable = include additives which cause breakdown into microplastic particles or chemical decomposition. This vocabulary is not well understood by the public: in one survey in Germany, nearly 60% thought bioplastic implied biodegradable. The report suggests that marketing of plastics as “biodegradable” or “compostable” may need to be prevented to reduce consumer confusion and misuse of such plastics, but that such plastics can be useful in specific applications (e.g. bags for household separate collection of food waste or agricultural mulches), subject to respecting precise standards adapted to the specific application. 
“Biodegradable and compostable plastics challenges and opportunities”, European Environment Agency, Briefing 9/2020

 

EU R&I Event: uncrossing planetary boundaries for nutrients

John Bell, Director “Health Planet” at the European Commission DG Research, underlined that planetary boundaries are considerably exceeded for phosphorus and nitrogen and that urgent and systemic action is needed. Mark Sutton, International Nitrogen Initiative, underlined that both all nutrients need to be addressed, but that nutrients tend to be forgotten. He underlined the economic significance: nitrogen losses represent some 200 billion US$ fertiliser value worldwide, and societal a further 70 to 320 billion US$. That is in total, in Europe, around 1/3 of the CAP budget. He welcomed the proposed EU objective to halve nutrient pollution by 2030 in the Farm-to Fork strategy which echoes the United Nationals Environment Assembly resolution EA.4 (march 2019, see ESPP eNews n° 33). Chiara Manoli, ECOFI, underlined the progress made in organic fertilisers, with standardisation of production processes. This enables recycling of nutrients and carbon in secondary materials such as wine or food processing wastes, poultry litter from egg production, fish meal, residuals from tanning, etc., and brings organic carbon to soil, contributing to soil fertility and to water retention. She underlined the importance of the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation which puts in place, for the first time, EU criteria for organic fertilisers, but notes that outstanding regulatory difficulties remain with Organic Farming and with Animal By-Products. Jannes Mes, President of the European Council of Young Farmers, underlined that farmers are motivated to reduce nutrient pollution, but cannot fund actions to improve nutrient management without public support. 
EU R&I Days 2020: 22nd September 2020, webinar with Katja Klasinc  and John Bell, European Commission, Mark Sutton, International Nitrogen Initiative, Chiara Manoli, ECOFI and Jannes Maes, European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) watch online

  

Webinars

Announced webinar: Phosphorus and climate change

A session at the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual symposium, 8th February 2021, will address how phosphorus losses to surface waters can accelerate greenhouse gas emissions, and how climate change can feed back to accentuate eutrophication, with John Downing, University of Minnesota, Laura Johnson, Heidelberg University and Ahren Britton, Ostara. This is supported by the ESPP – US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance joint SCOPE Newsletter special issues on nutrients and climate change: methane emissions (SCOPE Newsletter n°135); P runoff, catchment management and P in soil (coming soon); P and soil health links to climate; greenhouse emissions of nutrient management and recycling (both planned). 
Phosphorus and Climate Change: A Vicious Circle, AAAS Annual Symposium, 8th February 2021, 12h – 12h45 ET https://meetings.aaas.org/

 

German Phosphorus Platform (DPP) Forum

The annual DPP Forum, 24th September 2020, took place as a hybrid event with 135 participants (75 in Frankfurt). Presentations covered questions concerning the implementation of the German Phosphorus Recycling Ordonnance, status of development of P-recovery projects and installations in Germany, industry requirements and experience in processing recycled nutrient materials, and farmers’ expectations concerning recycled nutrient fertilisers. The specific requirements of the Organic Farming movement for recycled P products were discussed, including safety, life cycle analysis and of use of chemicals in processing. The Forum also discussed a proposed DPP Memorandum under preparation to propose actions to politicians to move forward phosphorus recycling.  
German Phosphorus Platform (DPP) annual Forum 2020.

  

US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance annual Forum

The two-day annual North America phosphorus event this year was two three-hour webinar sessions, with over 70 Participants worldwide.

Struvite recovery

Chris Hornback, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, underlined the need for federal clarification of the status of struvite recovered from sewage plants. The EPA enacted in 2017 that struvite could be authorised case by case*. * ESPP note: For example, Ostara CrystalGreen struvite is authorised in 42 US States (see SCOPE Newsletter n° 124).

Aaron Fisher, Water Research Foundation, underlined the advantages of struvite precipitation in reducing P in biosolids, reducing polymer use in dewatering and improving dewatering (higher dry matter content of biosolids).

Robert van Springelen and Matt Kuzma, Ostara, presented application of the company’s Crystal Green PEARL® struvite recovery to phosphate rock processing water, both in operating installations and in leachate from phosphogypsum ‘stacks’ at closed sites. A pre-treatment step removes fluoride and silica using lime. After struvite precipitation and membrane finishing, the treated process water can achieve discharge water quality. The technique and process is in TRL 9 stage and proven successful in full scale.

Manure phosphorus

Rebecca Muenich, Arizona State University, underlined that manure is a major nutrient pollution challenge and the biggest potential source for P-recycling in the USA. There is no national inventory of CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) or AFOs in that many do not have federal environmental permits*. R&D work is underway to develop a virtual mapping of AFOs and CAFOs across the USA based on remotely-sensed data. * ESPP note: the US EPA AFO web pages indicate that < 7 000 out of nearly 21 000 AFOs with numbers of animals above thresholds requiring NPDES permits did not have such a permit in 2019). The thresholds are equivalent to c. 700 dairy cows, 2 500 pigs or 125 000 broiler chickens. The EU requires permitting (under the Industrial Emissions Directive) from 2 000 pigs or 40 000 poultry (but not yet for intensive cattle installations).

Jeff Dawson, Renewable Nutrients, indicated that the company now holds the licence to the USDA QuickWash® process (see SCOPE Newsletter n°119). The enables P recovery from manure by acid solubilisation followed by calcium phosphate precipitation and can be combined with ammonia recovery using a gas-permeable membrane.

Rick Johnson, Applied Environmental Solutions, indicated that livestock farms face increasing manure management costs. NRC 590 limits spreading of phosphorus per hectare, so increasing manure transport distances and costs. P-recovery from manure can reduce the hectares needed for manure spreading by as much as 40%

An opportunity for the future was identified as mobile manure processing units, to enable cost-sharing between farmers.

Perspectives for nutrient management

Kerry McNamara, OCP, outlined the company’s actions to maximize phosphorus sustainability across its entire value chain, and to support sustainability at the farm level.  We have to make nutrient stewardship economically sustainable for farmers. OCP is committed to optimal use and recycling of phosphorus, as part of the company’s overall sustainability objectives, which include 100% clean energy and zero non-renewable water use by 2040 and carbon neutral by 2040, as well as maximizing P recovery at all stages of its operations.  As one example of that, OCP is currently exploring Ostara struvite recovery technology for its own processing discharge in Morocco, and also possibilities for phosphorus recycling from municipal sewage works.

Don Boesch, Maryland Center for Environmental Science, summarised actions to restore the Chesapeake Bay since the 1980’s. Objectives for nutrient input reductions fixed for 2000 and 2010 were not met. Mandatory TDMLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads) are now set for 2025, but reductions are likely to again fall short. Nutrient loads have been reduced since the 1990’s and smaller hypoxic areas are now seen in the Bay, but nutrient levels are not falling as fast as management models indicate. This could result from “lag time” due to P remobilisation from soil and sediments and nitrate storage in groundwater, but it could also be that agricultural nutrient BMP measures (Best Management Practices) are not being implemented as they should be, or that they are less effective than assumed. On the other hand, there seems to be more urban nutrient retention than management models estimate.

Agricultural nutrient loss models and their implementation

Carl Bolster and Barret Wessel, USDA-ARS, summarised work ongoing assessing models of farm nutrient runoff in the West Lake Erie Basin (TBET and Apple models). The objective is to be able to model losses by field, as a function of agricultural practice, with a model which uses available data and which is accessible to extension agents. Model results show high levels of uncertainties, and a challenge is how to identify these and how to communicate uncertainties to users.

Jon Winsten, Winrock International (a large non-profit organisation addressing agricultural, environmental, and social issues around the world) summarised test programmes in Ohio, Vermont, Wisconsin and Iowa. Farmers are paid for quantified outcomes, calculated for actions intended to reduce nutrient losses. Payments are, for example, c. 80 US$/kg P loss reduction, c. 11 US$/kg N, based on modelling, on a field by field basis. The models show very high variations between fields. Winrock provides farmers with field-by-field calculations of modelled nutrient loss reductions, of resulting payments, of estimated costs (e.g. income loss for land converted to buffer strips), and helps farmers find the most cost-effective actions. 
Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance annual forum 2020 – watch online.

  

Sewage sludge incineration ash recycling

This webinar organised by EasyMining discussed possibilities for recycling phosphorus, iron/aluminium and silica sand recovered from sewage sludge incineration ash.

Dines Thorberg, Biofos (Copenhagen public water company), indicated that farmers are sceptical about possible value of sewage sludge incineration ash as a P-fertiliser, and zinc and chrome levels are too high for land application. Ash produced today has c. 10%P (dry weight), and Copenhagen has a landfill of 350 000 tonnes of sludge incineration ash from the past with average c. 5% P. In the past, part of the ash was recycled into mineral wool construction materials. Biophos is currently tendering to find a process to recover phosphorus from the sludge incineration ash.

Yariv Cohen, EasyMining, indicated that the company’s Ash2Phos process (see ESPP P-Recycling Technology Catalogue) enables recovery of c. 90% of phosphorus and c. 80% of calcium are recovered from ash as quality grade calcium phosphates. 60-80% of aluminium and 10-20% of iron can be recycled to sewage works as coagulants. Higher levels of iron could be recovered, but at a higher cost and chemical consumption, whereas there is at present no regulatory or market driver. Over 95% of heavy metals are removed, leaving a clean silica sand material which can be used in concrete production. A 30 000 t(ash)/y Ash2Phos plant will generate c. 13 000 t/y of calcium phosphate product and 23 000 t/y of silica sand.

Cement production has high climate emissions (5 – 8% of anthropogenic GHG), so partial replacement with this silica sand could be very attractive to cement companies and could bring climate offset income.

Lisbeth Ottosen, Technical University of Denmark, summarised testing of EasyMining recovered silica sand to replace cement in concrete production. Kg-scale trials have shown that 20% of cement in concrete can be replaced by recovered silica sand, on condition that it is briefly milled (10 seconds) and with use of plasticisers to improve concrete quality. The resulting concrete has a reddish colour (iron in the silica sand) which can have aesthetic advantages, and shows only a small loss of strength. Further research is needed to understand the chemistry of cement phases, to optimise plasticiser use and to test durability of the resulting concrete over time.

Katrine Orland Led, Ramboll, outlined conclusions of a market analysis study into use of silica sand to replace cement in concrete. Interest of the cement industry to reduce climate emissions could be a driver. Potential applications include facades, pre-fabricated concrete structures, ground stabilisation, binding layers, paving stones and fibro-cement materials. 
“Value adding recycling of sewage sludge in concrete. Making concrete more sustainable”, EasyMining webinar, 2nd October 2020, available here https://www.easymining.se/article-startpage/sustainable-concrete-webinar/

 

P fertilisation and legacy P

Crop P needs in soils with “legacy phosphorus” were discussed as part of the IFS agronomy webinar series, with Sophie Nawara, currently working at the Soil Service of Belgium (the presented research was part of her PhD study at KU Leuven). Much of Europe had a highly positive soil P balance from the 1940’s (phosphorus application as mineral fertiliser and/or manure greater than crop offtake and runoff). There has been a decrease in phosphorus fertilisation in Western Europe over the last decades, and Western Europe’s overall P-balance is negative since around 2000 (from Fig. 5 in Zhang et al. 2017, see SCOPE Newsletter n°128). However, the over-fertilisation during decades has caused an accumulation of soil P (“legacy P”) resulting in current high soil P contents in some regions in Europe.

Two year greenhouse trials were carried out with eight different Flemish soils, using rye grass (fast growing, needs rapid P supply). Results showed that, in this specific case and after two years of P “draw down” by the rye grass, legacy P in soil alone (without addition P fertilisation) led to a significantly lower cumulative biomass than with P fertilisation in six out of eight of the soils, when adequate nitrogen was supplied, see Nawara et al. 2018.

Modelling suggests that a fast reacting P pool (e.g. adsorbed P in soil) can be accessed sufficiently rapidly by crops, but that legacy P is more present in a slow reacting P pool (e.g. into soil particles with ageing), which is only slowly accessible to plants. Fast growing plants experience P deficiency faster than slowly growing plants because of their higher P demand rate which exceeds faster the soil P supply rate.

Also some soil P tests were evaluated in their capacity to predict crop yield in a P depleting scenario. None of the soil P tests outperformed the others, meaning that, for European soils, the crop accessible P is generally well measured by the Olsen-P (0.5M NaHCO3) test and by the ammonium lactate soil test, both which are often used as standard soil P tests. 
International Fertiliser Society ( IFS) webinar series: programme, registration, access to recordings of past webinars (free for IFS members): HERE

 

Variable effectiveness of bio-based fertilisers

Data from ongoing trials of different secondary or recycled P fertilisers materials were presented in the IFS agronomy webinar series, with Patrick Forrestal, Teagasc, Ireland. National testing in Ireland in 2019 (n=30,466) show that around ¾ of Ireland’s soils need P applied to meet crop off-take (Index 1, 2 and 3 under the Irish system). Half of soils (in Index 1 and 2) also need P application to fill soil P sinks to be raised to the agronomic optimum (Index 3).

Seven different bio-based P materials were compared to control (no fertiliser) and TSP (triple super phosphate) in field trials in 2019 (results presented) and 2020 (ongoing): two struvites, cattle manure slurry, chicken litter ash, sewage sludge incineration ash, dairy residues complexed with aluminium or calcium. Ireland produces some 140 000 t/y of P-rich dairy processing residues. Soil was Index 1 and pH was limed to 6.1. Phosphorus was applied at 60 kgP/ha/year was applied, as per agronomic recommendations with four grass cuts per year.

Control with no P application showed only 40% of the yield with TSP. Yields were broadly similar for all the bio-based materials and for TSP.

For P-uptake, which is significant because it impacts P levels in grazing cattle diets, struvite and slurry shows, in results to date, P uptake somewhat higher than for TSP, poultry litter ash and Al-complexed dairy residue similar to TSP, and sewage sludge incineration ash and Ca-complexed dairy residue somewhat lower.

These results should not be considered conclusive, and statistical analysis will be completed when the 2020 field trial results can be also included in the dataset.

Limerick collaborators showed that certain soil P solubilizing bacteria are more active with bio-based fertilisers than with TSP. Higher P uptake with struvite, compared to TSP, may be because slower P release from struvite could be an advantage in this field setting where soil is competing to fix available P while crop uptake is progressing. 
This work is funded by the EU Interreg project ReNu2Farm and the EU H2020 project Nutri2Cycle. International Fertiliser Society ( IFS) webinar series: programme, registration, access to recordings of past webinars (free for IFS members): HERE

  

Nutrient recovery 

RAVITA P-recovery test results published

Lab tests were carried out on sludges resulting from post-precipitation of phosphates from the Viikinmäki municipal sewage works, Helsinki: coagulant dosing downstream of secondary treatment, followed by disc filtration (RAVITA process, see SCOPE Newsletter n°132). The RAVITA sludges were precipitated using either iron or aluminium coagulant and were tested as received (11 – 14% DM) or after incineration (550°C for 2 hours). Leaching with phosphoric acid was done in previously optimised conditions: 0.5M acid, 6 hours for aluminium; 2M acid, 1 hour for iron. Results showed c. 85% extraction from sludge and 99% from ash for aluminium; but only c. 37% from sludge and 68% from ash for iron. Approx. 95% leaching of phosphorus was achieved with both ashes, but no data is given for P leaching efficiency from the sludges (because of water content). The higher leaching of P compared to Fe or Al suggests that a significant part of these elements is not bound to phosphorus. The authors note that with aluminium, the leached P is mainly as soluble phosphate, whereas with iron, most is as soluble FeH2PO42+ ions, so that further processing would be necessary to separate the phosphorus from the iron. Heavy metals were analysed in the RAVITA sludges and found to be low, but it is not clear whether this is because they are retained in the secondary sludge or whether the Helsinki sewage has lower heavy metals than generally in Europe.  The authors conclude that incineration of the RAVITA sludges improves potential for recovery of P and of Fe/Al. However, this may not be practical because the organic content of these post-precipitation sludges is low. 
“To incinerate or not? Effects of incineration on the concentrations of heavy metals and leaching efficiency of post-precipitated sewage sludge (RAVITATM)”, S. Reuna, A. Väisänen, Waste Management 118 (2020) 241–246, DOI.

 

N2 Applied inaugurates new production hall N2 applied enews048

On 21st September, ESPP member N2 Applied opened a new nitrogen recovery unit production hall, with Raymond Robertsen, Norway State Secretary of Regional Development and Erik Solheim, former UNEP Director and Norwegian Minister, and Ola Hedstein, CEO of Norwegian Agricultural Cooperatives. N2 Applied’s plasma technology uses air, electricity and manure slurry to create an organic and mineral N containing fertiliser which has no odour, reduced emissions and higher nitrogen content. Farm installations fit into a haulage container. An LCA study by 2.-0 LCA indicates that a combination of digestion of manure to produce biogas and N2 Applied technology can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farming by -36% (compared to baseline): anaerobic digestion of manure to produce biogas -16%, N2 Applied alone (treating manure) -27%; biogas + N2 Applied (treating digestate) -36%.

 

P-recovery from pharmaceutical industry wastewater

A process to remove and recover phosphorus from wastewater from the production of the antibiotic, Fosfomycin (1R-2S-epoxypropyl phosphonic acid), was tested at the lab scale. The wastewater contains, in particular, high levels of antiobiotic, preventing biological treatment, refractory organophosphorus chemicals, solvents and the complexing agent EDTA. A thermal process (wet air oxidation WAO, 200°C, oxygen @ 1 MPa, pH 11.2, 3 hours) converted 99% of organic phosphorus into soluble inorganic phosphate and removed nearly 60% of COD. Phosphorus was then removed and recovered from the liquor (which had nearly 1 000 mgP/l) by precipitation of calcium phosphate or struvite, achieving in appropriate conditions over 99% P removal and residual phosphorus below 5 mgP/l. The precipitated phosphates showed low heavy metal levels, but organic or pharmaceutical residues would need to also be verified. The treated liquor was suitable for biological treatment. 
“Phosphorus recovery from fosfomycin pharmaceutical wastewater by wet air oxidation and phosphate crystallization”, G. Giu et al., Chemosphere 84 (2011) 241–246, DOI

 

German national “RePhoR” P-recovery projects announced

The German Federal Research Ministry (BMBF) has published stage two results of its RePhoR = Regional Phosphorus Recycling call for projects.  The call was published in February 2018 and consisted of two stages: a “concept” stage, and an “implementation” stage.

19 projects were selected in stage 1, which funded the preparation of “regional P-recycling and sewage sludge reuse strategies” (leading to a 25-page document). These are listed on page 343 of this document (article by Helmut Löwe, BMBF.

The list of projects now published corresponds to the second stage of this call, that is those selected to “receive funding for the implementation of the concepts”. The call states that these should be “large-scale implementation of … processes” and specifies “exemplary development and large-scale implementation of processes for P recovery under real conditions for different plant sizes and types (at least TRL 6 for short)”.

However, some of the seven selected projects nonetheless appear to be R&D scale and to not correspond to the large-scale process implementation specified in the call.

  • ESPP member Outotec is part of the R-Rhenania project, which will build and operate an AshDec® plant to recover phosphorus from 30 000 t(ash)/y of sewage sludge incineration ash, with the Altenstadt – Emter sewage sludge incineration plant (Bavaria) and the fertiliser manufacturer sePura, with BAM, KWB, LfL in Bavaria, FEhS and Bonn University. AshDec: see SCOPE Newsletter n°132.
  • Amphore (Ruhr) website, led by Ruhrverband, will address the full value chain of P recycling as an integral part of sewage sludge use, including the development of sludge and ash management structures organised by five public waterboards. The project will built a 3 tonnes/day (1 000 t/(ash)y) plant, at a site of Emschergenossenschaft / Lippeverband (ESPP member), using adjusted PARFORCE technology (see ESPP P-Recycling Technology Catalogue). Two other ESPP members, Yara and the German Phosphorus Platform (DPP), are also involved in the project.
  • ESPP member Veolia (Veolia Klärschlammverwertung Deutschland GmbH) is part of the DreiSATS project (Saxony), website, with Carbotechnik Energiesysteme GmbH, Pontes Pabuli GmbH, Lufttechnik Crimmitschau GmbH, Fraunhofer IKTS and with MFPA at the Bauhaus University Weimar. The objective is to develop combining incineration of dried sewage sludge (DM > 90%) in a dust firing system. The ashes are then treated with acid, followed by a solid-liquid separation, then granulation of the treated ash solids (Pontes Pabuli process), to produce fertilisers. Heavy metals are removed in the incineration process by a hot gas filtration unit and additionally during the ash treatment process. A 20 – 50 kg/h ash demonstration plant is planned.
  • KlimaPhoNds (Lower Saxony), website, led by CUTEC Research Centre of Technical University Clausthal) aims to combine P-recovery with sewage sludge drying and combustion technologies to enable reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Struvite will be precipitated from sewage sludge liquors (by a new process), then calcinated to recover ammonia and remove organics, then processed using PARFORCE technology (different from the PARFORCE ash process cited in SATELLITE below) to produce phosphoric acid and magnesium chloride. Announced scale is 1-2 t/day struvite processing, with struvite production and sludge processing commercial scale.
  • P-Net (Harz – Heide region), led by Technical University of Braunschweig, aims to improve process engineering of struvite production and to develop regional markets for recovered struvite, with a regional cluster of sewage works recovering struvite. Scale of R&D pilot plant not specified.
  • RePhoRM (Frankfurt Rhein Main region) will extend the Glatt PHOS4green technology (see ESPP P-Recycling Technology Catalogue). Heavy metal content in sewage sludge incineration ash will be reduced by a wet chemical process. The ash will then be reacted with phosphoric acid to improve plant availability of phosphorus in the ash, then granulated as fertiliser. The heavy metal reduction process will be tested in a 50kg batch pilot. The PHOS4green technology will be tested up to 200 kg/batch. The enhanced PHOS4green technology will be implemented on a commercial scale (capacity to be defined) at the Hoechst Industrial Park, Frankfurt am Main.
  • SATELLITE (Lower Saxony), website, led by ISAH Leibniz Universität Hannover, involves an inter-municipal cooperation for sludge incineration and P recovery (23 shareholders, sludge of over 40 communities, https://www.knrn.de/). Research focuses on upstream sludge quality and transport logistics and will also look at the potential of farm manure and nitrogen. The project includes decentralised recovery of P as struvite or calcium phosphate, ammonia recovery by sequential evaporation (SEQUESTA) and stripping, and centralised sludge incineration (37 000 tDM sludge/year) at Hildesheim. PARFORCE technology is cited for P-recovery from the sewage sludge (see ESPP P-Recycling Technology Catalogue This is different from the PARFORCE struvite process in KlimaPhoNds above). The SATELLITE project includes research in phase 1 of the project, implementation in phase 2.

RePhoR, Germany, regional phosphorus recycling joint projects, September 2020 https://www.bmbf-rephor.de/verbundprojekte/  
RePhoR  launch event and internal workshop, 3rd & 4th November 2020 https://www.bmbf-rephor.de/veranstaltungen/rephor-kick-off-seminar/

  

Solubilisation of P from ash and other materials by microorganisms

Several papers present tests ongoing in Poland (Wroclaw, Olsztyn, Puławy) solubilising phosphorus secondary materials using 7-day culture with microorganisms, granulating the resulting material, and then testing in field trials. Secondary materials used in the different tests reported are ground bio-P-SSIA (sewage sludge incineration ash from a sewage works operating biological P-removal), ground bones (cooked chicken or fish bones), MBM (meat and bone meal ash). Microorganisms tested include Bacillus magaterium, a large, rod-like, Gram- positive bacteria, naturally occurring in a range of habitats, and widely studied, and used in industry (to produce penicillin amidase, used to make synthetic penicillin) and Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans [a] Bacillus cereus, Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus thuringiensis (results not yet published).

For example, in a 2019 paper [b], at 30 litre batch reactor lab scale, with bio-P-SSIA and poultry bones as substrates, pH in the culture fell to c. 4-5 within one day, then was relatively stable. P in the culture solution increased after 7 days during B. magaterium culture from near zero to c. 200 mgP-PO4/l for sewage sludge incineration ash or over 600 mgP-PO4/l for poultry bones, that is c. 9% for ash and 23% of total P in the materials. Around 100% of the P in ash and was found to be extractable (with water or citrate) after 7 days.

Granulation has been tested [c] at semi-technical scale (c. 100 kg/h capacity batch plate granulator), after drying of the whole culture at 60°C for three days, thus retaining the P in the culture solution, using various granulation agents: dried blood, superphosphate, bentonite, gypsum, sodium lignosulphonate, molasses.

The granulated micro-organism-activated materials (based on bones and sewage sludge incineration ash) have been tested in four field trials in Poland with winter and spring wheat, showing fertiliser effectiveness similar to phosphate rock and to a low-medium dose of superphosphate (18 or 26 kgP/ha) but lower that a standard agronomic recommendation dose of superphosphate (35 kgP/ha) when comparing to the same dose of P in the recycled fertiliser material [f].

Contaminant levels in the produced recycled fertilisers were low with bones, but up to 22 mg/kg for lead, 0.8 mg/kg for cadmium and 880 mg/kg for copper (from sewage sludge incineration ash). However, application at c. 35 kgP/ha resulted in no detectable change in levels of cadmium or lead in soil or in crops grown [d].

Assessment in the field trials also showed that the use of these recycled fertilisers did not modify number, biomass or species composition of earthworms [e].

[a] Valorization of Phosphorus Secondary Raw Materials by Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, M. Wyciszkiewicz, A. Saeid, et al., Molecules 2017, 22, 473; DOI: 10.3390/molecules22030473 and Valorization of ash and spent mushroom substrate via solid-state
solubilization by Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, A. Saeid & A. Patel, Waste Management 87 (2019) 612–620, DOI: 10.1016/j.wasman.2019.02.048  
[b] Production of phosphorus biofertilizer based on the renewable materials in large laboratory scale, M. Wyciszkiewicz, A. Saeid, et al., Open Chem., 2019; 17: 893–901, DOI: 10.1515/chem-2019-0057  
[c] Obtaining granular fertilizers based on ashes from combustion of waste residues and ground bones using phosphorous solubilization with bacteria Bacillus megaterium, M. Rolewicz et al., J Env Management, Volume 216, 15 June 2018, Pages 128-132 DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2017.05.004 
[d] New phosphorus biofertilizers from renewable raw materials in the aspect of cadmium and lead contents in soil and plants, M. Jastrzebska, A. Saeid, et al., Open Chem., 2018; 16: 35–49 DOI: /10.1515/chem-2018-0004 
[e] Phosphorus Fertilizers from Sewage Sludge Ash and Animal Blood Have No Effect on Earthworms, M. Jastrzebska et al., Agronomy 2020, 10, 525; DOI:10.3390/agronomy10040525 
[f] Fertiliser from sewage sludge ash instead of conventional phosphorus fertilisers? M. Jastrzebska, A. Saeid, et al., Plant Soil Environ., Vol. 64, 2018, No.10, 504–511 DOI : 10.17221/347/2018-PSE

  

Research

UN Oceans Science

OceanForesters are looking for partners, supporters or for other technologies to include, for a project for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The project will target “Nutrient Recycling Seafood Science”. 
United Nations Ocean Decade. ‘Nutrient Recycling Seafood Science’ project page on the United Nations Decade website. Contact Mark Capron, OceanForesters.

 

Global soil P depletion due to erosion

Modelling of P inputs to and losses from cropland suggests that soils are losing 2 kgP/ha/yr on average worldwide (-1.5 for Europe). Worldwide, the study estimates that arable land is depleted of c. 6.3 MtP/y (1.5 lost in organic P and 4.6 lost as inorganic P). This compares to estimates of losses ranging from c. 1 to 18 MtP/y in other publications. Soil P depletion is worst in Africa and Eastern Europe. The authors estimate that around half of this worldwide soil P depletion is due to soil erosion by water, concluding that agricultural management practices to reduce soil erosion are important to reduce soil P depletion.
“Global phosphorus shortage will be aggravated by soil erosion”, C. Alewell et al., (2020) 11:4546, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18326-7

 

Government dietary guidelines inadequate for health and environment

A modelling study published in the British Medical Journal (Springmann et al. 2020), publicised in the media (see e.g. The Guardian), compares national governmental food based dietary guidelines in 85 countries, WHO dietary recommendations and the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems 2019 recommendations (see ESPP eNews n°30). Based on country-specific data, impacts were compared to internationally agreed objectives on greenhouse gas emissions (Paris), health (Action Agenda on Non-Communicable Diseases), freshwater use, land use (Aichi biodiversity targets), nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser application (planetary boundaries). Adoption of current national dietary guidelines would result in an overall reduction in premature mortality of 15% (obesity, heart disease, etc) and a similar reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. However, most of the national guidelines are not adequate to achieve the internationally agreed environmental or health objectives. The EAT-Lancet recommendations would deliver around 1/3 more reduction in mortality and around 3x more reduction in greenhouse gas emissions than the national guidelines.

Below: extracts from fig. 5 page 9 of the paper.

Eat Lancet redrawn image

The analysis concludes that adoption of national dietary guidelines worldwide would not significantly modify global use of phosphorus and nitrogen fertiliser (slight increase in P consumption, near zero decrease in N consumption). This is not shown in extracts above where only Europe is shown, see fig. 5 page 9 of paper. This is because increased fertiliser use for fruit, vegetable and dairy production offsets reduced demand for staple crops (grains, potatoes), meat and sugar. In Europe, however (see extracts above), adoption of national dietary recommendations leads to around -10% reduction in N and P consumption, mainly because of reduced pork and staple crop consumption.

At the global level, adoption of the EAT-Lancet recommended diet would lead to significant (c. -10%) reduction in phosphorus use, and an even higher (c. -15%) reduction in N use, again mainly because of reduced consumption of pork and staples (grains & potatoes), despite the increases resulting from consumption of fruit & vegetables, oils, nuts & seeds.

The authors note that national dietary guidelines generally recommend an increase in dairy consumption (see extract figure for Europe above) whereas EAT-Lancet recommends to reduce dairy to one serving or one glass of milk per day. They also note that reducing dietary calory intake, particularly associated to staple crops and sugar, is significant in reducing phosphorus and nitrogen use, whilst also reducing health risk from obesity.

ESPP notes that the impacts on P and N use seem to differ significantly from the impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, in that the latter are principally driven by red meat consumption (which also drives health impacts) whereas P and N use are not mainly driven by red meat consumption. Also, adoption of national dietary recommendations leads to increased GHG emissions in all regions worldwide, whereas it appears to lead to reduced P and N use (fig. 6, page 10 of the paper). ESPP underlines, especially for P, that the results of this paper are based on other publications’ estimates of e.g. impacts of meat production on overall phosphorus use, which probably need further research, so that although the direction of conclusions is clear, further research is needed for quantification.

In an earlier study (2018), Springmann et al. modelled increases in environmental impact from the food system by 2050 resulting from world population and income increases, concluding c. 50% increases in phosphorus and nitrogen use and c. 90% increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Whereas changes in diets alone are estimated to potentially (with most ambitious scenario) reduce future GHG emissions to below current levels and close to respecting planetary boundaries, diet changes are estimated to have much lower impact on N and P use. On the other hand, technologies, including improved fertiliser and animal feed use, water basin management and manure management, alone, are estimated to potentially reduce P use below current levels and within planetary guidelines, and are also the measure with the highest mitigation potential for N use. The authors conclude that a combination of dietary change, technologies and reductions in food loss and waste is necessary to avoid increased environmental pressure from the food system and to enable respect of planetary boundaries. 
“The healthiness and sustainability of national and global food based dietary guidelines: modelling study”, M. Springmann et al., MJ 2020; 370: m2322 DOI 
See also the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems 2019 in ESPP eNews n°30 
“Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits”, M. Springmann et al., Nature volume 562, pages519–525(2018) DOI

 

Circular Agronomics project update

This Horizon 2020 project is now running for 2 years and aims to improve agricultural nutrient use efficiency whilst reducing greenhouse emissions, protecting soil carbon stocks and addressing the social, economic and political dimensions. The project looks at practices including seeding, type and application of recovered fertilisers, dairy cow feed composition and manure derived fertigation. Nutrient recovery techniques including vacuum degassing and struvite precipitation without addition of chemicals are tested.

Despite difficulties related to Covid and to irregular weather conditions, the six case studies have already generated valuable results:

- Catalonia (Spain): precision feeding of cows reduced N concentrations in urine by 40% without impairing milk production.

- Brandenburg (Germany): low rainfall can lead to overapplication of up to 50 kg/ha N

- Lungau (Austria): above average (6,480 l/ha) milk yields in Organic Farming in the Austrian Alpes

- Emilia Romagna (Italy): fertigation by sub-surface drip lines with ultra-low N emissions and crop yield and energy (fuel) use advantages of sod-seeding (minimum tillage) of winter wheat

- Gelderland (the Netherlands): demonstration of struvite, not only as P fertiliser, but also as an effective N fertiliser with very low N2O and NO3 emissions compared to urea, and that digested pig slurry has much lower N2O emissions than raw slurry for the same crop yield. Perennial grass types, alone or in combination with clover can also have a significant impact on N emissions but clover monocultures should be avoided.

- Moravia (Czech Republic): whey from dairies can be used as nutrient carrier whereas dosage and application still need to be determined.

https://www.circularagronomics.eu/

 

Fate of pharmaceuticals in manure processing

Twelve pharmaceuticals were detected in pig manure and slaughterhouse sludge in Catalunya, Spain. All twelve were found in manure, at concentrations up to 6600 µg/kg in the solid fraction (for doxycycline, a tetracycline antibiotic used to treat pneumonia, Lyme disease, cholera …), and most were found in the slaughterhouse waste. Both these 12 pharmaceuticals and five ARG (antibiotic resistance genes) were measured through a processing plant handling c. 7 000 t/y of manure and 11 000 t/y slaughterhouse sludge with an anaerobic digester (mesophilic, 75-80 days, producing biogas), followed by solid/liquid separation (centrifuge) and finally reverse osmosis (RO) of the liquid digestate. Mass balances for the pharmaceuticals were calculated based on measured concentrations and flows. Results are complex, in that for some periods/substances the flow of pharmaceuticals out of the anaerobic digester seems to be higher than that in the inlet (negative removal).  This could be explained by several factors, such as the collection of the samples within the same day and to some analytical constraints (i.e. matrix effects). Overall, the anaerobic digester very significantly removed macrolide antibiotics (tilmicosin, tylosin), somewhat removed flubendazole and flunixin, but did not generally remove (except in some specific cases) lincomycin, fluoroquinolone or tetracycline antibiotics. In solid/liquid separation, most of the pharmaceuticals were retained in the solid fraction (except lincomycin and tiamulin), with sorption not being correlated to logKow values. The RO membrane however generally removed up to 90% of the pharmaceuticals. For ARGs, reduction was also limited in the anaerobic digester, little or no reduction in solid/liquid separation and again significant reduction through the RO membrane. 
“Fate of pharmaceuticals and antibiotic resistance genes in a full-scale on-farm livestock waste treatment plant”, M. Gros et al., Journal of Hazardous Materials 378 (2019) 120716, DOI

 

ESPP Members

  

ESPP members logos 9 2020

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews047
Download as PDF

EU consultations 
EU consultation on sustainable aquaculture 
EU consultations on agriculture policy (CAP) 
EU consultation on environmental product claims

Information and events 
European Research & Innovation Days 
EU mission on “Soil health and food” Mission 
IFS agronomics webinars 
Webinar on Nutrient recycling in the Baltic Sea Region 
Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance Forum 
Phosphorus Transport Modeling Group

Calls for materials for testing 
Looking for samples: fertiliser testing of iron phosphate 
Looking for biostimulant or iron releasing products for testing 

ESPP members 
UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) 
LCA of enhanced struvite recovery 
Yara sustainable initiatives in Finland and Sweden

Policy 
EU “Safemanure” (RENURE) report published 
Mineral fertilisers recovered from manures not addressed 
ESPP input to the EU on the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive 
Societal costs of eutrophication in Lake Erie 
Limited effectiveness of detergent P bans 
Irish Nutrient Platform launch webinar 
How effective is phytase in pig feed?

Research 
Call for papers: Sustainable phosphorus use in agriculture 
Phosphorus flows in Brussels 
LCA of enhanced struvite recovery 
Review of struvite LCA studies 
Struvite safety 
Solubility of feed phosphates and overall P use efficiency 
Microalgae to remove and recycle nutrients from digestates 
Baltic BONUS RETURN final webinar 
Technologies for nutrient management in the Baltic

ESPP members

EU consultations

EU consultation on sustainable aquaculture

The EU has opened a public consultation on EU Strategic Guidelines for Aquaculture, open to 27th October 2020. The current Guidelines (COM(2013)229) are misleadingly titled “Sustainable Development of EU Aquaculture), whereas in fact they address only competitivity (simplification of licensing, marketing, level playing field) and facilitating implantation (spatial planning). ESPP submitted to the prior Roadmap consultation suggesting to include nutrient efficiency of aquaculture feed and nutrient footprints (making the link to the nutrient strategy proposed in Horizon Europe) and underlined the need to reduce nutrient losses from both offshore and fresh water aquaculture and to develop nutrient recycling. Sustainability and fish feed do appear in the short online questionnaire for the current consultation. 
EU consultation on aquaculture HERE

EU consultations on agriculture policy (CAP)

The European Commission has opened, to 22nd October 2020, three public consultations on the impacts of EU agriculture policy on water, on habitats / landscape / biodiversity and on sustainable management of soil. The objective is to assess the impacts of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy), as per the 2013 reform, which includes the obligation for farmers (condition of subsidies) to respect mandatory rules (“cross-compliance”), including both statutory management requirements (SMR) and standards of good agricultural and environmental conditions (GAEC). Additionally, there exist voluntary agri-environment-climate measures (AECM) and subsidies for farmers in areas subject to natural constraints (Natura 2000, Water Framework Directive restrictions). The consultation consists of a public questionnaire asking whether respondents consider that the CAP contributes to different environmental objectives and questions on effectiveness or unintended consequences of CAP measures. 
EU public consultations open to 22nd October 2020 on the impacts of the Common Agricultural Policy on water, on habitats, landscapes and biodiversity, and on sustainable management of soil.

EU consultation on environmental product claims

An Eu public consultation is open to 3rd December 2020 on “Substantiating claims of environmental performance for products, services and businesses”. This targets PEFs (Product Environmental Footprints) but also addresses ecolabels, greenwashing, environmental performance reporting, sustainability ratings, harmonisation of environmental information. The consultation aims to respond to the aim of establishing “labelling on the sustainability performance of food products” announced in the Farm-to-Fork Strategy. The announced objective is to identify policy options for substantiating environmental claims using Environmental Footprint methods. The online questionnaire addresses, in detail, what types of environmental claims should be authorised and under what conditions, how environmental footprint results should be communicated, how claims should be verified (conformity assessment). 
EU consultation on product environmental claims and PEFs (Product Environmental Footprints) HERE

 

Information and events

European Research & Innovation Days

This EU annual event (this year virtual, 22-24 September 2020) aims to make links between policymakers, researchers and stakeholders to shape the future of R&I in Europe. The event’s ten virtual ‘hubs’ include Green Deal, Missions and Horizon Europe. The programme includes, 22 September Green Deal Hub: 12h45-13h30 Uncrossing Planetary Boundaries: How to get nutrient flows back within safe ecological limits? and 14h-15h Workshop on Circular and Bio-based: towards a carbon neutral and sustainable economy 
Programme and registration here

EU mission on “Soil health and food” Mission

An interview of the chair of this Horizon Europe R&D “Mission”, Cees Veerman, suggests that the Mission seems to have changed its name to “Caring for soil is caring for life” and that there now seems to be now no content directly addressing food (other than that healthy soil is important for food production). The Mission now seems to be entirely orientated towards soil quality. (other than that healthy soil is important for food production). A short and confidential consultation (not announced on the EU’s public consultation website, 1st to 14th September 2020 only) HERE and #MissionSoil called for ideas for this Mission inviting submission of up to 5 short idea “proposals” (actions, priorities) to address soil health, and inviting to vote on proposals already on line. An interview of chair of the Mission Board, Cees Veerman, indicates that the Mission seems to have changed its name to “Caring for soil is caring for life” and there now seems to be now no content directly addressing food in the mission, which seems entirely orientate towards soil (other than that healthy soil is important for food production). 
Online consultation HERE and #MissionSoil

IFS agronomics webinars

To replace the annual Cambridge agronomy conference, the International Fertiliser Society (IFS) is organising a series of webinars, to February 2021, covering themes such as P availability and depletion in soil (2nd October), fertilisers from recycled materials (10th November), digital tools and soil nutrient sensors, accurate fertiliser application, nitrogen fertilisation of cereals, soil boron, …  
“Phosphorus (P) availability during the depletion of soil P”, Sophie Nawara, Fien Amery, Hilde Vandendriessche, Roel Merckx and Erik Smolders, Friday 2nd October 14h00 CEST 
“Exploring variations in demand for fertilisers derived from recycling in NW Europe” and “New developments in the production of plant-available phosphorus from abattoir waste”, Romke Postma, Martin Blackwell, Tegan Darch, Tuesday 10th November 14h00 CEST 

Full details of IFS webinar series (programme and registration): HERE

Webinar on Nutrient recycling in the Baltic Sea Region

Organised in the framework of the 11th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBR), with SuMaNu and BSAG, this workshop will discuss input to the HELCOM Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy to be adopted in 2021, including eutrophication mitigation, manure management, Circular Economy and links to climate change. Breakout groups will address markets for recycled fertiliser products, cooperation in P management in the Baltic region and reducing contaminants in sewage to ensure safety of recycled nutrient materials; 
Webinar workshop: ““Unlocking the nutrient recycling potential in the Baltic Sea Region” (SuMaNu – EU SBRS): 
30th September 2020, 13h-15h30 CETprogramme and registration 

HELCOM Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy: see presentation by Marja-Liisa Tapio-Biström.Finland Ministry for Agriculture, at the 12th HELCOM Meeting of the Working Group on Reduction of Pressures from the Baltic Sea Catchment Area 21/4/2020 HERE

Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance Forum

The SPA’s annual Forum is this year virtual, 30th September and 1st October, 12h-15h00 EST. This year’s programme addresses regulation of recycled nutrient products, nutrient recovery operation, climate change and eutrophication, pay-for-performance nutrient pollution mitigation, phosphorus transport modelling … 
Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance Forum 2020, 30th September and 1st October, 12h-15h00 ET (New York time) on both days.  HERE.

Phosphorus Transport Modeling Group

The Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance Phosphorus Transport Modeling Group brings together researchers and practitioners to discuss use and improvement of soil, water and watershed P transport models, such as Annual Phosphorus Loss Estimator Tool (APLE) or Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). The group’s second meeting in late 2019 identified the need to cross-validate models, to integrate across scales and to compare with real edge-of-field P runoff data. 
Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance Phosphorus Transport Modeling Group HERE and summary November 2019 meeting HERE.

  

Calls for materials for testing 

Looking for samples: fertiliser testing of iron phosphate

The University of Seville is interested in samples of iron (II) phosphate (vivianite), which can form spontaneously in sewage works or in anaerobic digesters, for pot and field fertiliser tests. The objective, part of the EU-funded P-TRAP project, is to assess whether this form of iron phosphate can provide plant available phosphorus or iron to crops. 
Contact

Looking for biostimulant or iron releasing products for testing

The University of Vienna is looking for biostimulant products possibly able to release phosphorus from iron in soils (certain ligands, humic substances, siderophores …) for testing. As part of the EU-funded P-TRAP project, the objective is to identify products or chemicals which can be used to improve the fertiliser value of secondary materials containing iron phosphates (e.g. iron materials after use in phosphorus traps, sewage sludge from works operating chemical P-removal), or to deliver to crops in a combined fertilising product containing both iron phosphate (possibly as iron (II) phosphate, vivianite) and an iron-accessing biostimulant. 
Contact

 

ESPP members 

UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR)UKWIR logo with tag RGB

The UK & Irish water industry’s joint research organisation, UKWIR, has joined ESPP. UKWIR is the national research organisation serving all the water companies in the UK & Ireland. Our members are the 19 water companies of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland. Our research covers the whole managed water cycle and aligns well with the activities of ESPP in a number of key areas. In particular, how do we maximise recovery of useful resources and achieve zero waste?. Also, how will we deliver an environmentally sustainable wastewater service that meets customer and regulator expectations?. Maximising recovery of phosphorous from wastewater, and limiting its use in the treatment and distribution of potable water, are real challenges for the water industry as a whole, here and world-wide.  UKWIR is therefore keen to collaborate in new research projects through ESPP and learn from ESPP’s member organisations and network both in Europe and around the world. 
www.ukwir.org

LCA of enhanced struvite recovery

As part of the LIFE ENRICH project (ESPP member), a Life Cycle Analysis study compares two scenarios for struvite recovery before anaerobic digestion in a sewage works operating biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) in the Murcia-Este WWTP, Spain. In the first scenario WAS (waste active sludge) is thickened using dissolved air flotation and fermented during 24 h to maximize poly-P release then elutriated in gravity thickeners with primary sludge. Struvite recovery from the overflow was modelled, considering different thickening and mixing rates. In a second scenario, WASSTRIP-based phosphorus release was modelled: primary sludge was fermented to generate volatile fatty acids then mixed with WAS in anaerobic P-release tanks and the resulting soluble-P enriched solution, after dewatering, was sent to the struvite precipitation. The different scenarios were evaluated for the LCA based on real data from the existing WWTP and modelling of different configuration changes. The modelling concludes that under the elutriation scenario around 43% of influent phosphorus (P inflow to the WWTP) could be recovered as struvite, increasing to 48% with WASSTRIP. Greenhouse effect and total costs (TAEC, per m3 wastewater treated), related to the sludge line operation, were modelled to be respectively 2% and 18% lower with struvite recovery via elutriation than without struvite recovery, whereas they were both higher with the WASSTRIP-based configuration compared to without struvite recovery. 
“An integral approach to sludge handling in a WWTP operated for EBPR aiming phosphorus recovery: Simulation of alternatives, LCA and LCC Analyses”, M. Roldan et al., Water Research 175 (2020) 115647 DOI
For further information, LIFE ENRICH project website

Yara sustainable initiatives in Finland and Sweden

Finland-based, global fertiliser company (and ESPP member) has launched in Finland a 100% recycled, organic granular fertiliser product, eligible for Organic Farming. BIO 8-4-2 (NPK) is recommended as a supplementary fertiliser for all crops, for spring or autumn application, including for oilseeds, cereals, grassland, potatoes … 60% of P-content is calculated as plant accessible, and soil moisture facilitates nutrient release. Yara has also announced, with Lantmännen, a pilot project to use renewable energy for mineral fertiliser production, with the aim of reducing total CO2 impact of cereals by -20%. By working with the whole food chain, the objective is to reduce climate impact whilst minimising the price impact for consumers, despite the higher cost of renewable energy. Lantmännen is an agricultural cooperative of 25 000 Swedish farmers, with 10 000 staff and operations in 20 countries, in agriculture, machinery, bioenergy and food products and brands including AXA, Bonjour, Kungsörnen, GoGreen, Gooh, FINN CRISP, Schulstad and Vaasan. 
Yara BIO 8-4-2 (in Finnish
“Lantmännen and Yara lead the way towards world’s first fossil free food chain”, 13th September 2020

  

Policy

EU “Safemanure” (RENURE) report published

The European Commission has published the final JRC “Safemanure” report (now termed REcovered Nitrogen from manURE = RENURE), proposing criteria to authorise manure-derived recycled fertilising products to be used above the 170 kgN/ha for manure-derived nitrogen fixed by the Nitrates Directive. 
This is absolutely not (proposed) “End-of-Manure” criteria, in that RENURE materials will remain be subject to specific management and use constraints (additional to those applicable to mineral fertilisers) to be fixed regionally for each Nitrates Vulnerable Zone by each Member State, concerning “timing and application rates …, good agro-environmental practices …ammonium emissions on field … and emissions to air resulting from storage”. The RENURE criteria also do not give an Animal By-Product End Point. Traceability and identification of RENURE materials as manure-derived will therefore be necessary. 
In addition to these specific regional use criteria, RENURE materials must have a TOC:TN ratio ≤ 3 or a mineral N:TN ratio ≥ 90%. The JRC report suggests that such materials “have a similar N leaching potential and agronomic efficiency to Haber-Bosch derived and equivalent chemical N fertilisers, when applied under good management practices”. ESPP input to the RENURE process underlined that these criteria effectively penalise organic carbon input to soil: ESPP suggested that the stability of the TOC should be taken into account. ESPP also noted that materials such as 90% raw manure spiked with 10% urea would pass the criteria, as do some raw manures and most liquid fractions of manures. At this stage, these criteria are a JRC (EU Joint Research Centre) technical proposal which must now be validated by the Member States (EU Nitrates Committee) and will then face the risk of possible legal challenges, in that some environmental or agricultural NGOs and some Member States may consider that this is an attempt to facilitate intensive livestock production and allow increased manure spreading in nutrient surplus regions by circumventing the provisions of the Nitrates Directive to limit spreading of nitrogen, art. 2(g) “excreted by livestock or a mixture of litter and waste products excreted by livestock, even in processed form" 
“Technical proposals for the safe use of processed manure above the threshold established for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones by the Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC)”, European Commission JRC, September 2020, D. Huygens et al., ISBN 978-92-76-21539-4

Mineral fertilisers recovered from manures not addressed

In March 2020, ESPP wrote to the European Commission concerning that the Safemanure approach (see above) “can make a positive contribution to nutrient recycling by facilitating local use of nutrients in certain manure or digestate fractions, under appropriate and specifically defined conditions and in line with existing legislative requirements” but underlining that this “will not resolve the current obstacle posed by the Nitrates Directive to placing on the market of high-quality fertilising products derived partly or completely from manure”.

ESPP suggested that, independently of Safemanure, the European Commission should develop criteria under which nitrogen chemicals extracted from manure, which no longer contain organic carbon, should no longer be considered manure “in a processed form” (art. 2(g)). ESPP suggested that organic carbon content <1% and conformity to Fertilising Products Regulation criteria for ‘Mineral Fertiliser’ would be appropriate to ensure that chemical properties are same as synthetic mineral N fertilisers (and so e.g. leaching risk). Also, biological and contaminant safety should be ensured. 
ESPP letter to European Commission requesting action on mineral fertilisers recovered from manure, 10th March 2020 http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

ESPP input to the EU on the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive

ESPP submitted input to the EU public consultation The European Commission (closed 8th September 2020, see eNews n°46) , on revision of the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD 1991/271). The UWWTD is recognised has having been effective in reducing pollution and in improving water quality. ESPP welcomes the proposed objectives of coherence with the Circular Economy (nutrient recycling) and “extended producer responsibility” for emerging contaminants of concern in sewage (industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, micro-plastics) which can be an obstacle to sewage sludge valorisation and nutrient recycling. ESPP underlined in particular the problem of perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS, PFOA). ESPP also welcomed that eutrophication is identified as a key issue needing to be addressed, in particular with storm overflows, small agglomerations < 2000 p.e. and septic tanks. 
EU public consultation on the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive” (closed 8th September 2020) and ESPP input submitted HERE.

Societal costs of eutrophication in Lake Erie

A new study estimates that (based on 2015 situation) algal blooms in Lake Erie (USA and Canada) cost some 272 million US$/year, mainly from recreation and inherent value placed on the lake by residents living < 100km from its shores (115 M€), tourism economic losses (110 M$) and loss of property value (36 M$). Accounted over 30 years, this means a total cost of over 5.3 billion US $). Actions to reduce nutrient losses, including reducing and improving fertiliser application, agricultural buffer measures, artificial wetlands, stormwater management and improvement of sewage treatment plants is estimated at 1.3 billion US$, whereas such actions are estimated to reduce algal bloom costs by 2.8 bn$ (over 30 years), so are considered cost-effective. There are few estimates of how much nutrient losses to surface waters cost to the economy and to society. Three are cited: Dodds 2007 (see SCOPE Newsletter n°72): eutrophication costs for the USA 1.5 – 4.8 bn$; Hoagland & Scatasta 2006 algal bloom costs (only) USA 82 m$ and EU 813 m$; Steffensen 2008 management of algal blooms (only) Australia 180 – 240 mAus$. 
“Estimating the economic costs of algal blooms in the Canadian Lake Erie Basin”, R. Smith et al., Harmful Algae 87 (2019) 101624 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hal.2019.101624

Limited effectiveness of detergent P bans

A discussion paper suggests that detergent phosphate bans in the USA will have only limited impact in reducing overall nutrient loads to surface waters. 95% of phosphate use in the USA is estimated to be in agriculture. Detergent P bans will not reduce inputs to surface waters where sewage passes through treatment works with binding P discharge consents, because operators will optimise to continue to discharge P to the specified limit, irrespective of changes in works inflow P load. In Minnesota, this was estimated to reduce the effectiveness of a detergent phosphate ban by 24 – 59%, and maybe by 80% in nutrient sensitive waters where most sewage treatment works are strictly consented. Local regulations, such as county-wide lawn P fertiliser bans, may show reduced effectiveness as consumers bypass the ban by purchasing online or in nearby regions: 40% of detergent purchases were estimated be coming from outside the county when Spokane had a local dishwasher P ban. The authors argue for a wide approach to policy addressing all sources of phosphorus. 
“The Effectiveness of Phosphate Bans in the United States”, D. Kaiser, Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, volume 14, issue 2, Summer 2020, pp. 331–338 DOI

Irish Nutrient Platform launch webinar

The launch webinar of the island of Ireland (Ireland and Northern Ireland) Nutrient Platform registered nearly 100 participants, 3rd September. Vincent O’Flaherty, NUI Galway, explained that a three-year programme had been funded by the EPA, to assess the feasibility of such a platform and then to prepare its establishment. A meeting a year ago, with 26 participating organisations, agreed objectives and terms of governance. Key objectives are to enable networking, to facilitate business opportunities in recycling and nutrient management, and dialogue with regulators and policy makers. Philip Cosgrave, Yara, presented the company’s commitment ongoing improvement of fertiliser sustainability, from production through packaging to use on the farm, in particular with advice to farmers. Yara is also actively developing recycling, including via the Nutrient Upcycling Alliance (see ESPP eNews n°41), for example with the launch in Finland of a fertiliser including recycled organic phosphorus (see above). Patrick Barrett, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, outlined national bioeconomy policy development and funding opportunities in Ireland and at the EU level for circular bioeconomy activities, and noted the potential of the new Platform to help develop and scale-up business opportunities and value-chains and inform bioeconomy policy implementation. Ian Marshall led a final panel, including ESPP, which discussed the interest of developing a nutrient balance for the whole island of Ireland, the challenges and opportunities for nutrient management from EU policies: fertiliser use commitments and the Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan in the Green Deal, achievement of Water Framework Directive objectives with climate change, the new Common Agricultural Policy and the FAST (Farm Sustainability) Tool for Nutrients, Eu R&D funding possibilities … The important role of nutrient platforms in facilitating dialogue and consensus between different industries and stakeholders was underlined. 
https://nutrientsustainability.ie/

How effective is phytase in pig feed?

The addition of phytase enzyme to pig feed to improve uptake of phosphorus is today standard procedure in most pig production. A significant part of phosphate in grains and seeds is in ‘phytate’, the plant’s natural phosphorus storage molecule, which is not digestible for non-ruminants (pigs, chickens, humans). By breaking down phytate, phytase enables pigs to take up this protein, so reducing P-loss to manure and reducing the need to add mineral feed phosphates (e.g. calcium phosphates). Recent trials suggest however that standard agronomic recommendations may overestimate the benefits of phytase. 72 pigs were fed diets with different levels of added phytase for 25 days, with either a diet with adequate P for optimal growth, or a P-deficient diet. Phytase improved P digestibility by nearly 50% in the P-deficient diet, but only by 12% in the optimal diet. The authors note that P-release curves for phytase are based on research using P-deficient diets, in order to obtain clear results, so that current diet recommendations may be overestimating the effects of phytate use on pig P uptake, and so resulting in feed supplying below optimal P levels. In both diets, phytase slightly improved digestibility of dry matter, gross energy and crude protein. 
“Does phytase release less phosphorus than we think?”, K. Olsen & J. Patience, Iowa Pork Industry Centre, Iowa State University, 7th July 2020 https://www.nationalhogfarmer.com/nutrition/does-phytase-release-less-phosphorus-we-think

 

Research

Call for papers: Sustainable phosphorus use in agriculture

Research or review papers are invited for a special issue of the journal Agronomy on sustainable use of phosphorus in agriculture: N and P in manure and crop requirements, soil-crop systems, from feed through livestock to manure nutrient mass balances and efficiencies, runoff and erosion, policies and governance, economics, ecotechnologies. 
Submission deadline is 31st March 2021
Agronomy Journal special issue submission form

Phosphorus flows in Brussels

A study analysed phosphorus flows through the Brussels Capital Region, Belgium (1.2 million people, 160 km2, of which <1% agriculture). Currently wastewater is treated at two sewage works, most food waste is incinerated with municipal refuse, and green waste is collected and composted. P inputs in the food system are estimated from food consumed by population, visitors, and commuters (based on Belgium national Food Consumption Survey data) plus food waste generated in consumption and trade. P in pet food, detergents and green waste is also estimated. The data suggests an average per capita dietary intake of 1.2 gP/day. The study concludes that main annual inflows are (approximately) 700 tP/y in food products, 100 tP/y in detergents, 100 tP/y in pet food and 100 tP/y in wastewater from outside the region treated at one of the sewage works. The main outflows are (approximately) 560 tP/y in treated sewage sludge, 140 tP/y in sewage works discharge and 160 tP/y (mainly from food waste) in municipal refuse incineration ash. Currently, the sewage sludge is either wet air oxidised, dried, then used as cover material in landfills, or incinerated in Belgium and Germany. The principal opportunities for P recycling are from sewage sludge, and secondly from food waste when separate collection will be scaled up. P losses from the sewage works to surface waters (currently 16% of inflow P) should be reduced with ongoing upgrades to the two works. Separate collection and anaerobic digestion of food waste within the city would increase the amount of electricity generated; P-recovery from sewage sludge does not affect the energy balance, because energy from sludge digestion is already valorised within the sewage works. The authors conclude that the potentially recyclable phosphorus could cover the fertiliser needs of the two neighbouring Brabant provinces, but only if the regulatory framework and social acceptance of such recycling are improved. 
“Phosphorus and energy flows through the food system of Brussels Capital Region”, A. Papangelou, W. Achten & E. Mathijs, Resources, Conservation & Recycling 156 (2020) 104687, DOI 

LCA of enhanced struvite recovery

As part of the LIFE ENRICH project, a Life Cycle Analysis study compares two scenarios for struvite recovery before anaerobic digestion in a sewage works operating biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) in the Murcia-Este WWTP, Spain. In the first scenario WAS (waste active sludge) is thickened using dissolved air flotation and fermented during 24 h to maximize poly-P release then elutriated in gravity thickeners with primary sludge. Struvite recovery from the overflow was modelled, considering different thickening and mixing rates. In a second scenario, WASSTRIP-based phosphorus release was modelled: primary sludge was fermented to generate volatile fatty acids then mixed with WAS in anaerobic P-release tanks and the resulting soluble-P enriched solution, after dewatering, was sent to the struvite precipitation. The different scenarios were evaluated for the LCA based on real data from the existing WWTP and modelling of different configuration changes. The modelling concludes that under the elutriation scenario around 43% of influent phosphorus (P inflow to the WWTP) could be recovered as struvite, increasing to 48% with WASSTRIP. Greenhouse effect and total costs (TAEC, per m3 wastewater treated), related to the sludge line operation, were modelled to be respectively 2% and 18% lower with struvite recovery via elutriation than without struvite recovery, whereas they were both higher with the WASSTRIP-based configuration compared to without struvite recovery. 
“An integral approach to sludge handling in a WWTP operated for EBPR aiming phosphorus recovery: Simulation of alternatives, LCA and LCC Analyses”, M. Roldan et al., Water Research 175 (2020) 115647 DOI 
For further information, LIFE ENRICH project website

Review of struvite LCA studies

Seven LCA studies of phosphorus recycling as struvite from wastewater are summarised, plus six of struvite from urine, dating from 2012 to 2018 (not including the paper above). The authors note considerable variation both in the LCA methodology and in the boundaries considered. Most of the LCAs include some “offset” for the environmental impacts of producing conventional fertilisers replaced by struvite, but some consider both N and P and some either only N or only P. Some of the LCAs include a sludge or nutrient management credit. Other aspects also vary considerably, with some of the LCAs, but not all, considering infrastructure, some considering that struvite might increase eutrophication (based on nutrient content of struvite applied as fertiliser), others that struvite reduces eutrophication (calculating the struvite nutrient content as removed from sewage works discharge), some but not all considering electricity consumption, etc. Furthermore, only two of the studies used data from full-scale struvite recovery installations, the others relying on literature or pilot plants. The authors suggest that that the most reliable (of the 13 studies assessed) is likely Remy & Jossa 2015 (P-REX deliverable 9.2,  see summary in SCOPE Newsletter n°115), which is based on data from full scale and pilot plants, includes fertiliser offsets and infrastructure, and considers a range of impact categories. This P-REX LCA concluded that struvite precipitation has net beneficial impacts on greenhouse emissions, and eutrophication and (for configurations with precipitation downstream of sludge dewatering) on human and environmental toxicity. 
“Life cycle assessment review of struvite precipitation in wastewater treatment”, M. Sena, A. Hicks, Resources, Conservation & Recycling 139 (2018) 194–204 DOI 
“Sustainable sewage sludge management fostering phosphorus recovery and energy efficiency”, P-REX deliverable 9.2 report, C. Remy & P. Jossa, 2015, 86 pages HERE 

Struvite safety

Two recent publications add to existing data confirming that struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate, a form of phosphate in which phosphorus is recovered from wastewaters) is safe and non-toxic.

Shim, Won et al.. (2019) tested the oral toxicity of struvite on rats. The struvite was precipitated from pig manure centrate in a 20 litre lab reactor, then pre-treated by microwave irradiation or heat sterilisation (550°C x 30 mins). 30 rats were fed, for 28 days, 1 or 10 mg/kg body weight/day either one of the two pre-treated struvites or no struvite (P levels as in standard rat diet). Rats were then sacrificed, body weight and blood metabolites measured and histopathological examinations carried out on liver, kidney, lung and heart. No significant differences were found in the struvite-fed rats and no abnormalities. The authors conclude no oral toxicity of struvite over 28 days at these doses. Based on solubility tests, they suggest that such pre-treated struvite could replace currently-used feed phosphates in livestock diets.

Kim et al. (2019, partly the same authors as Shim et al. above) tested the same pre-treated struvite in broiler chicken diet (204 chickens, inc. controls) for 28 days. Growth showed to be the same as with standard feed phosphate (dicalcium phosphate). No significant differences were found in histopathological examination of key organs: heart, kidney, liver, gizzard, intestines, tibia. The authors again conclude no oral toxicity under these conditions and at the dose of agronomic diet P levels, and possibility to use pre-treated struvite as a poultry feed P-additive.

NOTE: ESPP reports these studies because they add to other evidence of the toxicological safety of struvite, which is relevant for its handling etc. when used as a fertiliser or in industry. ESPP does not recommend using struvite recovered from wastewater or manure in animal feed, for reasons of public confidence. This might also be illegal in Europe because the Animal By-Products Regulations prohibit use of “faeces, urine … (or) … waste obtained from wastewaters …irrespective of processing” 
“In Vivo Toxicity and In Vitro Solubility Assessment of Pre-Treated Struvite as a Potential Alternative Phosphorus Source in Animal Feed”, S. Shim et al., Animals 2019, 9, 78, DOI:10.3390/ani9100785 
“Evaluation of Struvite Recovered from Swine Wastewater as an Alternative Phosphorus Source in Broiler Feed”, M. Kim et al., Agriculture 2019, 9, 221, DOI:10.3390/agriculture9100221 
See also: .“Design and optimization of fluidized bed reactor operating conditions for struvite recovery process from swine wastewater”, S. Shim, S. Won, et al., 2020, Processes, 8, 422 – 438 DOI: 10.3390/pr8040422 (Open Access)  
See also: “Simultaneous Removal of Pollutants and Recovery of Nutrients from High-Strength Swine Wastewater Using a Novel Integrated Treatment Process”, S. Shim, S. Won et al., Animals 2020, 10, 835; DOI: 10.3390/ani10050835 
S. Shim, A. Reza, S. Kim, N. Ahmed, S. Won, and C. Ra. 2020. “Simultaneous removal of pollutants and recovery of nutrients from high-strength swine wastewater using a novel integrated treatment process”, animals, 10, 835 – 853.

Solubility of feed phosphates and overall P use efficiency

Tests with 384 piglets and modelling suggest that use of a highly water soluble phosphate feed additive significantly improves whole-system PUE (phosphorus use efficiency), increases pig weight gain and reduces manure phosphorus, compared to use of a less water soluble phosphate. The 35-day pig trials used four different diet levels (0.05% to 0.2%) of water soluble MDCP mono-dicalcium phosphate and standard feed phosphate DCP dicalcium phosphate. Whole-system takes into account manure application to soil, feed crop production (soy, maize), fertiliser use, soil P accumulation and so phosphate rock consumption. The fertiliser value of manure from the piglets on different feeds was assessed by pot trials using lettuce, because manure is often recycled for vegetable production in China. Conclusions are that, for example, for 1 kg meat production, 0.1% water soluble phosphate feed additive improves whole system PUE by 18% compared to 0.2% DCP. 
“A higher water-soluble phosphorus supplement in pig diet improves the whole system phosphorus use efficiency”, L. Liu et al., J. Cleaner Production 272 (2020) 122586 DOI

Microalgae to remove and recycle nutrients from digestates

A review from China presents data and summarises opportunities for use of microalgae to remove nutrients from anaerobic digester effluents, with data mainly from pig manure digestate. Microalgae production can be used for extraction of lipids, biofuel production, as biomass to feed back into the digestor and increase methane production, or as an organic fertiliser and soil amendment. Microalgae have shown to tolerate high organic compound concentrations in digestates, and to be able to remove 30 – 96% of COD, 20 – 95% of ammonia-N and 20 – 98% of phosphorus, depending on conditions. Although microalgae prefer to metabolise ammonium nitrogen (rather than nitrate), high ammonium levels can be toxic to microalgae (> 120 mg/l). Another challenge is turbidity, limiting light and so microalgae photosynthesis. One simple solution to this is to dilute the digestate, but this poses logistic problems. 
“Nutrients removal and biomass production from anaerobic digested effluent by microalgae: A review”, G. Li et al., Int J Agric & Biol Eng, 2019; 12(5): 8–13, DOI Open Access.

Baltic BONUS RETURN final webinar

The BONUS RETURN project final conference (webinar 8 September 2020), attended by ca. 50 stakeholders, presented conclusions and recommendations on how ecotechnologies can turn nutrients and carbon from environmental problems into circular solutions in the Baltic Sea Region. The program was moderated by Arno Rosemarin (SEI). In the first session, the coordinator Karina Barquet (SEI) welcomed the audience and gave a short introduction to the program. Biljana Macura followed with a review of ecotechnologies for circulating nutrients and carbon in the Baltic Sea Region. Erik Kärrman (RISE) and Soren Marcus Pedersen (UCPH) presented a sustainability analysis of the three catchment areas selected as target regions for the program – river basins of 1,000-2,000 km² draining to the Baltic Sea – Fyrisån River (Uppland, Sweden), Vantaanjoki River (Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland) and Slupia River (Slupsk, Poland), offering to study pressures from agricultural and forest activities as well as from large, densely populated agglomerations. Jari Koskiaho (SYKE) and Tomasz Okruszko (WULS) presented the SWAT modelling results of the impact of ecotechnologies on nutrient levels in the three river basins. After the coffee break Sten Stenbeck (RISE) introduced the circular innovations that were pilot-tested during the project, referring to three selected emerging ecotechnologies for nutrient and carbon reuse (see below). After a review of barriers and opportunities for closing the loop in the Baltic Sea Region presented by Linn Järnberg and Nelson Ekane (both SEI), Mark Rasmussen, Olle Olson (both SEI), Marek Gielczewski (WULS) and Jari Koskiaho (SYKE) gave an overview of project related success stories. The use of phosphogypsum on cropland to retain phosphorus and reduce losses, proved particularly promising for widespread application in the Baltic region, potentially preventing 2,000 annual tons of phosphorus inflows to the Baltic Sea if implemented over large areas in a number of the riparian countries (see ESPP eNews n°36). After altogether ten years of testing, this practice can now be recommended for extensive application, using low-contaminant phosphogypsum (a by-product from processing of igneous phosphate rock), or natural gypsum where available, without worries for soil health and water quality. Finally, Steven Bachelder (Uppsala University) showed an amusing learning game before Karina Barquet (SEI) summarized and closed the session with recommendations for future policy and research 
BONUS RETURN project, 2017-2020: a joint program of 6 science partners from Denmark (University of Copenhagen), Finland (SYKE) and Poland (Warsaw University of Life Sciences), Sweden (Stockholm Environment Institute, Research Institutes of Sweden, Uppsala University), coordinated by the Stockholm Environment Institute. 
Recording of 8th September 2020 webinar.

Technologies for nutrient management in the Baltic

The BONUS RETURN project (see above) has published final reports on ecotechnologies for nutrient management in river basins and for nutrient and carbon reuse. The report on river basin management compared impacts of source separation of black water (toilet) and grey water (other household wastewater), nutrient removal in municipal wastewater and agricultural nutrient Best Management Practices (BMPs, including constructed wetlands). This concluded, in the catchments studied, that agricultural BMPs could reduce nutrient loads (N and P) by 30-40%, compared to 4-12% for actions addressing municipal wastewaters, or <1% by increasing agricultural soil carbon content. The report concludes that a combination of different measures will be needed, depending on local catchment situations, to reduce nutrient inputs to the Baltic, and that other benefits must also be considered such as nutrient recycling and soil productivity improvement. 
BONUS RETURN also selected and tested three promising ecotechnologies for nutrient and carbon reuse, with pilot plants set up and tested in Sweden, Finland and Poland. The selection process is described in a first report 28/6/2018 (press release 5/4/2018). An open “Challenge” was organised. Thirteen entries were received (not listed), from which four finalists and then from these three winners for pilot testing and pre-commercialisation support were selected. The three selected for testing are: BioPhree (Aquacare, NL, see ESPP eNews n°29), Ravita (HSY Helsinki) and Terranova Energy (Germany), both see ESPP’s SCOPE Newsletter n°132) and the fourth finalist was Carbonext, a technology for splitting biogas (methane) to produce a clean coke fuel and hydrogen gas. 
BioPhree was tested in Knivsta Stockholm at pilot container scale. No data or results from the tests are provided at this stage. 
Ravita post-precipitation recovery of iron phosphate was tested at a pilot plant at the Viikinmäki, Helsinki, municipal wastewater treatment plant (1000 p.e. scale, since 2019 see ESPP’s SCOPE Newsletter n°132). Development of recovery of phosphorus, nitrogen and iron (recycling as a coagulant) from the iron phosphate is underway. 
TerraNova was tested in Gävle, Sweden. see ESPP’s SCOPE Newsletter n°132. No data or results from the tests are provided at this stage.  
BONUS RETURN effective ecotechnologies in river basins Deliverable D.4.2. (29/2/2020) report and “Carbon and nutrient recycling ecotechnologies in three Baltic Sea river basins –the effectiveness in nutrient load reduction”, J. Koskiaho et al., 2020 Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology in print, DOI
BONUS RETURN ecotechnologies for nutrient and carbon reuse: press release 5/4/2018 and Deliverable D.3.7 (28/6/2018) report

  

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 9 2020

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews046
Download as PDF

 

EU public consultations 
EU consultation on sewage sludge 
EU consultation on Urban Waste Water Treatment 
EU consultations on agriculture policy (CAP)

Covid 
UK sewage Covid detection research

Policy 
Towards a White Paper on resource recovery from wastewaters  
Water Framework Directive to be maintained 
Global call for action on phosphorus

ESPP member news 
Kemira to market Vivimag P-recovery technology 
Nordrhein-Westfalen P-recycling plans 
Wheatsheaf Group acquires Ostara

Research and projects  
Phosphorus governance and regulation 
P-recovery from lake Sediment 
Fish bones as an Organic Farming fertiliser 
Nitrogen emissions from livestock production

Events 
IWA nutrient recovery conference 
VDI Conference on sewage sludge treatment 
Phosphorus chemistry webinar series

ESPP members

 

EU public consultations

EU consultation on sewage sludge

The European Commission has opened, to 25th August 2020, a public consultation on the ‘roadmap’ for re-evaluation of the EU Sewage Sludge Directive (86/278). This first consultation enables to input concerning the objectives of this re-evaluation, which will include a second, wide consultation on sewage sludge use in agriculture, announced for late 2020. The Commission’s proposed ‘Roadmap’ underlines that the Directive aims to encourage the use of sludge in agriculture, under safety conditions, and that nutrient recovery (citing phosphorus) should be a core objective, coherent with the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, Green Deal, Bioeconomy Strategy and Farm-to-Fork Strategy. The need to take into account “contaminants of emerging concern (e.g. organic chemicals such as pharmaceuticals, PAH and PFAS, cosmetics and microplastics)” is noted. This consultation enables to input to the definition of the Purpose and Scope of the sludge directive re-evaluation.
EU public consultation open to 25th August 2020 “Sewage sludge use in farming – evaluation” (Roadmap). Input can be as a simple text statement (max 4000 characters) and/or upload of a document. 

EU consultation on Urban Waste Water Treatment

The European Commission has opened, to 8th September 2020, a public consultation on the ‘roadmap’ for revision of the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD 1991/271). The proposed roadmap identifies as key questions: storm water overflows, inadequate treatment of wastewater from agglomerations < 2 000 p.e. (the Directives currently specifies only that treatment for such small agglomerations should be “appropriate”), inadequate treatment and monitoring for individual homes (septic tanks), contaminants of emerging concern (CEC) including pharmaceuticals and micro-plastics, eutrophication, embedding in the “clean and circular economy” (sludge management, nutrient recovery, recovery of raw materials), energy recovery, waste water surveillance for pandemic monitoring. Proposed policy objectives emphasise the importance of sewage sludge: treatment / decontamination and “subsequent use as a fertiliser, including the option of “applying extended producer responsibility”. It is specified that economic analysis will include consistent application of the polluter pays principle. 
EU public consultation open to 8th September 2020 “Water pollution – EU rules on urban wastewater treatment
(update”, Inception Impact Assessment “Revision of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive” (Roadmap). Input can be as a simple text statement (max 4000 characters) and/or upload of a document.

EU consultations on agriculture policy (CAP)

The European Commission has opened, to 22nd October 2020, three public consultations on the impacts of EU agriculture policy on water, on habitats / landscape / biodiversity and on sustainable management of soil. The objective is to assess the impacts of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy), as per the 2013 reform, which includes the obligation for farmers (condition of subsidies) to respect mandatory rules (“cross-compliance”), including both statutory management requirements (SMR) and standards of good agricultural and environmental conditions (GAEC). Additionally, there exist voluntary agri-environment-climate measures (AECM) and subsidies for farmers in areas subject to natural constraints (Natura 2000, Water Framework Directive restrictions). The consultation consists of a public questionnaire asking whether respondents consider that the CAP contributes to different environmental objectives, questions on effectiveness or unintended consequences of CAP measures. 
EU public consultations open to 22nd October 2020 on the impacts of the Common Agricultural Policy on water, on habitats, landscapes and biodiversity, and on sustainable management of soil.


Covid

UK sewage Covid detection research

Research is underway in the UK and Spain to sample wastewater in several cities, to define how sewage sampling could establish an early-warning system for identifying Covid outbreaks. he Covid-19 virus does not readily spread through sewage, but non-infectious residues of the virus can be identified. These are released even by asymptomatic infected persons, possibly enabling identification of outbreaks a week earlier than by medical testing of the population. Methods to track virus traces in wastewater are very different from medical infection testing, and are not yet standardised. The research involves Northumbrian Water and other UK water companies, CEH, Newcastle University and other UK universities, the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, government agencies and health bodies. Six testing labs are already operational across the UK. In France, testing by the Paris public water company suggests that the virus may be starting to develop again in July following the end of lockdown. Monitoring of virus traces in sewage is also developing rapidly in the USA.

Efforts to monitor Covid using sewage sampling across Europe are being coordinated by the European Commission JRC (see call in ESPP eNews n° 45) and some 80 research organisations across Europe have already responded to this call. 
BBC News 2nd July 2020 and Newcastle University 2nd July 2020. CWEA webinar California 14th July 2020.


Policy

Towards a White Paper on resource recovery from wastewaters

A web workshop organised by Water Europe (Resource Recovery Working Group), 26th June 2020, moderated by Pieter de Jong, Water Europe, launched work on a white paper on addressing regulatory obstacles to resource and nutrient recycling from wastewaters, in particular End-of-Waste. Recovered materials obtaining national End-of-Waste status currently face considerable obstacles for transport, sale and use in other EU Member States. The heterogeneity of status between countries makes roll-out of recycling technologies problematic. Mattia Pellegrini, European Commission DG Environment, indicated that a study has been carried out (to be published shortly) inventorying national Best Practices for End-of-Waste, with the aim of spreading these. A stakeholder process is planned with JRC to take this forward in consultation with stakeholders. He further underlined the current public consultation on the EU Sewage Sludge Directive (86/278), open to 28 August 2020 indicating that revision of this Directive could bring in circularity, for example by defining European End-of-Waste criteria for sewage sludge with defined quality and processing standards, in coherence with the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (which currently excludes sewage-sourced materials, although struvite and nutrients recovered from sewage sludge incineration ash should soon be admitted via STRUBIAS). Simplification of waste transport is also being considered, for example by removing the “prior consent” requirement for intra-EU waste transport for wastes respecting specified sectorial standards. Aalke Lida de Jong, AquaMinerals (The Netherlands) presented examples of the difficulties and complexities which pose obstacles to resources recycling from wastewater, citing examples of struvite and recovered cellulose. Concrete obstacles include fertiliser authorisation, End-of-Waste, transport, and permitting of industrial sites wishing to take in waste for recycling to replace virgin materials. Carmen Mena Abela, European Commission EASME, presented projects into resource recovery from wastewater funded under Horizon 2020, emphasising the policy recommendations from these projects (see ESPP eNews n°41 and see here). She noted that several major new projects on resource recycling from wastewater are now starting: Ultimate, Wider Uptake, ReWaise, B-WaterSmart,  Rewaise and Water-Mining. Chris Thornton, ESPP, underlined the opportunities of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, the difficulties of REACH (art. 2(7)d which is important to facilitate recycling, but fails to structure dossier funding) and obstacles in the Animal Feed Regulation (767/2009) which excludes even pure and reprocessed materials from wastewater. Martijn Bijmans and Francesco Fatone, Water Europe invited further cooperation, with this workshop aiming to start the preparation of a stakeholder White Paper on addressing obstacles to resource recycling from wastewater.
Water Europe Resource Recovery Working Group

Water Framework Directive to be maintained

Media report that the European Commission has decided that the Water Framework Directive will not be revised. This follows the publication in December 2019 (ESPP eNews n°39) of a REFIT assessment of the Directive concluding that it is effective and that benefits outweigh costs. The Commission has declared that it will now focus on implementing and enforcing the Directive, which is a major challenge as all Member States are considerably behind the Directive’s objectives of Good Quality Status in all surface and ground waters by 2027 at the latest. The Commission will specifically look at updating the Directive list of “Priority Substances” and at the daughter Groundwater Directive, and will integrate the Green Deal Zero Pollution Action Plan. The water industry (Eureau) has welcomed the decision, underlining the need to ensure coherence with legislation such as REACH and the Industrial Emissions Directive and the importance of the principles of the Water Framework Directive of prevention of pollution at source, and of ensuring polluter-pays and appropriate water pricing to justly finance implementation. Environmental organisations (EEB) equally welcomed the decision, underlining that to date less than half of the EU’s surface waters are in Good Quality Status and that strong action must now be engaged, with appropriate funding, to ensure that quality objectives are ensured by 2027.
“European Commission decides not to revise the WFD” Eureau 24th June 2020. “EU water law will NOT be changed, confirms European Commission” EEB 23 June 2020.

Global call for action on phosphorus

Over 500 scientists and experts have already signed the ‘Our Phosphorus Future’ call for international action on phosphorus. Since the launch of this call at 3rd European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Helsinki, 2018, some 80 authors from around the world have been working together to identify key challenges and solutions to develop a roadmap to improve global phosphorus sustainability. The Our Phosphorus Future report (currently in proof-reading) and online communications tools and related videos will be released in Autumn 2020. Aims of this initiative include to develop and communicate scientific evidence to support phosphorus stewardship, coordinate with stakeholders and engage with UN-Environment and global governance.
Sign the “Call for International Action on Phosphorus” here: www.opfglobal.com

 

ESPP member news

Kemira to market Vivimag P-recovery technology

The global chemicals company, Kemira, an ESPP Member, has acquired the technology patent of the Vivimag phosphorus recycling process, which has been developed by a consortium of partners including Wetsus, TU Delft, Outotec and EIT RawMaterials. The process (see ESPP eNews n°26) uses iron salts to precipitate phosphorus from sewage, as widely practiced today (chemical P-removal). Iron(III) phosphate then reduces to iron(II) phosphate in the anaerobic conditions of sludge digesters. The iron(II) phosphate, vivianite, is non-soluble and paramagnetic, so can be separated and recovered using magnetic separators. The vivianite can then be separated into phosphorus using alkali (pH 12), for recycling to industrial or fertiliser applications, and iron, which can be recycled back for use in sewage phosphorus removal. 
Kemira press release 22nd July 2020.

Nordrhein-Westfalen P-recycling plans

The German Phosphorus Platform, DPP, is a partner in a project with the Nordrhein-Westfalen (NRW) Land of Germany to define how phosphorus will be recovered from sewage and recycled, as required by the German Sewage Sludge Ordinance (AbfKlärV, 27th September 2017). The project will prepare summary documents presenting around ten different processes for P-recovery from sewage sludge incineration ash. It will also analyse legal questions concerning the Ordinance obligations, in particular concerning the possibility of co-incineration of sewage sludge with other phosphorus-containing wastes followed by P-recovery from the resulting ashes, and also concerning P-recovery from imported sewage sludge. Power plant operators are looking at the possibility to incinerate sewage sludge with low-ash coal, then to recover phosphorus from the resulting combined ash. Currently, 90% of sewage sludge in the NRW Land is incinerated, with the remainder valorised to farmland. Agricultural use is expected to decrease, even though it remains legally possible under the Ordinance (depending on the sewage works size and sludge P content), because of tightening pressure on agricultural spreading due to implementation of the Nitrates Directive nutrient application limits (German manure ordinance Düngeverordnung DüV of 26th May 2017).Sewage sludge incineration capacity is expected to therefore be increased, and throughput to be increased by drying of sludge. 
“Phosphorrückgewinnung in NRW” https://www.deutsche-phosphor-plattform.de/project/phosphorrueckgewinnung-in-nrw/

Wheatsheaf Group acquires Ostara

Wheatsheaf Group, the food and agriculture investment arm of the UK-based Grosvenor Estate, has acquired the world leader in struvite production technology for phosphorus recycling, Ostara (ESPP member). Wheatsheaf states as its objectives “a more holistic approach to improve yields, soil and nutrient efficiency and reduce waste … Food production cycles must be improved at every stage and … must be commercially viable” and places the Ostara acquisition in a “far-sighted perspective to deliver lasting commercial, social and environmental benefit”. It is indicated that the acquisition will support Ostara’s growing international operations and accelerate development of Ostara’s phosphorus recycling technologies( Pearl® nutrient recovery and Crystal Green® struvite fertiliser) by enabling strategic investment and access to expertise in Wheatsheaf food and agriculture portfolio companies. Monty Bayer, Executive Director of Wheatsheaf Group, said: “Ostara is a business of outstanding potential which is naturally positioned to offer solutions with significant end-user and environmental benefits in both the water management and crop nutrition environments”. 
Press release 7th July 2020.

Research and projects

Phosphorus governance and regulation

A paper from the University of Rostock, Germany, analyses links between phosphorus governance and legislation in Europe, in particular the EU Common Agricultural Policy CAP (both as existing, and the Commission 2018 proposals for CAP revision, currently under discussion), soil and water law. The authors note that proposals in the CAP revision, if adopted, could significantly contribute to improving nutrient management and reducing nutrient losses, in particular the proposed FaST (Farm Sustainability Tool for Nutrients) and references to Water Framework Directive requirements to control diffuse phosphorus losses, but they not that this may depend considerably on Member State implementation and funding allocation. The authors underline the importance of the EU Nitrates and Water Framework Directives, both of which should prevent losses of nutrients from agriculture leading to eutrophication of surface waters or nitrate contamination of groundwaters, but underline that water quality is not achieving quality objectives in many countries and compliance with these Directives is widely failing. The authors recognise the importance of the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation and of circular economy policy in facilitating phosphorus recycling, and underline that this needs also to be brought into Organic Farming regulations. Recommendations to address regulatory failures include developing EU soil conservation legislation, introducing a mandatory link between arable land and livestock production and economic tools, such as “cap and trade” (e.g. emissions trading systems).
“Sustainable phosphorus management in European agricultural and environmental law”, B.  Garske, J. Stubenrauch, F. Ekardt, University of Rostock, RECIEL. 2020; 29:107–117. https://doi.org/10.1111/reel.12318

P-recovery from lake Sediment

In Lake Kymijärvi, Finland, phosphorus recovery is tested from hypolimnetic water (that is, just above the surface of the lake bed sediments). The aim is to restore the eutrophied lake, by harvesting P naturally released from anoxic sediments, and to recycle this phosphorus. Water from the bottom of the lake is pumped through a filter then a wetland to remove suspended solids and nutrients. A 30 m3 pilot filter system has been operated intermittently during the summers of 2018 and 2019 with different filter media. Sand and calcium carbonate both achieved >70% total P removal following oxygenation of inflowing water and precipitation of iron oxide bound P. Addition of quicklime (Ca(OH)) further improves retention by stimulating calcium phosphate precipitation. The resulting calcium phosphate could be recycled to land as a fertiliser, but heavy metals from the sediments, also trapped in the filter, may be an obstacle. A paper by the same authors at the University of Helsinki, looking at nearby Lake Vesijärvi, Finland, shows that phosphorus accumulated in sediments from inadequately treated sewage in the past is being released from deep sediment layers, due to mineralisation of organic matter and dissolution of iron – manganese oxides. The released phosphorus diffuses upwards through the sediment and into the lake water, with a flux comparable to current total P inflows to the lake. This could retard lake restoration to good water quality by decades. The work demonstrates the need for long term restoration strategies aimed at reducing lake water P concentrations. 
“A new application of hypolimnetic withdrawal and treatment for lake restoration and nutrient recycling”, S. Silvonen et al., Conference: Symposium for European Freshwater Sciences 11, June 2019 
"Impacts of a deep reactive layer on sedimentary phosphorus dynamics in a boreal lake recovering from eutrophication”, T. Jilbert et al., Hydrobiologia 2020

Fish bones as an Organic Farming fertiliser

The RESTOR project, Norway, has tested fish bones and algae fibres as fertilisers or Organic Agriculture. The fish bones came from a fish processing factory (mainly cod Gadus morhua and saithe Pollachius virens), after removal of fish oil and soluble proteins which go to aquaculture feed, ground and conserved in formic acid (resulting in hydrolysis). This is a waste material currently usually incinerated. The algae fibres were residuals after liquid fertiliser extraction from knotted wrack Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed (harvested from natural growth on the Norway coast). The fish bones are rich in N (mainly in ammonium form), P and Ca. The algae fibres contain K, Mg and S. The fish bones showed good fertiliser effectiveness, for both N and P, for leeks, oats and rye grass, in various pot and field tests, with yields up to +75% higher than for control (no fertiliser) and with the nutrients showing rapid plant availability. The algae fibres showed less first-season fertiliser effectiveness, and in some cases negative effects, but positive effects the year after application. 
NORSOK project “Marine rest raw materials for fertilizers to organic agriculture (RESTOR)” and summary of results in “Harvesting our fertilisers from the sea – an approach to close the nutrient gaps in organic farming”, A-K Løes et al., OWC 2020 Paper Submission 2020.

Nitrogen emissions from livestock production

A study by authors from FAO, EU JRC, The World Bank and several R&D institutes shows that livestock production emits some 65 million tonnes of nitrogen per year to the environment, of which nearly half (29 MtN/y) to surface and ground waters and the remainder to the atmosphere (mainly ammonia 26 MtN/y, plus NOx and N2O). This is around 40% of anthropogenic nitrogen emissions to water, and 60% of ammonia emissions to air. Nearly all these emissions come from animal feed and fodder production and from manure management. Ruminants (mainly cattle, for beef and dairy) account for 70% of total emissions. The study identifies possible key areas for action, including: improving fertiliser management in Asia and North America (to make better use of manure), moving away from concentration of livestock production and geographical separation from fodder crop production in Europe, North America and Asia (again to enable better recycling of manure). However, it also concludes that reductions in livestock consumption and production will be necessary in parts of the world, in order to respect planetary boundaries for nitrogen, noting that this should be targeted to maintain diversified livestock production where it is integrated into nutrition and food systems. 
“Nitrogen emissions along global livestock supply chains”, A. Uwizeye et al., Nature Food 1, pp. 437–446 (2020)

Events

IWA nutrient recovery conference

The IWA Nutrient Removal and Recovery (NRR) virtual conference www.iwa-nrr.org online 1-3 September 2020, registration (early bird to end July) 63 – 273 €. Organised by Aalto University, Helsinki Region Environmental Services HSY and the IWA Nutrient Removal and Recovery Specialist Group. Will address removal and recovery of phosphorus, nitrogen, carbon in municipal wastewater, groundwater, natural waters, pulp and paper sector and others. The previous IWA-NRR conference was in Brisbane, Australia, in 2018  

VDI Conference on sewage sludge treatment

The annual VDI (German Association of Engineers) conference on sewage sludge, 16-17 September 2020, Hamburg, Germany (VDI-Fachkonferenz Klärschlammbehandlung), will look at implementation of the German phosphorus recycling ordonnance, in particular possibilities for sludge incineration in either smaller or large centralised installations, and routes for recovery of phosphorus, nitrogen and other materials from sewage. The Conference includes a site visit to Hamburg’s sewage sludge mono-incineration plant on 15th September Conference in German.
www.vdi-wissensforum.de/06KO006020

Phosphorus chemistry webinar series

A bi-weekly series of scientific webinars on phosphorus chemistry is running from May into August, with 20 or 40 minute presentations from phosphorus chemistry scientists or young researchers, followed by discussion. Subjects already scheduled include phosphorus-carbonyl chemistry, phosphorus heterocycles, synthesis of phosphiranes, phosphorus redox catalysis, phosphaborenes, black phosphorus … 
The P-Chemistry Webinar series is moderated by Christian Hering-Junghans (LIKAT, Rostock) and supported by AG P-Chemie" (phosphorus interest group) of the GdCh (Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker - Society of German Chemists). Schedule of webinars here:
https://phosphorus-chemistry.weebly.com/schedule.html

 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 6 2020

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews045
Download as PDF

Events 
Webinar on phosphorus and iron in wastewater, agriculture, recycling 
IWA nutrient recovery conference 
VDI Conference on sewage sludge treatment 
Phosphorus chemistry webinar series

Covid 
Coordinated sampling of sewers 

Consultations 
EU consultation open on sewage sludge 
ESPP input on calls for Farm-to-Fork and Circular Economy 
ESPP comments on “by-products” in EU fertilisers regulation (FPR)

ESPP new membe
MonGOS circular economy for water and wastewater

Agriculture 
Organic Farming: IFOAM and ESPP press for recycled phosphates 
FAO Fertiliser Code implementation 
Netherlands study on manure processing economic incentives

Nutrient recycling 
ReCaPHOS: P recovery in sewage sludge incineration 
Easymining – Hitachi Zosen potassium recovery 
LCA of P-recovery vs. mineral P fertilisers 
Reviews: nutrient recovery from organic materials

Research 
Do global nutrient balances impact human health? 
EEA: Europe’s nutrient footprints exceed safe boundaries 
Replacing P4 is still “in its infancy”

ESPP members

 

Events

Webinar on phosphorus and iron in wastewater, agriculture, recycling

This online workshop, in three 1-2 hour sessions 13-14 July, 2020, will look at how iron salts used for phosphorus removal (in sewage treatment or in drainage ditches) impacts phosphorus recycling and fertiliser value of sewage biosolids. Session themes are: Iron phosphorus interactions in natural systems and in wastewater ; Iron and phosphorus crop availability ; Iron for P-removal from aquatic systems ; and P-recovery from iron-containing waste streams. Presentations/papers will be available to participants before the event and the three web sessions will concentrate on discussion and questions, completed by an online forum. Register now
Programme and register: https://iron-phosphate.eventbrite.co.uk 

IWA nutrient recovery conference

The IWA Nutrient Removal and Recovery (NRR) virtual conference www.iwa-nrr.org online 1-3 September 2020, registration (early bird to end July) 63 – 273 €. Organised by Aalto University, Helsinki Region Environmental Services HSY and the IWA Nutrient Removal and Recovery Specialist Group. Will address removal and recovery of phosphorus, nitrogen, carbon in municipal wastewater, groundwater, natural waters, pulp and paper sector and others. The previous IWA-NRR conference was in Brisbane, Australia, in 2018  

VDI Conference on sewage sludge treatment

The annual VDI (German Association of Engineers) conference on sewage sludge, 16-17 September 2020, Hamburg, Germany (VDI-Fachkonferenz Klärschlammbehandlung), will look at implementation of the German phosphorus recycling ordonnance, in particular possibilities for sludge incineration in either smaller or large centralised installations, and routes for recovery of phosphorus, nitrogen and other materials from sewage. The Conference includes a site visit to Hamburg’s sewage sludge mono-incineration plant on 15th September Conference in German. 
www.vdi-wissensforum.de/06KO006020

Phosphorus chemistry webinar series

A bi-weekly series of scientific webinars on phosphorus chemistry is running from May into August, with 20 or 40 minute presentations from phosphorus chemistry scientists or young researchers, followed by discussion. Subjects already scheduled include phosphorus-carbonyl chemistry, phosphorus heterocycles, synthesis of phosphiranes, phosphorus redox catalysis, phosphaborenes, black phosphorus … 
The P-Chemistry Webinar series is moderated by Christian Hering-Junghans (LIKAT, Rostock) and supported by AG P-Chemie" (phosphorus interest group) of the GdCh (Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker - Society of German Chemists). Schedule of webinars here: 
https://phosphorus-chemistry.weebly.com/schedule.html

 

Covid

Coordinated sampling of sewers

The European Commission (JRC) is organising, with Eureau and Water Europe, a coordinated action across Europe to understand how Covid virus fragment monitoring in sewers can support public health information. Levels of Covid virus RNA in untreated sewage (inflow to sewage works) have been shown to reflect levels of public infection in several countries. Monitoring of sewage could maybe provide an early-warning system to identify new outbreaks of the virus. Sampling is being organised through an existing EU system at selected sewage plants. Data and methods will be coordinated to define a Covid monitoring system. Further partners wishing to join the exercise should contact rapidly JRC. 
Contact:

 

Consultations 

EU consultation open on sewage sludge

The European Commission has opened, to 25th August 2020, a public consultation on the ‘roadmap’ for re-evaluation of the EU Sewage Sludge Directive (86/278). This first consultation enables to input concerning the objectives of this re-evaluation, which will include a second, wide consultation on sewage sludge use in agriculture, announced for late 2020. The Commission’s proposed ‘Roadmap’ underlines that the Directive aims to encourage the use of sludge in agriculture, under safety conditions, and that nutrient recovery (citing phosphorus) should be a core objective, coherent with the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, Green Deal, Bioeconomy Strategy and Farm-to-Fork Strategy. The need to take into account “contaminants of emerging concern (e.g. organic chemicals such as pharmaceuticals, PAH and PFAS, cosmetics and microplastics)” is noted. This consultation enables to input to the definition of the Purpose and Scope of the sludge directive re-evaluation. 
EU public consultation open to 25th August 2020 “Sewage sludge use in farming – evaluation” (Roadmap). Input can be as a simple text statement (max 4000 characters) and/or upload of a document.

ESPP input on calls for Farm-to-Fork and Circular Economy

ESPP submitted comments on two of the eleven proposed Horizon 2020 R&D calls to support the Green Deal. For the proposed “Farm-to-Fork” call, ESPP welcomed the specific references to phosphorus and nitrogen, suggesting to add reference to recycling of nutrients and to include in the call the need to assess economic and policy barriers to sustainability of food systems, including food pricing. For the proposed call on territorial demonstration of the Circular Economy, ESPP again welcomed the specific inclusion of recycled fertilisers and suggested to better make the link between local circularity and sustainable food systems. These calls are expected to be published in September 2020 with submission deadline January 2021.
European Green Deal Call

ESPP comments on “by-products” in EU fertilisers regulation (FPR)

ESPP submitted detailed comments to the JRC proposals for a “framework” for criteria for “by-products” in CMC11 of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation. These proposals are the first step towards defining “agronomic efficiency and safety” criteria for CMC11 “By-products” by July 2020 (art. 42.7). ESPP received and integrated input from several stakeholders. ESPP noted the importance of ensuring that the same material should have the same status across Europe (not be considered a “by-product” in one Member State but a waste in another), but also that the FPR should not generate new definitions of “by-products” parallel to waste legislation. ESPP questioned the proposed “positive list” approach, in that cataloguing all relevant by-products does not seem feasible, and would require traceability contradicting fact that by-products are placed on the market. ESPP underlined that a wide range of by-products may be used in small quantities as additives, to improve processing, handling or product characteristics: listing all of these does not seem realistic, and it would be appropriate to not limit use of non-hazardous additives used at very low concentrations. 
RC report on “By-Products” under the FPR (CMC11) and ESPP submitted comments: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

ESPP new member

MonGOS circular economy for water and wastewater

The objective of the MonGOS project is to develop a circular economy monitoring framework for the European water and sewage sector. The Circular Economy is an EU political priority and poses many challenges for this sector. MonGOS will identify and assess the potential for Circular Economy transformation in the water and sewage sector, exchange good practices and transfer knowledge between leading scientific institutions in Europe, develop a framework for monitoring transformation towards the Circular Economy in the water and sewage sector, disseminate research results internationally. One of the key areas of project is an identification of circular strategies for management of sewage sludge and sewage sludge ash, which are important source of phosphorus. Specific indicators for the recovery of phosphorus will be defined and proposed. 
MonGOS (project “Monitoring of water and sewage management in the context of the implementation of circular economy objectives“ 2020-2022) is financed by the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA) under the International Academic Partnerships Programme. Website. Contact: Dr. Marzena Smol

  

Agriculture

Organic Farming: IFOAM and ESPP press for recycled phosphates

A joint letter, signed by IFOAM EU, the European umbrella organisation for organic food and farming, and by ESPP, has been sent to the European Commission requesting that struvite recovered from municipal wastewater and calcined phosphates be added to the “authorized fertilisers” annex of the EU Organic Farming Regulation 2018/848. The letter reminds that these two recycled phosphate materials were assessed by the official committee EGTOP (Expert Group for Technical Advice on Organic Production) recommending 2/2/2016 (see ESPP eNews) their authorisation for Organic Farming, under certain conditions, subject to their being authorised as EU fertilisers. This condition is now being resolved with their inclusion in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation with the STRUBIAS annexes (underway). 
IFOAM EU – ESPP joint letter 17th June 2020 June 2020 http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

FAO Fertiliser Code implementation

Nearly 500 participants from 90 countries took part in a Global Soil Partnership (GSP) webinar on 19th May to discuss implementation of the FAO’s International Code of Conduct for the Sustainable Use and Management of Fertilizers. The Code was endorsed by the 41st FAO Conference in 2019. It provides a locally adaptable framework and set of practices for stakeholders involved with fertilisers, with the objective of improving nutrient management for sustainable agriculture and food security, by addressing overuse, underuse and misuse. FAO underlined the need for countries to have national plans to implement the Code, the importance of incentives and smart subsidies for sustainable nutrient management, covering both mineral fertilisers and organic nutrient materials such as manure or sewage biosolids. The webinar confirmed interest worldwide in national implementation of the Code. 
Summary of the FAO – CSP webinar Fertiliser Code’s implementation, 19th May 2020

Netherlands study on manure processing economic incentives

A study by Wageningen UR for the Netherlands Agriculture Ministry concludes that nearly half of the nitrogen applied to farmland in the country (total 530 ktN) is as mineral fertilisers, that is around a quarter of this nitrogen could in theory be replaced by processing manure, but that costs are significant, and increase as a higher replacement target is fixed (more expensive processing becomes necessary). Only around 10% of phosphorus applied in The Netherlands is as mineral fertilisers, so the processing must enable separation of phosphorus into a form which can be exported. Replacing just 16% of The Netherlands’ mineral N consumption with processed manure is estimated to cost 360 million € (average = 4 300 €/tN note: this is not per tonne of manure). The report concludes that funding this by a levy on mineral fertilisers is not administratively feasible and that the increase in fertiliser price would be so high that it would lead to reduced agricultural productivity. The report proposes to subsidise manure processing. The report also notes that around 115 ktN of nitrogen is lost in emissions to the atmosphere from manure in The Netherlands (from a total of512 ktN in manure) and that some of this could be recovered and recycled as fertiliser by air stripping from manure storage or from stables, but that in many cases this requires significant modification of livestock farm installations. 
“Vervanging kunstmest door dierlijke mest, Verkenning van opties voor de inzet van financiële instrumenten”, (Replacement of fertiliser by animal manure, exploring options for using financial instruments), T. de Koeijer et al., Wageningen Economic Research Rapport 2019-103 | Projectcode 2282200520, 2019 https://doi.org/10.18174/504407 

 

 Nutrient recycling

ReCaPHOS: P recovery in sewage sludge incineration

A 3-year Marie Curie Individual post-doc Fellowship at ZSW (Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg), 2019-2022, ReCaPHOS ("Phosphorus extraction in the context of the high-temperature thermal treatment of sewage sludge") will develop phosphorus recovery integrated into fluidised bed sewage sludge incineration, considering both a new plant and retrofitting to an existing incinerator. The project will lead to design of a demonstration plant and estimation of economic potential. Calcium oxide (quicklime) will be used for phosphorus adsorption in the incineration process or from the outcoming ash, with heavy metal removal by thermal treatment. 
ReCaPHOS information on Cordis and ZSW www.zsw-bw.de ZSW is a member of the German Phosphorus Platform DPP

Easymining – Hitachi Zosen potassium recovery

ESPP members EasyMining (Ragn-Sells group) and Hitachi Zosen Inova have together developed a new process, Ash2Salt, to recover potassium and other elements from municipal solid waste incineration fly-ash (ash separated out in incinerator exhaust gas filters). This fly ash can contain 10 – 40% w/w as salts (calcium, sodium, potassium chlorides) and an average around 2 - 3% potassium (K). This is recovered as high purity potassium chloride salt, appropriate for industry markets. Ammonium sulphate can also be recovered (from ammonia added to exhaust gases to prevent NOx emissions). The new plant under construction near Stockholm will have a capacity of 130 000 t/y of incinerator fly ash, sufficient to take the fly ash from Sweden’s current 15 municipal waste incinerators. Commissioning is planned for 2022. 
“Ragn-Sells partners with Hitachi Zosen Inova for building circular fly ash plant”, 26th May 2020 

LCA of P-recovery vs. mineral P fertilisers

A report published by UBA Germany compares the environmental footprint of phosphorus recovery from sewage, as required by the German Sludge Ordinance (2017), to mineral phosphate fertilisers. The LCA calculates c. 27 MJ/kgP (27 MJ/kg P2O5) as the average energy input for mineral phosphate fertiliser on the German market, of which more than half is related to sulphuric acid production (this figure will thus depend on “allocation” in that sulphuric acid is a by-product). The production of 1 kgN requires 4-5x this energy, and given that plants require nearly 7x nitrogen than phosphorus (Redfield ratio), the energy footprint of mineral fertilisers is principally for nitrogen not phosphorus. Energy requirements for P-recovery are identified as varying widely depending on the process. The report suggests that the environmental footprint of all fertilisers is principally in the use phase, that heavy metal content may have significant impact (will depend on levels in the fertiliser) and also phosphogypsum disposal (but this is not relevant if disposal has no environmental impact or if the phosphogypsum is valorised). The report notes that an important environmental question is to implement NOx mitigation for sewage sludge incinerators. 
“Ökobilanzieller Vergleich der P-Rückgewinnung aus dem Abwasserstrom mit der Düngemittelproduktion aus Rohphosphaten unter Einbeziehung von Umweltfolgeschäden und deren Vermeidung” (LCA comparison of P-recovery from wastewater with fertilisers from mineral phosphates, including environmental damage and how to avoid it), F. Kraus et al., UBA-FB 002759 2019 

Reviews: nutrient recovery from organic materials

A 470 page book from Ghent University, Belgium, presents different aspects of nutrient recovery from biomass and organic waste streams. Chapters written by over 100 hundred authors discuss nutrient flows and food systems, policy, nutrient recovery from manure, wastewater, food processing by-products and urine, ammonia stripping, struvite recovery, membrane filtration, mineral concentrates, pyrolysis, digestate drying and pelletisation, agricultural performance and soil behaviour of recovered fertilisers, energy intensity of recovery processes, modelling and optimisation.

Elsewhere, a review paper from China summarises biological nutrient removal and recovery from manures. The authors state that China alone generates 2 billion tonnes/year of livestock manures, considered to contain metals (copper, zinc, arsenic), pathogens and antibiotic pharmaceuticals. Processes considered include : composting, underlining the importance of process control and the interest of using co-substrates which improve bulking (aeration in composting) and increase the C/N ratio (improving composting and reducing ammonia losses and odour); anaerobic digestion and digestate processing; biological nitrogen removal; bio(electrical processes; micro-algae production to recover nutrients and provide biofuel feedstock; duckweed; macrophyte wetlands; cation adsorbent or ion-exchange systems. The authors see as perspectives: composting of solid fraction of digestate after anaerobic digestion processes (such as sodium hydroxide) to breakdown cellulose remaining in solid fraction of digestate, development of biological cultivation processes to reuse nutrients from manure (algae, plants, solider fly …) and hybrid processing combining several of these. 
“Biorefinery of Inorganics: Recovering Mineral Nutrients from Biomass and Organic Waste”, E. Meers et al., 2020, €140-160 https://www.wiley.com/en-be/9781118921456 
“Biological nutrient removal and recovery from solid and liquid livestock manure: Recent advance and perspective”, M. Zubair et al., Bioresource Technology 301 (2020) 122823 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biortech.2020.122823

 

Research 

Do global nutrient balances impact human health?

A paper by several environmental scientists states in its title that ratios between different elements (modified by human activities) “link environment change to human health”. This is misleading, because the paper’s intent is to explore ecological stoichiometry as a framework to understand how changes in biogeochemical cycles may impact health. The paper suggests that nitrogen fertiliser use may contribute to the prevalence and severity of infectious diseases, based on Townsend 2003, whereas this is a conceptual framework, not evidence. The paper suggests that human activities may lead to excess carbon availability in soil (ESPP comment: whereas most agronomists underline the need to restore soil organic carbon), leading to reduced N:C ratios in crops (no studies are cited linking this to human health), but the paper also suggests that increasing nitrogen may lead to increased N:C ratios in crops, suggesting possible links to changes in pests on cotton and in species diversity in natural areas (no link to human health). The paper points to decreasing environmental P:N ratios. Confusion seems to be made between nutrient balances and basic healthy diets: for example, Jacka 2017 is referenced under dietary stoichiometry and mental health, whereas in fact this study (of 67 persons only) suggests only that a generally healthy diet (fruit, vegetables, fibres, vitamins …) improved mental health and does not in fact mention elements. The paper was developed through Woodstoich 4, an event designed to expand the conceptual boundaries of ecological stoichiometry. ESPP recognises that the concept of ecological stoichiometry is interesting, and that human activities have significantly modified nutrient ratios in the environment, but regrets the use of a title which suggests that there is evidence of human health impact, when this is not the object of the paper. 
“Elemental Ratios Link Environmental Change and Human Health”, R. Paseka et al., Frontiers in Ecology, vol. 7, art. 375, 2019 DOI.

EEA: Europe’s nutrient footprints exceed safe boundaries

A joint report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) finds that Europe’s footprints exceed safe limits (planetary boundaries) by a factor of 2x for phosphorus losses, 3.3x for nitrogen losses and 1.8x for and land use. Europe’s freshwater use does not exceed planetary boundary limits, but does suffer local and regional over-consumption and scarcity problems. The report considers different possible European shares of total planetary resources, not only on equity (per person) but also related to human needs, suggesting that Europe could have a 2.7% to 21% share (Europe has 8.1% of world population). The phosphorus footprint for Europe (corresponding to the biogeochemical flow of phosphorus) is in this report calculated as P release from agriculture plus P losses from urban waste water, that is c. 0.13 MtP/year (2011), using data from Exiobase. This is more than two times lower than the 2.9 MtP/y (2005) phosphorus losses from the European agrifood system calculated by Van Dijk et al. (see SCOPE Newsletter n°106 page 11) and would represent only 6% loss of phosphorus use in Europe (assuming Europe uses 10% of 17 – 24 MtP/y in worldwide phosphate rock production, see ESPP Factsheet), implying that 94% of P used annually is lost via other routes not taken into account, or is stored in landfill or soil, which seems unlikely. It is not clear whether the report methodology takes into account “exported” phosphorus footprint (e.g. phosphorus losses from agriculture in countries growing animal fodder crops imported into Europe to feed livestock). The report notes that the 2x exceedance of limits for Europe’s phosphorus footprint is the same as the global exceedance, whereas for nitrogen Europe’s footprint exceedance of 3.3x is twice the global exceedance of 1.7x. 
“Is Europe living within the limits of our planet? An assessment of Europe's environmental footprints in relation to planetary boundaries”, Joint EEA/FOEN Report, EEA Report N° 01/2020, ISSN 1977-8449 https://www.eea.europa.eu/highlights/europes-environmental-footprints-exceed-several

Replacing P4 is still “in its infancy”

An overview of possible processes concludes that “the only industrially practicable way” to produce organophosphorus chemicals is today via P4 (white phosphorus). The reactive potential of P4 [+3 oxidation state, P(III)] is conserved in traded ‘vector’ chemicals such as PCl3 or PMIDA (phosphonomethyliminodiacetic acid) which can be used to produce organophosphorus chemicals for sectors such as fire safety, agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, water treatment, lubricants, catalysts, metal extraction … However, P4 production requires a high-temperature reduction furnace and is very energy consuming, and there is no production today in Europe (P4 is on the EU Critical Raw Materials list). Other possible routes to organophosphorus chemicals from inorganic phosphates [+5 oxidation state, P(V)] have been tested at the lab scale: phosphate esters from phosphoric acid by phosphorylation of alcohols; reduction of trimetaphosphate by trichlorosilane (but this is currently produced from silicon, itself from a reducing furnace, so with similar energy costs to P4); PCl3 from calcium phosphate by hydrogen chloride. Another route could be recycling of industrial chemicals already containing reactive phosphorus, such as electrolytes from lithium ion batteries. In nature, inorganic phosphate is biologically converted to organophosphorus chemicals (e.g. ATP, natural phosphonates …) via the starting molecule PEP. At present, PEP can be produced via P4, but could possible be produced using enzymes. The authors also suggest that P4 could possibly be produced by electrochemical reduction, analogous to an experimental route for silicon production. 
“Let’s Make White Phosphorus Obsolete”, M. Geeson & C. Cummins, ACS Central Science 2020 https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acscentsci.0c00332

  

ESPP members

espp members 26062020 

 

 

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews044
Download as PDF

Events
Webinar on iron phosphate chemistry applied to phosphorus stewardship
Environmental efficiency of wastewater treatment plant configurations
Postponement ESPC4 and PERM 31st May – 2nd June 2021
Rescheduling ... RAMIRAN 2020, Systemic, ESNI

Consultations for your input
Urgent: Consultation open on R&D to support the Green Deal
Urgent: Input requested for by-products in EU Fertilising Products Regulation
ESPP, SuMaNu, Water Europe input on Circular Economy Action Plan 
Input your ideas for a European nutrient strategy 

EU Farm to Fork Strategy
EU Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan 

Industry news
Prayon acquires Ecophos process technology 

Research and demonstration 
FERTIMANURE now online 
WATER MINING P-recovery from iron
REPARES project launched: antibiotic resistance
NITROMAN
Polyphosphate biology and methane 

ESPP members 

 

Events

Webinar on iron phosphate chemistry applied to phosphorus stewardship

This workshop remains fixed 13-14 July, 2020, but the schedule and event design is completely revised for webinar. Presentations/papers will be available to participants before the event and the three web sessions will concentrate on discussion and questions, completed by an online forum. Themes are: Iron phosphorus interactions in natural systems and in wastewater, iron and phosphorus crop availability, iron for P-removal from aquatic systems and P-recovery from iron-containing waste streams. Register now: limited to 100 participants.
Programme and register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/iron-phosphate-chemistry-applied-to-phosphorus-stewardship-and-p-recovery-tickets-96759011809

Environmental efficiency of wastewater treatment plant configurations

Kemira webinar, 16th June 14h00 CET. Presentation and discussion of a new study by IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute comparing three different wastewater treatment plant configurations: pre-precipitation, simultaneous precipitation, and biological phosphorus removal. Differences in environmental efficiency in terms of carbon footprint, energy balance, impacts of stricter effluent limits.
Kemira and members of INCOPA (European Inorganic Coagulants Producers Association) have contributed to this study. Link for registration or to receive the webinar recording afterwards: REGISTER

Postponement ESPC4 and PERM to 31st May – 2nd June 2021

Given the development of the international corona virus situation, and after re-discussion with the venue hotel and the Belvedere Palace, Vienna, we have decided to postpone ESPC4 and PERM (4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference and European Phosphorus Research Meeting) from June 2020 to Vienna 31st May – 2nd June 2021 https://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

Rescheduling ... RAMIRAN 2020, Systemic, ESNI

The manure and organic resources recycling conference, RAMIRAN, is rescheduled (provisionally) to 20-23 September 2021, Cambridge, UK.The SYSTEMIC workshop on nutrient recovery from anaerobic digestion and ESNI (European Sustainable Nutrient Initiative) are rescheduled to 26 – 27 October 2020, Brussels
Ramiran: www.ramiran2020.org
ESNI and SYSTEMIC workshop on Eventbrite

Consultations for your input 
Urgent: Consultation open on R&D to support the Green Deal

The European Commission has a public consultation open to 3rd June on content of research funding calls to support the EU Green Deal. Of the eleven call areas, two particularly concern phosphorus and nutrient stewardship: Call area 3 = “Industry for a clean and circular economy (Demonstration of systemic solutions for the territorial deployment of the circular economy)” and 6 = “Farm to Fork”. ESPP welcomes that the circular economy proposed call includes “organic and waste-based fertilisers” in the sectors to be covered. ESPP welcomes that the Farm-to-Fork proposed call refers to fertilisers and nutrients (improving nutrient efficiency and reducing nutrient losses). Individuals and stakeholders can submit feedback supporting these calls by completing the very short questionnaires (2 questions plus optional comments) for these two call areas at the link below.
EU Green Deal Call consultation, open to 3rd June https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/strategy/european-green-deal/call_en
  

Urgent: Input requested for by-products in EU Fertilising Products Regulation

The European Commission (JRC) has circulated for comment a first report (available here) proposing a list of by-products for acceptance in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (CMC11) and outlining possible methodology for safety and agronomic criteria for by-products use as fertilising products. The report includes tables of by-products proposed for probable acceptance or exclusion (Tables 2 – 4, pages 29 – 37), specifying the by-product material, the process / industry from which it could be accepted and possible contaminant risks. The report also poses seven questions to stakeholders and experts (page 42) concerning the proposed “directional framework”, information to consider and contaminants in by-products. In particular, input is requested on by-products not yet included in the tables and information is requested on the industries, process and chemicals used to produce the by-products already listed. Input must be made via members of the EU Fertilisers Expert Group (ESPP is a member) before 4th June, so please send any comments and input to ESPP before 4th June deadline.
“Technical proposals for by-products as component materials for EU Fertilising Products. Background document.” European Commission JRC, 24th April 2020 (42 pages) available hereComments to by latest 4th June.
 

ESPP, SuMaNu, Water Europe input on Circular Economy Action Pla

ESPP input directly to the Committee of Regions consultation on the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP, see ESPP eNews n°43), emphasising the role of local and regional authorities in delivering the circular economy, need for changes in the economic and fiscal framework to make nutrient recycling “competitive”, need to address regulatory obstacles to recycling of wastes, importance of setting recycling targets in EU water policy and potential for job creation of the nutrient circular economy. ESPP also contributed to a detailed joint position with Water Europe (the water RTD network) on the proposed Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP), included in this new EU Circular Economy strategy proposal (INMAP is also included in the EU’s now-published Farm-to-Fork Strategy, see below). SuMaNu, the EU territorial cooperation project on manure and nutrients in the Baltic Sea Region, also submitted to the consultation, making some similar points to ESPP, welcoming references to planetary boundaries and SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and underlining that “There is no waste, there are just resources”.
European Committee of Regions Stakeholder Consultation "New Circular Economy Action Plan" https://cor.europa.eu/en/events/Pages/New- Circular-Economy-Action-Plan.aspx 
SuMaNu input: https://balticsumanu.eu/input-to-eu-circular-economy-action-plan/
 

Input your ideas for a European nutrient strategy

As indicated below, the European Commission has announced that it will prepare an Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP). ESPP is working on concerted proposals for the objectives, content and mechanisms of such an Action Plan. A first draft, developed with Water Europe is online here, and your input and comments are invited. Please send us your ideas and comments, in order to enrich a structured and concerted submission to the European Commission.
Document online – send us your input by 30th June 2020 http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

EU Farm to Fork Strategy

EU Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan

The European Commission has published its “Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system”. Two of the six headline objectives of the Strategy concern nutrient stewardship: reduce nutrient losses by at least 50% by 2030, while ensuring no deterioration on soil fertility and reduce fertilizer use by at least 20% by 2030. The first of these objectives was proposed to the European Commission by ESPP in 2018. The Commission webpage underlines that “The excess of nutrients in the environment is a major source of air, soil and water pollution, negatively impacting biodiversity and climate”. The Farm-to-Fork Strategy confirms the development of an EU “Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan” (INMAP) as already included in the revised Circular Economy Action Plan proposals (see ESPP eNews n°43). This will “address nutrient pollution at source and increase the sustainability of the livestock sector ... extend the application of precise fertilisation techniques and sustainable agricultural practices ... and of recycling of organic waste into renewable fertilisers”, including via the FaST tool (Farm Sustainability Tool for Nutrients) in the new CAP (see ESPP eNews n°25 and n°31). The Strategy notes the need for “managing nitrogen and phosphorus better throughout their lifecycle” and makes the link between reducing food waste and recovery of nutrients. Other key aspects of the Farm-to-Fork Strategy include facilitating a shift towards healthy and sustainable diets: “moving to a more plant-based diet with less red and processed meat and with more fruits and vegetables”. Proposed actions include: “preventing advertising meat at low prices”, nutrient profiles for foods (2022), mandatory nutrition labelling for food products (2022), setting of maximum levels for certain nutrients in processed foods (2021), revision of the animal feed regulation (2021), mandatory criteria for sustainable food procurement (2021), sustainable food labelling framework (2024) and tax incentives.
EU Farm-to-Fork Strategy, COM(2020)381, 20th May 2020
EU new Circular Economy Action Plan, COM(2020)98, 11th March 2020
 

Industry news

Prayon acquires Ecophos process technology 

Prayon (ESPP member) has announced its acquisition of the intellectual property, including patents portfolio and process know-how of Ecophos s.a. which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. The acquisition includes the semi-industrial demonstration plant of Technophos JSCo based in Varna, Bulgaria (see ESPP Scope Newsletter n°120). Marc Collin, CTO of Prayon stated: “Prayon is very happy to announce this acquisition since it fits perfectly with our strategy. The process portfolio proposed by Ecophos is complementary to that offered by Prayon through its licensing division. We will continue to promote them in parallel as they have their own particular specificities. It is also an important step towards our goal to become an important actor of the circular economy”.
Prayon press release 6th May 2020.
 

Research and demonstration

FERTIMANURE now online 

The website of ESPP member project FERTIMANURE is now online (Innovative nutrient recovery from secondary sources: production of high-added value FERTilisers from animal MANURE, see ESPP eNews n°41). The website outlines the project’s objective of processing manure to novel fertilisers which match crop requirements, are homogeneous, predictable and reliable and safe, ensure a high Nutrient Use Efficiency (NUE), and are cost-effective and easy to apply. The project will develop on-farm production of bio-based fertilisers, on-farm customisation of these to specific crop needs by combination with mineral nutrients and demonstrate their application and use.
FERTIMANURE (Horizon 2020) https://www.fertimanure.eu/en/the-project-s-response
 

WATER MINING P-recovery from iron

The Horizon 2020 “Water Mining” project, starting in September 2020, includes WETSUS development of iron oxide (FeO) adsorbents to achieve very low levels of phosphorus discharge in sewage works and of vivianite crystallisation. This ferrous oxide adsorbent technology won stages 1 and 2 of the Everglades Foundation George Barley Prize* (see ESPP eNews n°29) and the new EU project will enable development of phosphorus recovery and regeneration of the ferrous oxide adsorbent. Vivianite crystallisation enables the use of iron salts for chemical P-removal to iron phosphates in a form which can be more readily recovered, see Scope Newsletter n°133 and ESPP eNews n°26. These technologies will be demonstrated on waste water treatment plants in Cyprus and in Barcelona.
* To our understanding, the Everglades Foundation George Barley Prize never delivered the 10 million dollar “prize” promised, because the conditions fixed by the organisers for building the demonstration plant for the final stage of the prize were refused because unrealistic by all candidates concerned. The prize website is no longer online
Water Mining is led by Delft Technical University.
ESPP webinar on iron phosphate chemistry, 13-14 July 2020, register here.

REPARES project launched: antibiotic resistance

The Horizon 2020 ‘Twinning’ project REPARES (Research platform on antibiotic resistance spread through wastewater treatment plants) intends to investigate to what extent sewage treatment systems may spread antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) or antibiotic resistance genes (ABG) in the environment, and to engage with researchers and stakeholders to disseminate information. The project is coordinated by UCT Prague, with TU Delft, Aalborg University, Catholic University of Porto and WETSUS.
REPARES: http://repares.vscht.cz/
 

NITROMAN 

This project will demonstrate two technologies for processing the liquid fraction (after solid-liquid separation) of digested or raw pig or cattle manure: stripper-scrubbing (using steam or air), to remove nitrogen and recover ammonia salt solution; reverse osmosis membrane to generate a “mineral concentrate”. The project will include pilot-scale installations of the two technologies on farms, and field testing of the resulting products, both for demonstration to farmers, and to assess crop nitrogen uptake and nitrogen leaching losses, as well as LCA (life cycle analysis) assessments.
NITROMAN https://www.vcm-mestverwerking.be/en/faq/21214/nitroman and https://www.facebook.com/NITROMANproject
 

Polyphosphate biology and methane

Polyphosphate accumulation in bacteria has been widely studied, and is the mechanism which enable “bio-P” biological phosphorus removal in sewage works (in aerobic conditions). A study shows that Archaea micro-organisms can accumulate polyphosphates in anaerobic conditions. Archaea are one of the three domains of micro-organisms: Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryota. They are often found in extreme conditions, such as high temperatures, salty or alkaline waters. This study concerns Methanoscarina, a genus of Archaea which produce methane and may have been responsible for one of earth’s great extinctions, the Permian-Triassic event, by converting marine carbon sediments to methane. This study showed that Methanoscari could accumulate cellular polyphosphates, in anaerobic conditions, when first deprived of phosphate for three days, then given high phosphate. Methane production by the micro-organisms continued in all conditions. After six days, the Methanoscari accumulated 0.22 mg P-polyphosphate per g of protein. The authors suggest that this may have implications for links between global phosphorus cycling and atmospheric methane emissions, and may also provide a possible route to combine P-removal with biogas production in sewage treatment.
“The potential for polyphosphate metabolism in Archaea and anaerobic polyphosphate formation in Methanosarcina mazei”, F. Paula et al., Nature Scientific Reports (2019) 9:17101

ESPP Members

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

 
 
Events
Workshop on iron phosphate chemistry applied to phosphorus stewardship
Postponement ESPC4 and PERM à 31st May – 2nd June 2021
Rescheduling … RAMIRAN 2020, Systemic, ESNI

Covid 19
French safety agency opinion on Covid risk in sewage sludge
FAO expert group: coming months critical for global food supply

Public consultation and calls
Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan
Call for input: Nutrient technologies and climate change
2020 BBI JU call for proposals open

New ESPP member
Prosumer feasibility study of P-recovery in Italy
Communications
BBC features phosphorus recovery
Two new books on phosphorus

Atmospheric phosphorus deposition
Nutrient inputs to the Mediterranean
Global P flows from atmospheric deposition

ESPP members
 
 
 

Events

Workshop on iron phosphate chemistry applied to phosphorus stewardship

This workshop remains fixed 13-14 July, 2020 either with a physical meeting in Utrecht, the Netherlands, or by webinar (in which case the programme will be organised differently). So: save the date! Themes will cover: Iron phosphorus interactions in sediments, in soils and engineered systems, Strategies for phosphorus release and P-recovery from iron phosphates, Iron - phosphate interactions in agriculture and Markets for recovered iron phosphate materials.

Contact:  Registration: here.

 

Postponement ESPC4 and PERM  31st May – 2nd June 2021

Given the development of the international corona virus situation, and after re-discussion with the venue hotel and the Belvedere Palace, Vienna, we have decided to postpone ESPC4 and PERM (4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference and European Phosphorus Research Meeting) from June 2020 to Vienna 31st May – 2nd June 2021

https://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Rescheduling … RAMIRAN 2020, Systemic, ESNI

The manure and organic resources recycling conference, RAMIRAN, is rescheduled (provisionally) to 20-23 September 2021, Cambridge, UK.
The SYSTEMIC workshop on nutrient recovery from anaerobic digestion and ESNI (European Sustainable Nutrient Initiative) are rescheduled to 26 – 27 October 2020, Brussels

Ramiran: www.ramiran2020.org

ESNI and SYSTEMIC workshop on Eventbrite

Covid 19

French safety agency opinion on Covid risk in sewage sludge

ANSES, the French national agency for health, food and environment safety, has issued an opinion on the risks of Covid19 in sewage sludge. This confirms the WHO statement that there is no evidence of survival of viable (infectious) Covid19 in sewage. ANSES concludes that systems already considered as ensuring sanitisation of sewage sludge under current regulations will largely remove possible Covid risk. 70% of France’s sewage sludge is used in agriculture, and this is mostly sanitised before spreading. ANSES recommends that monitoring of this sanitisation be reinforced. A small amount of sludge from smaller sewage works is currently spread without sanitisation. ANSES recommends that this sludge be incinerated or treated during the Covid pandemic.

ANSES Opinion 27th March 2020

 

FAO expert group: coming months critical for global food supply

The FAO CWFS (Committee on World Food Security) High Level Panel of Experts has issues a preliminary paper on possible impacts of Covid-19 on food security and nutrition. The Committee expects that the most affected will be the poor and vulnerable, especially migrants, conflict regions. Impacts will be from disruption of food processing and distribution chains, from the expected world economic slowdown and resulting unemployment, and in the medium term from losses in production if farmers to not have access to inputs for this Spring (Northern hemisphere) planting season. Another problem worldwide is workforce shortages on farms because of restrictions to workers’ movements. The experts note that although there are no significant issues with food supply at present, disruption of transport systems and workforces in coming months will be critical for future food supply because this is when most of the world’s food production takes place.

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), 24th March 2020:  “Interim Issues Paper on the Impact of COVID-19 on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN) by the High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and nutrition (HLPE)” paper,


 

Public consultation and calls

Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan

The EU Committee of Regions (CoR) has opened a public stakeholder consultation to 1st May on input to the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan. This Plan includes as proposed actions to “develop an Integrated Nutrient Management Plan with a view to ensuring more sustainable application of nutrients and stimulating the markets for recovered nutrients”. ESPP will input to this CoR consultation underlining our support for this proposed Integrated Nutrient Management Plan and the interest to link to the proposal in Horizon Europe Orientations Orientations to develop  “comprehensive EU policy to balance nutrient cycles … move to living within the planetary boundaries, with regards to nutrient flows”. ESPP will underline in particular the need to work with the food & beverage industry to address dietary choices, the key driver for nutrient use, to support agricultural nutrient stewardship and nutrient recycling, including with fiscal and market tools and with nutrient recycling demonstration sites, and to address contaminants in secondary nutrient flows (sewage sludge, manure).

EU Assembly of Regional and Local Representatives, Written Stakeholder Consultation "New Circular Economy Action Plan" consultation open to 1st May 2020

 
 

Call for input: Nutrient technologies and climate change

ESPP (European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform) and SPA (Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance, America) are preparing several special issues of SCOPE Newsletter relating eutrophication, nutrient management and climate change. Circulation: 41000 emails worldwide, detected openings 11 – 14%. Issues will cover: eutrophication and methane emissions, climate change impacts on nutrient runoff, climate change and diet nutrition, and links between nutrient technologies and climate change.
We will include a selection of texts showing how products or technologies for nutrient recycling or eutrophication abatement can reduce greenhouse gas emissions or contribute to climate change mitigation. For example:

  • greenhouse gas LCA analysis of nutrient recycling process
  • technologies to mitigate impacts of nutrients and climate change on eutrophication
  • addressing greenhouse gas emissions of fertiliser production
  • reducing climate change impacts of nutrient use and management in agriculture

To include your technology, send us a text, by 15th May latest to

  • Preference will be given to texts supported by data and/or references
  • Links must be made to climate change
  • Maximum 400 words plus 1-2 photos
  • photos must be free of rights for web publication
  • selection of texts by ESPP and SPA is final. We may propose to you to revise your text.

 

2020 BBI JU call for proposals open

The 2020 Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking call for proposals is open until 3 September. The call constitutes €102 million worth of funding for projects focusing on the upgrading and valorisation of biomass. The budget is divided between five Research and Innovation Actions (RIA), seven Innovation Actions (split between Demonstration Actions (DEMO) and Flagship Actions (FLAG)) and four Coordination and Support Actions (CSA), including €15 dedicated to FLAG projects under the topic of valorisation of organic fraction municipal solids waste through integrated biorefineries at commercial level.

https://www.bbi-europe.eu/news/over-%E2%82%AC100-million-available-advancing-european-bio-based-sector


 

New ESPP member

Prosumer feasibility study of P-recovery in Italy

Wastes from slaughterhouses and food processing industries are the third ‘waste stream’ containing phosphorus (P) in Europe, offering potential to recover and recycle phosphorus to fertilisers. Italy and particularly Emilia-Romagna Region have thousands of companies in this sector. The Prosumer project will assess and develop business models for the techno-economic feasibility of P recovery from waste streams in the Italian agri-food sector and its reuse in fertilizers. The project is coordinated by the University of Bologna with the support of Marche Polytechnic University and involves Italian companies in the agri-food sector (Pizzoli, Granarolo, Caviro Extra) and in fertiliser production (Puccioni) who will provide data for the model. The expected results, fitting with several ESPP objectives, include to (i) increase awareness about phosphorus and disseminate information; (ii) evaluate business risks and opportunities (iii) deliver decision support tools for financial instruments and regulatory framework.

Prosumer project: Techno-economic and environmental feasibility study of Phosphorus recovery and reuse in fertilizers applied to Italian Prosumers (producers and consumers of P). funded by EIT Climate-KIC (project n. 200103, 2020). Contact: Jessica Rossi


 

Communications

BBC features phosphorus recovery

BBC’s “People Fixing the World” has featured Ostara, recovering phosphorus as struvite, and SNB, incinerating sewage sludge and looking to recover phosphorus. A 3 minute BBC video provides an excellent summary of why phosphorus is important, and how struvite is recovered by Ostara at Amersfoort, The Netherlands, to produce a high quality fertiliser adapted to plant needs (non water soluble, so low leaching). SNB explain that sewage sludge ash is recycled in construction, but that they hope to develop P-recovery upstream of this end-use. A 30 minute podcast explains the importance of phosphorus, from its discovery to today, its different uses of phosphorus, the impacts of phosphorus losses and the need to develop the circular economy for phosphorus.

BBC News video, “People fixing the planet”, 3 minutes, 30th March 2020 and BBC World Service podcast, 30 minutes (sound), “The treasure in our toilet”, interviews of Robert Van Springelen, Ostara, and Silvester Bombeeck, SNB. Summary here.

 

Two new books on phosphorus

A 150 page new book by Alexandra Drizo presents an update of approaches and technologies for phosphorus removal and recovery, covering phosphorus management in sewage, agriculture and in lakes, including summaries of regulation for phosphorus removal and recovery The book covers: the challenges of eutrophication are summarised, water quality legislation, regulation of innovative phosphorus removal technologies and of phosphorus recycling, methods and technologies for removal of phosphorus from sewage, actions for mitigation of agricultural and stormwater phosphorus runoff, in-lake phosphorus treatment and phosphorus recovery and recycling technologies.
A 460 page book edited by Alan Steinman and Bryan Spears, with 24 chapters and 17 case studies, by over 60 experts worldwide, looks at “internal loading” of phosphorus to lakes and coastal lagoons, that is release of phosphorus from bottom sediments. It is feared that climate change will increase sediment P releases, because warming may lead to longer periods of stratification (periods where deep and shallow water layers do not mix) resulting in anoxia (no oxygen) conditions in sediments, and to increased decomposition of organic matter in sediments. The book analyses drivers of sediment phosphorus release and uptake, measurement techniques, management approaches including in-lake treatment techniques.

“Phosphorus Pollution Control: Policies and Strategies”, A. Drizo, 2020, ISBN: 978-1-118-82548-8

“Internal Phosphorus Loading in Lakes. Causes, Case Studies, and Management”, A. Steinman & B. Spears, January 2020, ISBN 978-1-60427-144-7



 

 

Atmospheric phosphorus deposition

Nutrient inputs to the Mediterranean

Malagó et al. have estimated total nutrient inputs to the Mediterranean at 1 900 ktN-total/year and 100 ktP-total/year phosphorus, based on modelling nutrient inputs from diffuse sources (i.e. mineral fertilisers and manure) and point sources (i.e. human settlements connected to sewers and industrial discharge). They used readily available global data and determined the relative importance of different sources identifying hotspot areas of higher pollution. The main contributor to nitrogen is agriculture, whereas for phosphorus the biggest sources are wastewater, soil erosion, and agriculture. However, the main source for soluble phosphorus (30 ktP-ortho/year) is wastewater.
Kanakidou et al. estimated, using modelling, atmospheric deposition to the Mediterranean at around 60 tP-soluble/year, (initial model result 4.3 ktP-soluble/year, multiplied by x14 for re-correlation), compared to 125 ktP-total/year from rivers and coastal cities. For nitrogen, these authors estimate atmospheric inputs at 1 281 ktN/y compared to around 1 360 ktN/y from rivers and cities, (for nitrogen, the model estimate corresponds approximately to other data without re-correlation).
In another paper, Violaki et al. estimate atmospheric deposition of soluble phosphorus (in rainwater and in dry deposition), based on sampling at two sites for 2 – 7 years. They conclude that total dissolved phosphorus from deposition, based on the sites with the higher results, is up to 2.2 mmolP/m2/year in the West Mediterranean and 1.5 mmolP/m2/year for the East that is c.140 ktP-soluble/year for the 2.5 million km2 of the whole Mediterranean. This is coherent with Koçak 2010 who estimated that, for the Eastern Mediterranean (Turkish coast), soluble phosphorus and soluble nitrogen DIN inputs were dominated by atmospheric deposition, whereas silicon input was dominate by river inflows.
Violaki et al. estimate that the atmospheric deposition might cause up to 7% of algal production in the North West Mediterranean, and up to 38% in oligotrophic areas of the East Mediterranean during stratified periods. Thus, the atmospheric P deposition may make some contribution to CO2 uptake at times the Mediterranean.

“Modelling nutrient fluxes into the Mediterranean Sea”, A. Malagó et al., Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies 22 (2019) 100592, DOI

“Organic phosphorus in atmospheric deposition over the Mediterranean Sea: An important missing piece of the phosphorus cycle” ,K; Violaki et al.,  Progress in Oceanography 163 (2018) 50–58, DOI

“Atmospheric inputs of nutrients to the Mediterranean Sea”, M. Kanakidou, et al., Deep-Sea Research Part II 171 (2020) 104606

“Atmospheric nutrient inputs to the northern levantine basin from a long-term observation: sources and comparison with riverine inputs”, M. Koçak et al., Biogeosciences, 7, 4037–4050, 2010 DOI

“Modeling the impacts of atmospheric deposition of nitrogen and desert dust–derived phosphorus on nutrients and biological budgets of the Mediterranean Sea”, C. Richon et al., 2017 Prog. Oceanogr Volume 163, April 2018, Pages 21-39

 

Global P flows from atmospheric deposition

For comparison to the above studies for the Mediterranean, Tipping (CEH UK) et al, 2014, collated data on atmospheric phosphorus deposition at c. 250 sites worldwide (with a recognised bias of >80% of sites in Europe and North America). They found a geometric mean deposition of 0.14 gTP/m2/year (total phosphorus), of which around 40% on average is soluble P and a further 20% is non filterable P (with significant variations between sites), that is around 60% of TP deposition is relatively available. This corresponds to a total global atmospheric deposition of around 3.7 MtP/y. For comparison: annual world beneficiated phosphate rock production is 17 – 24 MtP/y (see: ESPP Factsheet). Most of this atmospheric deposition is considered to come from natural sources, in particular dusts, especially from the Sahara, and also from pollen and other biogenic organic materials. Anthropogenic sources include burning of fossil fuels. Data showed considerable variation between sites, and at sites between years. The authors note that atmospheric deposition from fertiliser application can be significant locally, and may impact sensitive ecosystems near farmland, noting that this question requires further research, whereas long-range transport, which is important for oceans, is mainly from dust.

“Atmospheric deposition of phosphorus to land and freshwater”, E. Tippng et al., Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2014, 16, 1608

 

 

ESPP members

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews042
Download as PDF

ESPP is making a comeback on social media. After a year of minimum activity, ESPP is now reactivating the presence
on Twitter https://twitter.com/phosphorusfacts. We are also launching a new LinkedIn page https://www.linkedin.com/company/european-sustainable-phorphorus-platform/ Please follow us there.
The existing ESPP LinkedIn group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4783093/ will be kept as a forum for the moment.
Looking forward to seeing you online. 


Postponement ESPC4 and PERM  ->  31st May - 2nd June 2021
Given the development of the international corona virus situation, and after re-discussion with the venue hotel and the Belvedere Palace, Vienna, we have decided to postpone ESPC4 and PERM (4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference and European Phosphorus Research Meeting) from June 2020 to Vienna 31st May - 2nd June 2021


Public consultations
EU Industrial Emissions Directive (BAT BREFs)
EU aquaculture policy
Events
Postponement ESPC4 and PERM -> 31st May – 2nd June 2021
Workshop on iron phosphate chemistry applied to phosphorus stewardship
RAMIRAN 2020, Systemic, ESNI
Corona virus
COVID and sewage
Fertiliser industries working to feed the world
Policy
EU new Circular Economy Action Plan
Global fertiliser industry “committed to reducing P losses”
Prosumer cross-KIC meeting on perspectives for P-recovery
Call for 80% cut in meat eating
Science and research
National and global phosphorus footprints
Lack of data on global phosphorus cycles
AshDec P-recovery process new test data
Baltic region nutrient flows and management perspectives
Lessons from Asia’s nutrient footprints
Insect frass showed to be a good fertiliser
Nitrification inhibitor improves P uptake and yield
UBA report on pharmaceuticals in recycled phosphates
Erratum

 

Public consultations

EU Industrial Emissions Directive (BAT BREFs)

A public consultation is open to 21st April on the “Inception Impact Assessment” for the EU Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), which defines Best Available Technology (BAT BREFs), which are legally applicable to all installations in concerned industrial sectors across Europe. The roadmap suggests widening the scope of the IED to include cattle farms, “mixed farms” and aquaculture. ESPP supports this, because it is coherent with the inclusion already today of large pig and poultry farms. ESPP welcomes a proposed accent on Circular Economy. ESPP also proposes to streamline the BREF process, which today generates documents hundreds of pages long. The BAT specifications, which are relatively short and are legally constraining, could continue to be defined by the formal consultation and adoption process, but the examples and innovation texts, which are illustrative, could be more informal and so more frequently updated.

EU public consultation on the inception impact assessment for the Industrial Emissions Directive. Deadline = 21st April 2020  https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12306-EU-rules-on-industrial-emissions-revision  

 

EU aquaculture policy

A public consultation is open to 21st April on the Roadmap for “Updated Guidelines” for the EU aquaculture. ESPP welcomes the reference to the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy. ESPP will input underlining the importance of improving the nutrient efficiency of aquaculture feed, including use of local crops or by-products, better uptake of plant forms of phosphorus in fish (especially salmon) and nutrient footprints, making the link to the nutrient strategy proposed in Horizon Europe. ESPP also underlines the need to reduce nutrient losses from both offshore and fresh water aquaculture, and to develop nutrient recycling, including integrating fish manure into the EU Fertilising Products Regulation

EU public consultation on EU fish farms (aquaculture) – updated guidelines.. Deadline = 21st April 2020 https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12261-Strategic-Guidelines-for-EU-aquaculture-update

 

Events

Postponement ESPC4 and PERM  ->  31st May - 2nd June 2021

Given the development of the international corona virus situation, and after re-discussion with the venue hotel and the Belvedere Palace, Vienna, we have decided to postpone ESPC4 and PERM (4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference and European Phosphorus Research Meeting) from June 2020 to Vienna 31st May - 2nd June 2021

https://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Workshop on iron phosphate chemistry applied to phosphorus stewardship

This workshop remains fixed 13-14 July, 2020 either with a physical meeting in Utrecht, the Netherlands, or by webinar (in which case the programme will be organised differently). So: save the date! Themes will cover: Iron phosphorus interactions in sediments, in soils and engineered systems, Strategies for phosphorus release and P-recovery from iron phosphates, Iron - phosphate interactions in agriculture and Markets for recovered iron phosphate materials.

Contact:
Registration: here.

 

RAMIRAN 2020, Systemic, ESNI

The manure and organic resources recycling conference, RAMIRAN, remains fixed 14-17 September 2020, Cambridge, UK. The SYSTEMIC workshop on nutrient recovery from anaerobic digestion and ESNI (European Sustainable Nutrient Initiative) are rescheduled to 26 – 27 October 2020, Brussels

Ramiran: www.ramiran2020.org

ESNI and SYSTEMIC workshop on Eventbrite

Corona virus

COVID and sewage

Researchers at KWR Netherlands have found gene fragments of the Covid-19 virus in wastewater entering a sewage works, with repeated tests confirming the results. The virus gene fragments were not detected in the sewage works effluent (treated water), but only one site was tested, and sewage sludge was not tested. Although the tests do not discriminate between potentially active virus and inactive fragments, it is underlined that the results do not indicate that Covid-19 infection is possible from sewage. Workers in contact with wastewater should in any case use protective equipment, because of other health and safety risks in handling wastewater, and the water industry underlines that this should be reinforced. The World Health Organisation briefing on Covid-19 in water and sewage (19th March) can be summarised as follows: there is no proof for this the Covid-19 virus, but it has a fragile outer membrane and is likely to be more rapidly inactivated in sewage than other viruses which have been shown to survive for days to weeks in water or sewage (e.g. gastroenteritis, hepatitis).  A new paper in Nature (published 1/4/20) found high virus RNA concentrations in faeces of nine Covid-19 patients, but no infectious virus in faeces, in urine nor in blood. The study concludes that there were indications of viral replication in the gut and that the absence of detected viable virus in faeces may be because the nine patients were mild cases, and none had diarrhoea (which occurs in maybe 2% of Covid-19 cases).

KWR press release “What we learn about the Corona virus through waste water research“ 24th March 2020

KWR Webinar “COVID-19: Significance and impact of the pandemic for the water sector”

WHO “Water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management for the COVID-19 virus, Interim guidance” 19th March 2020

“Virological assessment of hospitalized patients with COVID-2019”, R. Wölfel et al., Nature, 1 April 2020

Fertiliser industries working to feed the world

The fertilisers industry is committed to continue to supply farmers, in order to maintain the world food supply. Fertilizers Europe states its commitment to continuing to deliver nutrients to farmers, in the crucial spring period when fertilisers are needed. The industry thanks the European Commission for citing agricultural production inputs as goods for which continuation of flow should be ensured in border management. IFA (International Fertilizers Association) underlines that >40% of fertiliser production is traded internationally, so that continuing movement is essential to enable supply, and that without mineral fertilisers world food production would be cut by around half. Both federations underline the need to ensure safety of workers handling and transporting fertilisers through enhanced hygiene measures and personal protective equipment.

Policy

EU new Circular Economy Action Plan

The revised Circular Economy Action Plan published by the new Commission on 1st March includes “Food, water and nutrients” as one of the seven key targeted value chains. Actions indicated are to “develop an Integrated Nutrient Management Plan with a view to ensuring more sustainable application of nutrients and stimulating the markets for recovered nutrients”, reduce food waste, facilitate water reuse, possible review of the wastewater and sewage sludge directives (including assessing natural nutrient recovery e.g. by algae), continuing the Bioeconomy Action Plan, a policy framework on compostable, biodegradable and bio-based plastics (ESPP note: important for digestates and composts) and a number of actions to address microplastics and to better understand their risk and occurrence. The Plan indicates the need to improve monitoring of resource recycling, proposing a “market observatory for key secondary materials”, a “Monitoring Framework for the Circular Economy” and “Indicators on resource use, including consumption and material footprints”. The Plan also aims to better integrate the circular economy into Member States fiscal policies, via the European Semester and at the global level to define a “Safe Operating Space” for natural resource use.

COM(2020)98 “A new Circular Economy Action Plan” 11th March 2020 

Global fertiliser industry “committed to reducing P losses”

A 3-minute video from the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) promotes the need for phosphorus fertilisers to feed the world, stating that 32% of the world’s cropland and 43% of the pastures are phosphorus deficient and that world phosphate rock resources represent 1 000 years of consumption. The video underlines that eutrophication is a major problem, caused by fertiliser losses and other phosphorus releases, and that it is likely to worsen with climate change. The fertiliser industry states that it is promoting better fertiliser management, indicating that fertiliser use efficiency can reach 90% and losses of fertiliser P to surface waters can be reduced to 3%. IFA states that it supports recycling where appropriate, and is “committed to reducing phosphorus losses”.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwOR0PzZENk&t=

Prosumer cross-KIC meeting on perspectives for P-recovery

The web-meeting “Sustainable strategies towards a phosphorus circular economy: Cross-KIC web-meeting” (26th March, 2020), organized by the Department of Industrial Engineering of the University of Bologna, brought together some 40 participants from research, industry and high-education around two projects funded by the EIT (the EU’s European Institute of Innovation and Technology) KIC (Knowledge & Innovation Communities) ‘Climate’ and ‘Raw Materials’, respectively Prosumer and InPhos projects. Other projects relevant to phosphorus funded by these KIC’s include raPHOsafe and Phosforce. The web-meeting covered different disciplines of phosphorus management. The company Puccioni, fertiliser producer, indicated that the company is working on the industrial-scale use of recovered struvite from the wastewater of another Italian company, Pizzoli, a potato processing plant, as input to triple super phosphate production. Both companies are stakeholders of the Prosumer project.  The technological provider, Outotec, summarised state of the art of phosphorus recovery. Marche Polytechnic University explained the European and Italian legislative framework and the technical features of recovered P for reuse in agriculture.

The webcam discussed agricultural valorisation of sewage sludge. In Italy, this can contribute to soil carbon in Southern Italy where this is critical. The proposed new Italy sludge management regulation, currently under consultation, would enable continuing agricultural use limited to high quality sludge (metal and organic contaminant limits, nutrient value) and would fix a priority of P-recovery if sludge could not achieve these criteria and define End-of-Waste for appropriate recovered P products.

The Italy Phosphorus Platform (ENEA, under the aegis of the Environment Ministry) presented survey results showing that stakeholders see the three biggest obstacles to nutrient recycling to be End-of-Waste regulatory problems, need for regulatory drivers for recovery and lack of knowledge.

In the Baltic region, the InPhos project, coordinated by the Mineral and Energy Economy Research Institute, has identified priority recommendations for a common and shared strategy for a more sustainable P management and for the reduction of eutrophication. Proman presented results of a quantification of nutrient flows in the Baltic Sea Region, as first step to clearly monitor the situation and define effective solutions.

After the presentation of University of Bologna, discussion among all attenders confirmed the value of R&I projects in demonstrating the technical feasibility and assessing the economics and business models for nutrient recovery, as these are essential to facilitate movement by policy makers and industry.

InPhos Prosumer webinar 26th March 2020

See below summaries of Prosumer project, and of Outotec (AshDec update) and Proman (Baltic nutrient management) presentations.

Call for 80% cut in meat eating

Greenpeace says Europe neds to reduce average meat consumption by 80% (by 2050) to achieve the UN +1.5°C limit to hope to prevent climate breakdown. This corresponds to the 300 g of meat per week (the equivalent of two burgers) recommended by The Lancet for a balanced sustainable diet (see ESPP eNews n°30). Greenpeace calls on the European Commission to include targets for reductions in meat consumption in its Farm to Fork Strategy, to be presented soon as part of the Green Deal. Mark Driscoll, food consultant at Tasting the Future, suggests that a massive reduction in meat consumption is indeed necessary (he suggests -50% by 2030) to reduce both environmental and health damage of our diets, but he underlines that locally produced, regeneratively farmed meat can have sustainability advantages.

Greenpeace “EU climate diet: 71% less meat by 2030” 13th March 2020

 

Science and research

National and global phosphorus footprints

A study estimates the “Phosphorus Exceedance Footprint” (PEF) for different countries, assessing their contribution to the transgression of global planetary boundaries for phosphorus, particularly looking at international trade. Around 30% of planetary boundary exceedance for phosphorus is shown to be linked to international trade flows. Wealthier countries tend to reduce their domestic fertiliser use whilst increasing import of products containing embedded phosphorus footprints. The highest PEF per capita identified is for New Zealand (nearly 19 kgP/capita/year), presumably related to high levels of meat production. The highest absolute PEF is China (3.3 kgP/capita/year, but total 4.5 million tonnes P/year, that is 44% of total world PEF), followed by India, the USA and Brazil. France imports around 100% of its PEF, presumably corresponding mainly to imported animal feed, whereas Brazil and New Zealand export around 100% of their DPE (domestic P exceedance), presumably corresponding to exports of meat products. The authors consider that this work will facilitate devilment of planetary boundary benchmarking for countries, public policies, diets and food products.

“Towards meaningful consumption-based planetary boundary indicators: The phosphorus exceedance footprint”, M. Li et al., Global Environmental Change 54 (2019) 227–238 DOI

Lack of data on global phosphorus cycles

The only relatively recent paper attempting to estimated global phosphorus flows shows the need for a coherent assessment, in order to have reliable data to support policy making. Chen & Graedel 2016 (estimating flows for 2013) suggest that from 69 MtP/year in mined phosphate rock, only 31 Mt end up in beneficiated, marketable rock. This is reasonably close to Steiner et al. 2015 (see ESPP’s SCOPE Newsletter n°128). However, Chen & Graedel suggest that the non processed phosphate rock (tailings) ends up as water pollution, whereas in most mines this will be returned to the mining site with not significantly more loss to water than the rock before mining. This leads the paper to conclude that over half of annual P losses to water worldwide are from mining. The authors also conclude that globally soils are losing nearly 11 MtP/year to water (that is nearly half the annual P used in mineral fertiliser). This contradicts other authors who estimate global soil P accumulation (the reference indicated is incorrect, but may refer to Bouwman 2009, see SCOPE Newsletter n°88). These differences confirm the need for an up-to-date assessment of global phosphorus flows.

“A half-century of global phosphorus flows, stocks, production, consumption, recycling, and environmental impacts”, M. Chen, T. Graedel, Global Environmental Change 36 (2016) 139–152. For other data see ESPP Phosphorus Fact Sheet

 

AshDec P-recovery process new test data

Tanja Schaaf presented 26th March 2020, at the InPhos Prosumer workshop (see above) an update on the AshDec process for phosphate recovery from sewage sludge incineration ash and other ashes. A 20-25 kg/h input ash pilot has been operated continuously for 7 day, testing different additives and different temperatures. The choice of additive (sodium carbonate or sulphate) and operation with excess or depleted oxygen impact heavy metal removal and phosphorus solubility (plant availability) in the final product. Sodium carbonate showed to give a product with >80% P-NAC (neutral ammonium citrate) solubility, even down to 850°C. Significant removal of lead, arsenic and cadmium was achieved, improving at higher temperatures (even though cadmium was already very low in the sewage sludge incineration ash used). Copper and zinc were not significantly removed. Pot trials with spinach, soybean and rye grass at Bonn University show fertiliser effectiveness comparable to triple super phosphate.

Summary presented at the InPhos Prosumer webinar 26th March 2020

 

Baltic region nutrient flows and management perspectives

A study by Proman for HELCOM (the intergovernmental Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission) has developed substance flow analyses for phosphorus and nitrogen and identifies potentials for reducing losses to the Sea and for developing recycling. To calculate losses, nutrient use efficiency (NUE) is estimated at 90% for mineral fertilisers and at 70% for N and 77% for P in organic fertilisers (based on references below). Nitrogen balance per hectare (input minus estimated offtake, in harvest and in crop residues removed from the field) is highest in Russia (Baltic catchment) and Denmark, and phosphorus balance also highest for Russia. The biggest opportunities for nutrient recovery are in manure (combined with anaerobic digestion) and in sewage (largely in the treatment phase for N and in sludge management for P). Nutrient recycling could represent 500 – 900 KtN/y in the Baltic region, potentially replacing 55 – 69% of mineral N fertiliser use, and 31 – 122 KtP/y, replacing 17 – 50% of mineral P fertiliser use. Improving fertiliser use efficiency remains on the largest opportunities for reducing nutrient losses.

Summary presented at the InPhos Prosumer webinar 26th March 2020

References for Nutrient Use Efficiency: Gutser et al., 2005, Short-term and residual availability of nitrogen after long-term application of organic fertilisers on arable land. J. Plant Nutr. Soil. Sci 168, 439-446. DOI: 10.1002/jpln.200520510. Hamilton et al., 2017, Recycling potential of secondary phosphorus resources as assessed by integrating substance flow analysis and plant-availability, Science of the Total Environment 575, 1546-1555. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.10.056. Syers et al.,   2010, A new perspective on the efficiency of phosphorus fertiliser use, 19th World Congress of Soil Science, Soil Solutions for a Changing World. 01.08.2010 – 06.08.2010, Brisbane, AU. Published on DVD.

 


Lessons from Asia’s nutrient footprints

A study estimates changes in the per capita nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) footprints of China, India and Japan from 1961 to 2013, using a comparable framework. Calculations derive nutrient use efficiencies and nutrient recycling ratios, calculated for each nutrient, each country, and each year. The ratios are based on IFA data, FAO data and literatures on inputs in food production, manure use, food losses, etc. The number used for meat vary from, e.g. 28 kgP-released per kgP in food intake for Japan in the 1960’s (up to 41 in the 1980’s) compared to 7.4 for India in the 1960’s (up to 8.4 in the 2010’s). For vegetables, the ratios are 6.4 (up to 12) for Japan compared to 0.01 (up to 0.9) for India. China’s footprints increased significantly from 1976: from c. 5 to 19 kgN and from 1.2 to 4.8 kgP (per person, per year). There were some cases of near zero new phosphorus use, due to use of P in soil by crops: the accounted P input was either less than or only a little more than the P in the final crop product. India’s footprints also increased from 1976, from 8.5 to 11 kgN and from 1 to 1.6 kgP. In Japan, the footprints increased until 1993, from 12 to 28 kgN and from 2.6 to 8 kgP, but then fell to 22 kgN and 6 kgP by 2013. This decrease in Japan, despite increasing meat consumption, is considered to be related to decreasing cereal consumption and improved agricultural nutrient use efficiency. The authors conclude that the N footprint is most sensitive to meat consumption, whereas the phosphorus footprint is most sensitive to consumption of vegetables, whereas improving nutrient use efficiency can significantly reduce the nutrient footprint for all foodstuffs and diets. They note that if footprints of 7.6 billion people in the high and middle income countries in 2030  increase to the 1993 levels of Japan’s footprints, even if the footprints of the other 1.0 billion people stay at the 1961 levels of China’s footprints, this would result in increases of +20% for the global nitrogen footprint and +90% for the global phosphorus footprint.

“Trends in the food nitrogen and phosphorus footprints for Asia's giants: China, India, and Japan”, A. Oita et al., Resources, Conservation & Recycling 157 (2020) 104752 DOI

 

Insect frass showed to be a good fertiliser

13-week pot trials with barley (Hordeum vulgare) compared insect frass to mineral NPK fertiliser. Insect frass is the waste generated from insect farming, a mixture of insect faeces and used substrate. In this case, the frass was from a mealworm farm operated by Ÿnsect, Paris, after hygienisation (60 minutes @ 70°C). At this industrial insect farm, the mealworms are fed with local agriculture by-products (wheat bran). Soil was from a cultivated field, with pH 7.8. Frass or mineral fertiliser was mixed into the soil two weeks before planting the barley seed, at a loading equivalent to 10 tonnes of frass per hectare (dry weight) or equivalent nutrients (as ammonium nitrate, potassium phosphate and potassium chloride) with four treatments: frass, 50% frass / 50% mineral fertiliser, mineral fertiliser, control. Biomass production and plant N, P and K concentrations were not significantly different between the frass and fertiliser treatments, and were significantly higher than the control (one third to one half higher). Soil incubation and Biolog EcoPlate tests showed that the frass has lower water-soluble nutrients than these mineral fertilisers (the authors indicate that this will reduce risk of nutrient leaching) and that the frass stimulates soil microbial activity, especially when combined with mineral fertiliser.

“Potential use of mealworm frass as a fertilizer: Impact on crop growth and soil properties”, D. Houben et al., Nature Research Scientific Reports, 2020, 10:4659, DOI

 

Nitrification inhibitor improves P uptake and yield

30-day pot trails with maize suggest that the nitrification inhibitor DMPP (3,4-Dimethylpyrazolphosphate) improved yield and phosphorus uptake with both soluble phosphorus fertiliser (TSP) and low plant availability P sources (phosphate rock, recovered phosphate: thermochemically magnesium treated sewage sludge ash SS-Mg). The trials used ammonium sulphate nitrate as N fertiliser. Controls showed that differences were not related to the P content of the DMPP. Analysis showed that the DMPP increased ammonium fixation in detectable hot-spots in the soil. The authors suggest that the slow release of plant available ammonium may decreases rhizosphere pH, due to H+ release in plant ammonium uptake, so increasing phosphorus availability. An earlier paper by some of the same authors showed that pyrolysis (400-500°C) of biological P-removal sewage sludge resulted in a product with good plant availability (NAC neutral ammonium citrate P solubility, maize pot trials), whereas pyrolysed chemical P-removal sludge had low plant availability. High temperature treatment of the chemical P-removal sludge with sodium additives resulted in high plant P availability (as calcium sodium phosphate).

“Effects of a nitrification inhibitor on nitrogen species in the soil and the yield and phosphorus uptake of maize”, C. Vogel et al., Science of the Total Environment 715 (2020) 136895, DOI  10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.136895

“Effect of various types of thermochemical processing of sewage sludges on phosphorus speciation, solubility, and fertilization performance”, D. Steckenmesser et al., Waste Management 62 (2017) 194–203 DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2017.02.019


UBA report on pharmaceuticals in recycled phosphates

The German Environment Agency (UBA) has published results of analysis of pharmaceuticals in sewage sludge and in struvite, biochar/HTC and thermal process P-recovery products. 11 pharmaceuticals were analysed in sewage and recovered phosphates at 9 sites: four precipitated phosphate salt processes (AirPrex, Stuttgard, MSE, P-RoC), two thermal processes (AshDec, Mephrec), three pyrolysis/hydrothermal carbonisation processes (Pyreg, TCR, AVA Cleanphos). Results conclude, that the pharmaceuticals were no longer detectable after processing at 400 - 500°C whereas the AVA Cleanphos process at 210°C did reduce but not fully eliminate them. Some pharmaceuticals were detectable in the precipitated phosphate salts (highest: 1.1 mg/kg ciprofloxacin in Air-Prex struvite, precipitated upstream of sludge dewatering). The report concludes that further research is needed as to the possible risks of use as fertilisers of the recycled phosphate products containing traces of pharmaceuticals, as well as actions to reduce levels of pharmaceuticals in sewage.

“Arzneimittelrückstände in Rezyklaten der Phosphorrückgewinnung aus Klärschlämmen” (Pharmaceutical residues in recycled phosphates from sewage works), Umwelt Bundesamt 31/2019 ISSN 1862-4804


Erratum

In the article “Effectiveness of fertiliser and manure in long term field trial”, summarising Ning et al. 2020, in our last eNews (n°41), the numbers indicated for application, budget, crop uptake of phosphorus should be read as kg/ha total for the 20 years (and not as kg/ha/year as incorrectly indicated).

  

 ESPP members logos 12 3 20

 

 

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews041
Download as PDF

Events
ESPC4 Full programme now online 
4th European Phosphorus Research Meeting (PERM)
Workshop on iron phosphate chemistry applied to phosphorus stewardship 
RAMIRAN 2020 

Corona virus situation

ESPP members

Veolia and Yara to present Nutrient Upcycling Alliance
New ESPP member: Fertimanure project

Innovation
Eutrophication solution from down-under

Regulatory
EU consultation on “Farm to Fork” strategy: closes 16th March 
EU “SafeManure”: not “end-of-manure”
European Commission announces STRUBIAS annexes for 2021 
Danish assessment concludes sewage sludge safe for Organic Farming 
ESPP requests withdrawal of EU-funded study on composts and digestates
The Green Deal and EU economic policy 

Communications
The Baltic Sea of Opportunity 
US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance webinar on P and food 
European Commission publishes conclusions on resource recovery
Circularity Gap Report 2020
Industrial Phosphorus Chemistry Symposium 
IFA Forum on Plant Nutrition
IFA: potential disruptors of the mineral fertilisers market
Measures for better manure nutrient use presented for HELCOM 
Review of fertiliser recycling from manure in Norway
EIP-Agri: new pig and poultry feed

Science and research
Review of P fertiliser performance of recycled nutrient products
Effectiveness of fertiliser and manure in long term field trial
Phosphorus flows in global aquaculture

ESPP members

 

Events

 

ESPC4 Full programme now online

This is the major event on phosphorus sustainability in Europe, taking place every 2-3 years. The full programme of speakers for the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Vienna, 15-17 June 2020, is now published Registration is now open on Eventbrite). Sessions cover city and regional actions on nutrient stewardship, business case examples of phosphorus recycling, policy tools, research perspectives and new technologies for P-recovery from research to industrial implementation in Europe and worldwide

ESPC4 is jointly organised by the European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP) and Proman Consulting, with support of the City of Vienna (Municipal Department 48 (MA48); Waste Management, Street Cleaning and Vehicle Fleet) and of Borealis, EasyMining, WKU and LAT

Registration: Eventbrite

Conference programme, hotel lists, etc: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4
See note below on Corona virus.

 
 4th European Phosphorus Research Meeting (PERM)
The third day of ESPC4 (17th June, Vienna) will be the 4th European Phosphorus Research Meeting, showcasing R&D into phosphorus recycling and recycled products and new approaches to phosphorus stewardship. This is a unique opportunity to meet and exchange with other projects working on phosphorus, and to discuss research perspectives with the European Commission, industry and stakeholders. The meeting will be limited to around 100 participants, 20 project flash presentations and around 20 posters, in order to enable dialogue, discussion and networking. To participate: register as below and contact

Co-organised by ESPP, Biorefine Cluster Europe, TU Wien, Proman Consulting.
Registration with booking for ESPC4: Eventbrite

Conference programme, hotel lists, etc: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4
See note below on Corona virus.

 

Workshop on iron phosphate chemistry applied to phosphorus stewardship

ESPP, with WETSUS, INCOPA, INRAE Rennes and the Horizon 2020 projects P-TRAP and SUSFERT, is organising a science and implementation workshop on iron phosphate chemistry in different systems (sediments, soil, agriculture, waste water and sewage sludge). The objective is to improve understanding of applied iron phosphate chemistry in these systems, to develop phosphorus recycling, eutrophication management and better agronomic use of secondary resources. The 1.5 day workshop will be held in Utrecht, the Netherlands 13-14 July, 2020 and include a networking dinner. The themes will cover: Iron phosphorus interactions in sediments, in soils and engineered systems, Strategies for phosphorus release and P-recovery from iron phosphates, Iron - phosphate interactions in agriculture and Markets for recovered iron phosphate materials. Proposals for posters, presentations or specific questions to address are welcome

Utrecht, the Netherlands 13-14 July, 2020. See note below on Corona virus.
Registration: Eventbrite

Contact:
 

            

RAMIRAN 2020

Europe’s leading manure and organic resources recycling conference, RAMIRAN, will take place in Cambridge, UK, 14-17 September 2020. The RAMIRAN network was established 25 years ago and the biennial conference attracts some 250 participants. This year’s RAMIRAN will look at “Managing Organic Resources in a Changing Environment”, including nutrient utilisation, soil quality, air and water, best practices, treatment technologies and policy. Abstract submission until 1st March 2019.

www.ramiran2020.org

 
 

Corona virus situation

ESPP is monitoring with concern the Corona virus development. For the events above planned by ESPP in June (ESPC4, PERM) and July (iron phosphorus workshop), in agreement with the City of Vienna for ESPC4 and PERM, it is not at present justified to postpone. However, if the developing situation does necessitate postponement of either of these events, then all registrations will be transferred to the new date to be fixed. If this is not possible for the registrant, then partial reimbursement will be made (minus non-recoverable costs). All registrants will be directly updated of developments by email.

 

ESPP members

 

Veolia and Yara to present Nutrient Upcycling Alliance

Global resource recovery company Veolia and leading crop nutrition company Yara, both members of ESPP, have launched a “Nutrient Upcycling Alliance”, to implement a sustainable and economically viable food system through hands-on, business driven projects. The Food initiative of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has provided circular economy knowledge support to inform the strategy and policy objectives, which will be developed with companies in the food industry and with farmers. (The Ellen MacArthur Foundation published a report on “Cites and Circular Economy for Food” in 2019, see ESPP eNews n°31). The two companies are already working together on operational initiatives to launch new nutrient recovery installations in a number of major European cities and to transform the recovered nutrients into performance fertiliser products. They are developing actions to recover nutrients and recycle to quality mineral fertilisers, with Yara’s expertise, and to organo-mineral fertilisers, in combination with Veolia’s subsidiary Sede Angibaud. The objective is also to collect and process (non-edible) food waste in cities to recycle to agriculture. A first joint development is already operational in Oslo (VEAS), recovering ammonia from sewage sludge methane production and processing to nitrogen fertilisers. The Nutrient Upcycling Alliance (NUA) will be presented at the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPC4).

“Veolia and Yara partner to propel European circular economy”

https://www.yara.com/corporate-releases/veolia-and-yara-partner-to-propel-european-circular-economy/

 

New ESPP member: Fertimanure project

The FERTIMANURE project (Innovative nutrient recovery from secondary sources: production of high-added value FERTilisers from animal MANURE, Horizon 2020, 2020-2023) is a new ESPP member, represented by project coordinator BETA Technological Center (UVIC-UCC, Vic, Spain). The project will examine innovative technologies for nutrient recovery and manure recycling, as well as the development of innovative nutrient management routes and circular economy business models. Five on-farm nutrient recovery pilot plants will be demonstrated in Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Spain. With different combinations of on-farm and centralised production and processing of manure and sub-products, eleven different bio-based fertilisers and twenty tailor-made fertilisers will be developed and assessed, including fertilising product adequacy tested in greenhouse and field, quality and safety, and sustainability. The project includes 21 partners from Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Argentina, including Fertilizers Europe, Greenwin cluster Belgium, the French Chamber of Agriculture (APCA), and the European Landowners Association (ELO).

Contact: Laia Llenas Argelaguet (FERTIMANURE PI)

 

Innovation

 

Eutrophication solution from down-under

Australian innovation company Marine Easy Clean, manufacturers of The Water Cleanser (TWC) is looking to demonstrate in Europe its passive technology solution to address eutrophication in natural systems, fresh or saltwater, or to improve waste nutrient cycling in aquaculture. The TWC block restores natural bacterial balance without releasing chemicals. It contains very many microscopic capillaries, the size of which allow the proliferation of bacterial inhabitation and a non-soluble source of organic carbon (wax) which together enable rapid development of naturally present Bacillus bacteria. These release enzymes which break down organic matter in water, rendering bioavailable phosphorus and nitrogen. This enables “green” chloroplast and diatom algae to develop, providing food to crustaceans, shellfish and fish, rather than toxic Cycanobacteria (blue green algae) which develop when there is too much phosphorus and insufficient available nitrogen. The uptake of phosphorus by the “green” algae leads to low water phosphate levels, so reducing eutrophication symptoms and restoring natural ecosystem balance. In tank systems, this also improves aquaculture productivity. The Bacillus also decompose natural oils, which tend to accumulate in eutrophic waters and which can reduce surface oxygen exchange. Because the Bacillus largely function without oxygen, they do not generate oxygen depletion (dead zones). Published tests show the effectiveness of the TWC blocks in 100 litre tanks (using polluted water from the Rio de Janeiro lagoon), as well as in fish and crayfish production tanks. TWC is looking for research, industry or public partners to test the system in Europe, in restoration of eutrophied waters (fresh or salt) or in aquaculture (in tank systems, or to address ‘dead zones’ below open-water aquaculture pens).
https://www.marineeasyclean.com.au/

 

Regulatory

 

EU consultation on “Farm to Fork” strategy: closes 16th March

The European Commission has opened to 16th March 2020 a public consultation on the ‘Roadmap’ for an EU Sustainable Food (‘farm to fork’) strategy. The proposed roadmap underlines that globally, the food system generates 20-30% of greenhouse emissions, as well as to air, soil and water pollution and biodiversity loss, and that around 20% of EU food production is lost as waste whilst 7% of the EU population cannot “afford a quality meal every second day”, yet obesity and diet related disease and health costs are rising. Four objectives are defined for the strategy: sustainable primary food production, sustainable food processing and food services, sustainable food consummation and a “shift towards healthy, sustainable diets” and reducing food waste. The inclusion of diet in EU policy objectives is a significant landmark and it is stated that the Commission will propose actions to help consumers choose healthy and sustainable diets by providing better food information, including on “nutritional value”. Actions cited include to reduce the use of fertilisers and establishing Advisory Groups on the Food Chain and on Aquaculture.
For memory, the EU Regulation on Food Information 1169/2011 makes obligatory, for pre-packed foods, ‘front of pack’ information on content of calories, fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt. Other nutritional information, including levels of minerals (including phosphorus) is voluntary.

EU public consultation to 16th March 2020:
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/initiatives/ares-2020-941864_en

 
 

EU “SafeManure”: not “end-of-manure”

ESPP and the German Phosphorus Platform (DPP) participated at the expert & stakeholders meeting to input to the draft EU report “SafeManure: Developing criteria for safe use of processed manure in Nitrates Vulnerable Zones above the threshold established by the Nitrates Directive”, at JRC Seville, 28-30 January 2020. The meeting clarified that this proposal aims to facilitate, under specified conditions, the use of “processed” manure to replace mineral fertiliser in some regions with high livestock density, that is: authorisation of use at levels higher than the 170 kgN/ha general limit for manure and processed manure fixed by the Nitrates Directive, up to the higher limits regionally applicable for non-manure fertilisers. This concerns particularly the liquid fraction of solid/liquid separated manure, processed manure digestates, animal urine separated in the stable or process-separated and some “mineral concentrates” (a category which is poorly defined). The materials defined by the criteria, termed ‘ReNure’ materials, would continue to be classified as manures, and would not be given End of Waste status. The conditions for use would have to be specifically defined in Member State / Region ‘Nitrate Vulnerable Zone Action Programmes’, subject to case-by-case European Commission validation (the proposed ReNure criteria include requirements to define regional specifications on both ReNure and other fertiliser application, field management …). In discussion, the obligation was added to ensure appropriate management of phosphorus in Action Programmes where ReNure materials use derogations are included. ReNure status would thus be specific to a given region, would not be transferrable to another region, and would confer neither EU nor national fertiliser status (the materials remain “manure in a processed form”).
ESPP expressed regret that the European Commission has not so far been considered our submitted proposals to clarify “end of manure” status, for materials which are “mineral fertilisers”, referring to the definition in the EU Fertilising Product Regulation (FPR), that is < 1% organic carbon / DM. ESPP suggests that such materials, derived wholly or partly from manure, should be no longer treated as “processed manure” under the Nitrates Directive, without modification of regional Action Programmes. We suggest that this would respect the Nitrates Directive text, by limiting to products which clearly do not resemble manure or pose leaching or pollution risks. ESPP has written to the European Commission (DG Environment) request that this possibility be assessed.

JRC “interim” version of the SafeManure report, as discussed at the meeting, and now undergoing finalisation by JRC: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

European Commission announces STRUBIAS annexes for 2021

The European Commission has published on its “Have your say” public website, a preliminary information (not dated) announcing an expected future public consultation (dates not announced) on the new criteria for use of ‘STRUBIAS’ materials as components for CE-Mark fertilisers (CMCs), under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation: struvite and precipitated phosphate salts, ashes and “thermal oxidation materials” and biochars, pyrolysis and gasification materials. These pages indicate expected adoption of these three criteria “First quarter 2021”, that is before the date of entry into application of the Fertilising Products Regulation in July 2022. The proposed criteria texts are not published here, but are (according to our information) essentially the same as those proposed in the JRC report (see ESPP eNews n°36) and are available on the ESPP website (under Activities -> Regulatory). It was expected to finalise discussion of these criteria at the EU Fertilisers Working Group planned end March 2020, but this meeting has been postponed due to Corona virus.

https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say

 

 

Danish assessment concludes sewage sludge safe for Organic Farming

An assessment of risks related to use of sewage sludge and pig or cattle slurry has been published by Copenhagen University and the Danish National Food Institute (DTU). This follows from a 2017 report of the Danish Organic (Farming) Business Development Team which recommended that Organic Farmers should be allowed to use nutrients from treated municipal wastewater. The assessment finds that the main risks from pig and cattle slurry are copper and zinc, but that these will decrease with regulations prohibiting addition of these elements to pig feed in 2019 and 2022 respectively. Other contaminants showed no significant risk, with the summed risk of all organic contaminants (including antibiotic resistance) “low” for soil (but with a risk for oestrogen for farrowing pigs). For sewage sludge, the only contaminants with PEC/PNEC >1 (Predicted Environmental Concentration / Predicted No Effect Concentration) were phthalates and triclocarbon (but for triclcarbon there was no data for Danish sludge and estimates were based on US numbers). Organic contaminants in sewage sludge are not expected to accumulate in soil. Metal compounds would only reach PNEC after long periods of repeated sludge application: the most critical being zinc at 100 years. Veterinary medicine residues in sewage sludge are considered of “low concern” and the risk from antibiotic resistance is no higher than for manures and is likely to be not significant. Overall, sewage sludge is considered to not represent a higher risk to soil organisms than pig or cattle slurry.

“Assessment of risks related to agricultural use of sewage sludge, pig and cattle slurry”, K. Eggers Pedersen et al., University of Copenhagen and DTU Food, National Food Institute, Denmark, December 2019, ISBN 978-87-996274-2-4 https://plen.ku.dk/raadgivning/rapporter/Assessment_of_risks_related_to_agricultural_use_of_sewage_sludge_pig_and_cattle_slurry.pdf

 

ESPP requests withdrawal of EU-funded study on composts and digestates

As indicated in ESPP eNews n°37, the European Commission has published a study on contaminants in composts and digestates, proposing possible EU-wide restrictions, using “Risk Management” measures under EU chemical regulation REACH. Despite both compost and digestate being exempted from REACH “Registration”, REACH can still be used to impose bans or restrictions.
ESPP’s comments were elaborated with the European Compost Network (ECN), the European Biogas Association (EBA), Growing Media Europe and the water industry (Eureau). ESPP underlines that the report fails to consider reduction of contaminants at source as a priority, does not offer a science-based risk assessment, ignores existing risk assessments, is not coherent with the EU Fertilising Products Regulation and contains no assessment of cost/benefit nor of overall life cycle impacts. For example, key conclusions on pharmaceuticals seem to be based on the “opinion” of just one “expert”. A proposed ban of compost and digestate with sewage sludge as an input (contrary to authorisation under several Member States’ national fertiliser legislation) seems to be based on this one “opinion” on pharmaceuticals, on dioxins and furans (which are not a particularly relevant contaminant in sewage sludge, and are decreasing) and on copper and zinc (which are micro-nutrients, c.f. their treatment under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation). Incoherent and unrealistic contaminant limits are proposed for various other substances, including nickel and mercury. Indeed, the study does not even define which “composts” and “digestates” are covered, seeming to include a wide range of waste inputs which may not be relevant.

ESPP comments on the AMEC study: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

AMEC study: “Digestate and compost as fertilisers: Risk assessment and risk management options. Final Report” Ramboll – Peter Fisk – WOOD (ref. 40039CL00313, 8th February 2019
 

The Green Deal and EU economic policy

IEEP (Institute for European Environment Policy) has published a paper proposing to reform the European Semester to implement the Commission’s Green Deal and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Semester was adopted by Council in 2010 as a tool for economic and fiscal coordination in the EU, with objectives of convergence, stability and economic growth, and coordinates in a six month cycle Member States’ policies including structural reforms, fiscality and macroeconomic balances. A social element was added to the Semester in 2013, but environment is still largely absent: 21 green growth indicators are mostly on energy and DG ENVI is not involved in the process (led by GROW, ECFIN, EMPL, FISMA). However, in December 2019, the Commission published an “Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy”, replacing the previous years’ “Annual Growth Survey”. This refers to the importance of material resources and ecosystem services. IEEP suggest this should be implemented by introducing sustainability and wellbeing into the European Semester process. IEEP propose 8 sustainability dimensions, including green economy, green taxes and incentives, green R&D and innovation and sustainable industry. IEEP propose to use 15 existing indicators as an environmental sustainability scoreboard, including % of water bodies in Good Ecological Status, soil sealing, eco-innovation index, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, material consumption per capita and years of life lost due to particulate air pollution.

“Delivering the Green Deal: the role of a reformed European Semester within a new sustainable economy strategy”, IEEP, C. Charveriat & E. Bodin, 2020

 
 

Communications

 

The Baltic Sea of Opportunity

An 18 minute film from the Baltic BONUS RETURN project explains visually, for a general public audience, that phosphorus can be transformed from a problematic pollutant to an economic resource. Phosphorus is essential for life, agriculture and global food security. But losses are the biggest cause of eutrophication, devastating the Baltic. Jakob Granit, Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, explains the need to reduce nutrient loads into agriculture and to take nutrients, accumulated in the past, out of water and from sediments. Solutions exist to transform phosphorus waste into a sustainable resource. Examples presented include Wodociagi Slupsk, Poland, producing compost from sewage sludge which is then sold as a fertiliser in Poland. Jon Wessling, LRF (Federation of Swedish Farmers) explains that they recommend the use of sewage sludge in agriculture. Innovations tested in the BONUS RETURN project are presented. BioPhree Aquacare (see ESPP eNews n°29) is tested at Knivsta, Sweden, on a sewage works discharge stream. This process uses adsorbents to remove phosphorus from dilute streams, such as surface waters, which then can be regenerated to recover phosphorus. The Ravita (Helsinki HSY) P-removal and recovery process is tested in Finland (see SCOPE Newsletter n°132). TerraNova, a continuous hydrothermal hydrolysis carbonisation process (see SCOPE Newsletter n°132) will be tested on sewage sludge in Gävle, Sweden, producing a biochar-type fertiliser. The film underlines the challenges of regulatory obstacles to nutrient recycling and the opportunities of the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation.

The Baltic Sea of Opportunity https://www.bonusreturn.eu/sea-of-opportunity-film/

 

US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance webinar on P and food

The 9th webinar organised by the US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance, 18th February and can be watched here discussed phosphorus and food. Jaime Uribarri’s presentation suggested that US food phosphorus levels are considerably higher than the RDA (recommended daily allowance = recommended minimum dietary intake) and that there is evidence that increased phosphorus levels in blood are linked to risk of arterial calcification, and so cardiovascular disease. However, most of the papers referenced only show a link with diet for kidney disease patients, not for the general population. He emphasised the absence of information about levels of phosphate food additives in different foods, which can be important because these additives are absorbed into the body more than phosphorus in plant materials in foods. Jim Elser underlined that the world’s phosphorus footprint (mined phosphorus per capita) has increased nearly 40% since the 1960s and that the key cause is increasing meat content of diets. David Vaccari presented an analysis of possible routes to reduce phosphorus consumption, showing that important action points are reducing food waste, improving fertiliser and improving the use efficiency of phosphorus in livestock production (in particular, better use of manure). With current practices, he estimates that without fertilisers from rock phosphate, only a world population of around 2.5 billion could be fed, but that this could be increased to over 10 billion by significant improvements in these action points, and to 15 billion if this were combined with a reduction in meat in diet.

Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance videos and webinars:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNFDQTfeT7mGsMY_YOgMonA

 

European Commission publishes conclusions on resource recovery

The conclusions on resource recovery from wastewater, from the workshop organised by four Horizon 2020 projects (SMART-Plant, nextGen, Hydrousa and Project-O) and the European Commission (EASME) at the 2019 IWA Resource Recovery conference, have now been published by the European Commission. The workshop agreed the following recommendations to further nutrient recovery and recycling: promote a positive image for recycling nutrients; need for stable regulatory support; importance of networking of competence, platforms and data benchmarking; difficulties posed by disparate implementation of End-of-Waste in different Member States and regions. The workshop recommended to promote and support nutrient recycling in Horizon Europe, and to develop better coordination of End-of-Waste, Water Policy and Circular Economy policies between Member States.

Report. Post-Conference workshop @IWARR2019. “H2020 Water Innovations for Sustainable Impacts in Industries and Utilities” here.

 

Circularity Gap Report 2020

The Circle Economy report 2020 indicates that global circularity has fallen from 9.1% (% of recycled materials in total resource consumption) to 8.6% from 2018 to 2020. The report underlines that circularity is key to achieving climate objectives. Nutrition is the second biggest user of resources, after housing/infrastructure, and consumes 21 billion tonnes of resources per year worldwide, out of a total of around 100 billion t/y entering the global economy (of which 92 bt extracted, just over 8 bt recycled). The report notes the need for better data and monitoring, including on the quality and composition of materials recycled. Sophisticated infographics illustrate global flows and country circularity levels. This suggests that companies closest to circularity include Sri Lanka, Georgia, Cuba, Jamaica. The least circular countries include the UAE, Burkina Faso and Luxembourg, with Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Sweden classed in the next-to-worst. Company CEOs cited as supporting the report include DSM and Royal Philips.

The Circularity Gap Report 2020, Circle Economy, CGRi, Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE).

 

Industrial Phosphorus Chemistry Symposium

The first Industrial Phosphorus Chemistry Symposium (IndPhos) took place in April 2019 back-to-back with the 16th European Workshop on Phosphorus Chemistry (EWPC). Willem Schipper, Schipper Consulting, focussed on options to make industrial uses of phosphorus more sustainable and more circular. Chris Harris, Solvay, showcased a wide range of applications of organophosphorus chemistry, including as flame retardants, in mining, scale and corrosion control in water treatment, agriculture, medicine and as ligands for catalysts in industrial applications. Thomas Schaub, BASF presented new phosphorus-containing catalysts for the hydrogenation of esters and for the synthesis of sodium acrylate based on CO2 and ethylene. Jan-Gerd Hansel, Lanxess, discussed the development of halogen-free flame retardants, in particular new poly(alkylene phosphate) esters as flame retardants in polyurethane foams. Steven van Zutphen, Italmatch, explained the industrial, regulatory and health and safety issues in scale-up of new chemistries from bench to multi-ton reactor scale. Reinhard Sommerlade, independent process design chemist, presented industrial uses of phosphorus-based photo-initiators, such as bis(acyl)phosphine oxides (BAPOs). Irradiation breaks the phosphorus - acyl carbon bond in these compounds, initiating emission-free polymerization of monomeric or oligomeric polymer precursors for various applications. Hansjörg Grützmacher, ETH, Zurich, discussed synthesis and application of new and sustainable building blocks in phosphorus chemistry, emphasising the need to combine innovation with recyclability and industrial feasibility.

Indphos was organised by Chris Slootweg, University of Amsterdam, with support from Solvay, OCP, Lanxess, Magritek, Strem, Glindemann, Springer, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry

https://ewpc16.com/indphos/

 

IFA Forum on Plant Nutrition

The “High-level Forum on Sustainable Plant Nutrition”, Versailles, France, November 2019, was chaired by David Nabarro, 4SD, 2018 World Food Prize laureate, and brought together the fertiliser industry, fertiliser industry stakeholders, funding and policy organisations and scientists. Prefacing the forum conclusions, Mostafa Terrab, OCP and IFA Chair, underlined that mineral fertilisers underpin around half of global food production, and that fertilisers will continue to be vital to feed the world, with improved soil health, water management and crop genetics. The forum addressed five challenges to global agricultural systems, and defined five recommendations to the fertilisers industry. The challenges to agriculture are: producing more with lower inputs, whilst improving nutritional quality; balancing productivity and environment; preserving natural resources; reducing climate emissions, including by improving nutrient use efficiency (NUE); training and empowering farmers. World hunger has increased for the last three years to 2019, today impacting over 800 million people. Some 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient malnutrition, impairing physical and mental development and the immune system. Whereas in some communities over-consumption of animal protein damages health. Recommendations to the fertiliser business are: new business models, including “from volume to value-added”, energy efficiency and circularity, including externalities in true cost accounting; building partnerships from farmers to consumers; collecting and using big data; technology innovation, such as micronutrient fertilisers, nutrient delivery efficient fertilisers, bio-stimulants, precision agriculture; promoting public policies which support human nutrition, carbon sequestration and reduced nutrient pollution.

IFA High Level Forum on Sustainable Plant Nutrition “Toward a new paradigm for sustainable plant nutrition”, 18-20 November 2019, Versailles, France https://www.highlevelforum.org

 

IFA: potential disruptors of the mineral fertilisers market

The IFA (International Fertilizer Association, the world fertiliser industry federation) marketing conference, Dubai, March 2020, included a session on potential disruptors of conventional mineral fertiliser markets. Armelle Gruère, IFA, listed potential market disruptors identified by IFA: increasing nutrient recycling, bio-stimulants, crop strains requiring less nutrients (e.g. nitrogen fixing), new fertiliser types, policies (regulation, subsidies), agriculture system changes in particular IT and big data, biofuels, diet changes. Derek Oliphant, Agbio Investor, noted that the global market for agriculture intrants is 250 billion US$, of which around 60 bn$ fertilisers and around 2 bn$ bio-stimulants. The bio-stimulants market is growing at >10%/year, and the EU is 40% of the world market. Development of crop strains (seeds) with improved nutrient use efficiency is today less of an industry priority than pest resistance. Ravinda Shrotriya, presented production of vegetables in urban hydroponics. Using artificial light, around 8 kWh energy is needed per kg vegetables, but water and intrant use efficiency are very high. Marina Simonova, IFA, indicated that world greenhouse area is growing +5%/year, generating demand for water-soluble fertilisers (e.g. MAP). Together, speciality fertilisers (water soluble, coated, slow or controlled release, nitrogen-stabilised / eutrophication inhibited) are growing at 4%/year and today represent 10% in value of world mineral fertiliser sales. Chris Thornton, ESPP, explained that the potential for nutrient recycling is significant, but that data is lacking. The quantity of phosphorus in manures in Europe is of the same order as that used in mineral fertilisers, and the quantity in sewage, organic solid wastes and animal by-products is a further one third of mineral fertilisers. There is a lack of data as to how much of these secondary nutrients is today recycled, and are really potentially recyclable, both at the global level (no reliable phosphorus flow study) and at the EU level (no monitoring, no update since Kimo Van Dijk’s 2015 paper (2005 data). ESPP presented examples of companies operating or building full-scale nutrient recycling today, either in organic (composts, organic fertilisers) or mineral forms (recovered ammonia, phosphorus), with large industrial operators (Veolia, Suez, ICL, Borealis, Fertiberia, Outotec, Ragn-Sells/EasyMining, …), SMEs (Ostara, NuReSys, N2-Applied …) and cities/regions (Kanton Zurich, Vienna …).

IFA Marketing Conference Dubai 3-5 March 2020

 
 

Measures for better manure nutrient use presented for HELCOM

The Baltic Sea Interreg platform project SuMaNu (Sustainable Manure and Nutrient Management for Reduction of Nutrient Loss in the Baltic Sea Region) compiles best practises in organic fertilizer use, manure management and processing. It will deliver recommendations to help implement the forthcoming Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy for the Baltic Sea riparian countries prepared in HELCOM. Preliminary (draft) recommendations were presented for discussion at a workshop on nutrient recycling measures arranged on 4-5 February in Helsinki, Finland, with HELCOM, the Finland Ministries of the Environment and of Agriculture of Finland as well as key coordinating actors of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The SuMaNu platform draft recommendations address the importance of optimised fertilisation planning, manure management, measures to address regional nutrient surpluses, management of safety and hygienic risks with respect to trace elements and organic contaminants; and knowledge transfer.

More information on the workshop and the HELCOM Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy here

Follow progress of the SuMaNu platform here: balticsumanu.eu

 
 

Review of fertiliser recycling from manure in Norway

NIBIO (Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research) has published a literature review and assessment of manure treatment technologies and recycled fertilisers from manure. In Norway, around 8 400 tP/y of mineral fertiliser are applied, as well as some 12 000 tP/y in manure, resulting in an annual soil P accumulation of around 12 000 tP/y, probably mainly due to over-application of manure in livestock intense regions. Livestock production in Norway is concentrated in the South-West (especially in Rogaland county). A currently ongoing revision of national fertiliser regulations is expected to reduce phosphorus application rates, and so lead to manure treatment and transport. Manure treatment technologies summarised are solid/liquid separation (sedimentation, centrifuge, filtration with or without pressure); upgrading of solid or liquid fractions (drying and pelletising, composting, combustion, pyrolysis, precipitation, concentration); anaerobic digestion; acidification. Literature shows that most pig and cattle manure separated fractions showed similar plant phosphorus uptake to mineral fertilisers, including when polymer flocculants were used to improve separation. Thermal treatments (drying, pyrolysis, combustion), however, tend to reduce phosphorus availability, especially at higher temperatures. The plant availability of inorganic chemicals recovered from manure depends on their chemical and physical characteristics. The effects of anaerobic digestion on manure plant availability are considered not clear from the limited data available. Composting may reduce plant P availability. Acidification tends to improve plant P availability, but also reduces separation efficiencies. NIBIO concludes that manure processing technologies are available which can improve phosphorus management and increase recycling, and which ensure good plant P availability.

“Manure-based recycling fertilisers. A literature review of treatment technologies and their effect on phosphorus fertilisation effects”, E. Brod, NIBIO report vol.4, n°91, 2018

 
 

EIP-Agri: new pig and poultry feed

The EU-funded “EIP-Agri” (European Innovation Partnership) has published conclusions on “New feed for pigs and poultry” assessing new feed sources and feeding strategies. Based on costs, nutritional value and sustainability, five priority feed sources are identified: bakery products (food industry waste bread or biscuits), protein extracted from green biomass such as grass or clover, insects, micro-algae (e.g. harvested seaweed such as kelp, or algae grown on waste streams such as digestate) and single-cell protein (e.g. from bacteria cultured on wastes). Some of these products offer pro-biotic benefits as well as feed value. Identified challenges include ensuring consistent nutritional characteristics; risks of contamination by e.g. packaging (bakery products) or toxins (algae, bacteria); logistics of production, processing, storage and transport; public acceptance and integration into Organic Farming. Further research is necessary into improving fat / protein / micronutrient balances in different materials, processing, digestibility and into analysis techniques.

EIP-Agri Focus Group “New feed for pigs and poultry”, final report, January 2020

 

Science and research

 

Review of P fertiliser performance of recycled nutrient products

200 published studies testing the phosphate fertilisation effect of a wide range of different recycled nutrient materials are reviewed, covering recovered minerals (calcium phosphates, struvite, etc), various treated and untreated ashes, pyrolysis products, sewage sludges, digestates. The authors conclude that some recycled products offer phosphate fertiliser effectiveness comparable to commercial, water-soluble, mineral fertilisers, but that plant growth tests show widely varying results. Plant availability in some recycled nutrient products can depend considerably on conditions in the production process, and on levels of iron, aluminium and calcium, in particular of iron. Plant availability will also depend on the physical form of the material, e.g. crystal structure and particle size. Variability also results from the lack of standardisation between testing methods. The authors consider that standard chemical extraction methods (water solubility, NAC neutral ammonium citrate, citric acid, formic acid) do not provide good indications of plant availability. They consider that NAC can dissolve iron and aluminium phosphates (e.g. in sewage sludge) or complex calcium phosphates (eg. Whitlockite) which are poorly plant available. Citric acid P solubility can be affected by calcite or dolomite which bind to citrate ligands. The authors suggest that alternative methods such as sequential fractionation, soil incubation or soil P sink methods should be developed.

“Agronomic performance of P recycling fertilizers and methods to predict it: a review”, S. Kratz, C. Vogel, C. Adam, Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst, 115, pages1–39 (2019) DOI

 

Effectiveness of fertiliser and manure in long term field trial

Data is presented of a 20 year field trial testing eight combinations of mineral fertilisers and composted pig manure applied in Spring (control, manure only, N, NP and NPK with or without manure) on maize and soybean in Liaoning Province, China. Where crops received fertiliser plus manure, this was additive: e.g. P in mineral fertiliser when applied was always c. 23 kgP/ha/y, with additional c. 10 kgP/ha/y when manure was also applied. In this scenario, mineral fertilisers were the principal route to ensure phosphorus budgets and increase soil available P, enabling improved and more reliable crop yield and nutrient use efficiency (NUE). The authors conclude that long term application of mineral fertiliser and manure together considerably increase the conversion of residual fertiliser P (the P not taken up by the crop) to soil available P. However, the data also suggests that fertiliser plus manure resulted in excess P application (total P input 36 vs. P uptake in crops 22 kgP/ha/y) whereas mineral fertiliser corresponded to a nearly balanced P budget (NPK: P input 23, crop offtake 20 kgP/ha/y) and manure only to a P deficit (input 9, offtake 15 kgP/ha/y). In most years, Phosphorus Use Efficiency (PUE) was significantly higher with manure application only (note: this may be the result of the P deficit) but was similar for NPK+manure compared to NPK, despite the P over-application, suggesting that manure does improve overall Phosphorus Use Efficiency.

“Mineral fertilizers with recycled manure boost crop yield and P balance in a long-term field trial”, C. Ning et al., Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 2020 DOI

 

Phosphorus flows in global aquaculture

An assessment of phosphorus flows in global aquaculture and fish harvesting suggests that around 10% of world phosphate production is used in aquaculture: estimate of 2.04 MtP/y used in aquaculture, compared to world P production from phosphate rock of around 20 MtP/y (see ESPP Factsheet). This compares to FAO (2016, p4) estimate that fish (only) accounts for 6.7%of world diet protein. The authors estimate total harvest of P in fish and seafood at 1.1 MtP/y, with around 60% from captured fish and seafood and around 40% from aquaculture production. This means that around 1.6 MtP/y is net lost in aquaculture (input P minus harvested P), mainly to aquatic systems. The authors estimate that the total harvested P in fish and seafood was 0.21 MtP/y in 1950 and the input to aquaculture then only 0.1 mtP/y, so that the overall P budget has changed from net positive to negative. These estimates of P use in aquaculture are calculated by multiplying production of different species by estimated Phosphorus Use Efficiencies, inferred from farm-level data for different species. The result is nearly two times higher than that obtained (2.04 vs 1.11 MtP/y) by multiplying estimated aquaculture farm area by World Fish database nutrient input/surface data. This P input to agriculture includes both P fed directly to the fish or crustaceans (in fish meal or in plant materials used in feed) and also fertilisers (both mineral or organic, such as manures) input to aquaculture systems to grow vegetation to feed fish (but not fertilisers used to grow crops used to make fish feed).

“The shift of phosphorus transfers in global fisheries and aquaculture”, Y. Huang et al., Nature Communications (2020) 11:355 DOI

 

ESPP members

 ESPP members logos 12 3 20

 

 

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews040
Download as PDF

 

Events
European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4)
CRU Phosphates 2020
RAMIRAN 2020

Regulatory
Sweden Enquiry recommends use of sewage sludge on crops
Regulatory status of insect “manure” as fertiliser
Nutrient recycling
ESPP – NNP - DPP phosphorus recovery technology catalogue
Italmatch acquires RecoPhos P4 production technology
AquaGreen pyrolysis of sewage sludge & fish manure

Food systems
Future of food and food production
Towards a radical move away from animal protein?
Sustainable Development in the Food and Beverage Industry
Food waste losses 16% of China’s fertiliser P use

Studies and research
Nutrient balances and recycled nutrients in organic farming
Plant availability of thermochemically recovered phosphorus
Recycling flame retardant boron from insulation to fertiliser
EC scientists conclude benefits of P-recovery
Global map of phosphorus recycling potential
European topsoil maps for P, N, K and C/N

ESPP members

 
Events

European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4)

Registration is now open (on Eventbrite) for the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Vienna, 15-17 June 2020. This 4th ESPC will centre in plenary on business models, company success stories and city and regional actions towards nutrient circularity. Parallel sessions will mix research with application (see below, call for papers). The third day (17th June) will be the 4th European phosphorus R&D day, showcasing R&D into phosphorus recycling and recycled products and new approaches.

Registration: Eventbrite

Full details www.phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

  

CRU Phosphates 2020

The full speaker agenda is now published for the 13th CRU Phosphates Conference, 8-10 March 2020 Paris. This is the world’s leading phosphate industry meeting, with over 400 industry participants from 40 countries annually. Sessions include technical showcases, market outlooks worldwide and by major region, fertiliser regulation update and phosphorus recycling, new developments (biostimulants, crystalline and soluble fertilisers), animal feed phosphates, phosphate chemical processing.  See summary of the 12th CRU Phosphates Conference (Florida, 2019) in ESPP eNews n°33. 10% fee discount for ESPP members.

CRU Phosphates 2020, 8-10 March Paris - https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates     

 

RAMIRAN 2020

Europe’s leading manure and organic resources recycling conference, RAMIRAN, will take place in Cambridge, UK, 14-17 September 2020. The RAMIRAN network was established 25 years ago and the biennial conference attracts some 250 participants. This year’s RAMIRAN will look at “Managing Organic Resources in a Changing Environment”, including nutrient utilisation, soil quality, air and water, best practices, treatment technologies and policy. Abstract submission until 1st March 2019.
www.ramiran2020.org
 

Regulatory

Sweden Enquiry recommends use of sewage sludge on crops

The Sweden Government enquiry into phosphorus recycling and sewage sludge published its conclusions on 17th January 2020. The report recommends that regulation should require at least 60% recycling of phosphorus from sewage works > 20 000 p.e., that specifications should be developed for other organic-carbon containing fertilisers (in particular sewage sludge biochars) and proposes two options concerning use of sewage sludge in agriculture: either (1) a ban with “very few exceptions” (e.g. individual households), including a ban on use of separated urine, or (2) continuing use of “sanitised and quality-assured sludge” with demanding quality requirements (to be defined within 2-3 years) and reevaluation over coming years to decide whether further restrictions or requirements should be implemented. The report strongly recommends option 2, that is continuing use of sewage sludge in agriculture, with demanding quality requirements (in the Swedish text, not in the English summary). In this case, the 60% P-recycling requirement would include sludge use on crops. For both options, the report recommends to ban use of sewage sludge for non-agricultural applications, such as landscaping, where phosphorus is not valorised (such use is currently 2/3 of Sweden’s sewage sludge spreading). The report states that “current research on the spreading of sewage sludge has not yet shown adverse effects on health and the environment … with the quality requirements applied for use in Swedish agriculture” and underlines that sludge use in agriculture enables recycling not only of phosphorus, but also of nitrogen and organic carbon. The report concludes that a complete ban on sewage sludge use is not supported by risk assessment, whereas “there is clear evidence that sludge fertiliser application supplies plant nutrients and humus that agriculture demands”. An update of Sweden’s sewage and sludge regulations is recommended, with a strengthening of the role of the EPA in addressing sewage contaminants at source. It is also recommended that national objectives be developed for recycling of other resources in wastewater (nitrogen, potassium, carbon). The report notes that the market value of potentially recovered phosphorus in Sweden (c. 5 million €/y) is significantly lower than sludge mono-incineration and P-recovery technology costs (10-15 million €/y or higher).

Conclusions report of Sweden Government Inquiry into phosphorus recycling and sewage sludge use in agriculture, including 12-page detailed English summary pages 31-43  - Report of the Inquiry into a non-toxic and circular recycling of phosphorus from sewage sludge “Hållbar slamhantering”, published 17th January 2020

Stockholm Environment Institute workshop on the Inquiry conclusions: 30th January 15h30-17h00

 

Regulatory status of insect “manure” as fertiliser

The European federation of producers of insects for human and animal foods (IPIFF) has published a position paper on the use of insect larvae faeces (“insect frass”) as a fertiliser. In addition to their main outputs (whole insects, proteins, fats), insect farms produce “frass” - a secondary material which has potential to be upcycled as a fertilising product in agriculture. EU frass production in 2019 was circa ten thousand tonnes (of which 80-90% dry matter) forecasted to reach nine million tonnes/year by 2030. Its characteristics vary depending on the insect species and production method (e.g. the substrates used in insect farming). NPK values are similar to compost with values around 4:3:3 (4%N, 1.3%P, 2.5%K). In addition to nutrients, frass can contain bacteria which stimulate plant growth and health. At present, some EU countries authorise the use of insect frass under national fertilisers regulation, with varying requirements for sterilisation. This fragmented and unclear regulatory context is an obstacle to the development of appropriate processing of frass, and so to its commercialisation and the reintroduction of valuable nutrients in agriculture. IPIFF recommends: (1) the development of a specific EU regulatory definition of insect frass and its integration into the EU Fertilising Products Regulation; (2) that the status of insect frass be clearly aligned, across Europe, to standards and requirements for animal manure under the EU Animal By-Products Regulations (ABP); and (3) that an ABP Regulation endpoint be defined for direct use of non-sterilised insect frass on land (criteria on sieving/treatment to ensure absence of live insect larvae and microbiological and chemical safety).
“IPIFF Contribution Paper on the application of insect frass as fertilising product in agriculture”, 19th September 2019 International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed www.ipiff.org
 

Nutrient recycling

ESPP – NNP - DPP phosphorus recovery technology catalogue

A “catalogue” of technologies for P-recovery, particularly targeting operational information on processes today operating full-scale for P-recovery from sewage, is published online by the three nutrient platforms currently operational in Europe (ESPP European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform, DPP German Phosphorus Platform and NNP Netherlands Nutrient Platform). Ten processes for P-recovery from sewage (from sludge or sludge incineration ash), operating today full scale or under construction, are summarised, as well as a further c. 20 processes which concern P-recovery from manure (full scale), nitrogen recovery (full scale) or R&D scale P-recovery from sewage. The catalogue specifies the input materials for each process, output products, fate of iron/aluminium and of heavy metals or other contaminants, a summary of the process steps, current operating status (full-scale or pilot operation at how many sites, capacity and duration of operation) and websites of technology suppliers.

ESPP – DPP – NPP Phosphorus Recovery Technology Catalogue: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

Italmatch acquires RecoPhos P4 production technology

The Italian chemicals group, Italmatch, specialist in phosphorus-based products for fire safety, energy storage applications, water treatment, oil & gas, lubricants and plastics, has acquired (from ICL) the RecoPhos thermal technology (see SCOPE Newsletter n°120) for production of P4 (elemental or “white” phosphorus) from secondary raw materials, in particular sewage sludge incineration ashes. P4 is specifically identified as one of the 27 EU “Critical Raw Materials”,  separately and in addition to “phosphate rock”, because it is essential for a wide range of applications (see SCOPE Newsletter n°123), including fire protection, batteries, water treatment, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals …and because Europe is currently completely dependent on imports (essentially from Vietnam and Kazakhstan). There is today no EU producer of P4. The RecoPhos technology uses electro-magnetically induced heating of a reactor bed consisting of coke or graphite, and should enable P4 production with an improved energy efficiency profile compared to current industrial processes. It also aims to enable phosphorus recovery from ashes containing iron and to allow decentralised production units to be potentially viable. Because of its hazardous characteristics, P4 or its derivatives require very specific competence and organisation for production, handling and transport, and Italmatch has this industrial competence. A pilot RecoPhos plant was tested in Leoben, Austria, in 2015, treating around 10 kg/h of dry input material.

Italmatch press release, 16th January 2020 http://www.italmatch.com/italmatch-chemicals-group-acquires-the-recophos-project-technology/

 

AquaGreen pyrolysis of sewage sludge & fish manure

DANVA, the Danish Water and Wastewater Association, has launched a “PCP” (Pre-Commercial Procurement) project, funded by the Danish Market Development Fund to treat and recycle sewage sludge by use of superheated steam drying and pyrolysis. The technology is developed by the Danish start-up company AquaGreen ApS in corporation with the Danish Technical University (DTU) and Norwegian Akvaplan Niva, funded by the Horizon 2020 Eurostar program. A pilot plant with a capacity of 2.5 tons sewage wet weight sludge per day, at 25% DM, was installed and successfully demonstrated in 2018 at VandCenter Syd A/S, Odense Municipal Waste Water Treatment plant. In 2019, authorisation was given to AquaGreen and Nordlaks Smolten AS to test the system for treatment of fish manure from land based salmon farms in Norway. The dried sludge is pyrolyzed at 650 °C, and the flue gas provides the thermal energy for the superheated steam drying. The resulting biochar is rich on phosphorus (6-8% Vol.) and the plant availability has been proven and documented in field-trials performed by SEGES and green-house trials performed by Copenhagen University, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.

https://www.aquagreen.dk/

 

Food systems

Future of food and food production

A report from the Swiss investment bank UBS gives perspectives for future food production, looking at societal tendencies and industrial opportunities. The bank identifies as key drivers: scarcity (water, land, nutrients …), sustainability, new consumer attitudes, wellness (obesity, health inducing molecules), and digitalisation. Replacement of animal products by plant, algae or cell cultured foodstuffs is expected to develop strongly, for resource, environment and health reasons. ESPP notes that phosphorus will remain essential for all such production, opening opportunities for new recycling routes and efficient use. USB see major opportunities in technologies (e.g. drones) and data management to develop precision farming (connectivity, big data, satellite data …) and reduce food waste (internet of things). Challenges include consumer attitudes (traditional preferences), political defence of existing production systems and consumer attitudes to new products and bio-technologies (e.g. gene editing).

“The food revolution. The future of food and the challenges we face”. UBS Chief Investment Office, July 2019. UBS

“Plant-based protein is disrupting meat markets” UBS Investment Insights, 24 July 2019     

 

Towards a radical move away from animal protein?

A report from an independent thinktank on disruption predicts that non-animal derived proteins will be five times cheaper than animal proteins by 2030, as well as healthier, better tasting and more convenient, leading to a halving of the number of cattle in the USA by 2030 and making the cattle farming industry “all but bankrupt” (disruption of only a third of the industry’s revenues would be sufficient to push it to bankruptcy), leading to a 40-80% fall in farm land prices and a 45% reduction in agriculture’s greenhouse emissions. The key driver will be precision fermentation, enabling micro-organisms to produce almost any organic molecule on demand. Food engineers will then be able to personalise recipes, to develop new products, target consumer tastes or nutrition and health needs. Precision fermentation will be supported by gene sequencing and genetic engineering of micro-organisms, artificial intelligence and robotics, enabling local production. Precision fermentation is already today used to produce e.g. insulin (medicine), human collagen (cosmetics) and artificial sweeteners (food). The report notes that a relatively small substitution can disrupt an existing market (e.g. only 3.3% wet weight of milk is protein) and predicts reductions in the (US) market for beef steak of -30% by 2030, ground beef -70% and milk -90%. The resulting job losses in cattle production and processing (1 million job losses in the USA) would be of a similar order to job creation in precision fermentation. The report  suggests that the fertiliser industry would be negatively impacted by the move away from livestock production (-50% fertiliser consumption predicted). ESPP notes however that this assumes that land is not converted to plant production for food or biofuels/biomaterials. The report suggests that precision fermentation is 10-25x more “feedstock efficient” (presumably covering both energy and nutrients) than animal farming, and notes that it will generate wastewater and spent micro-organism biomass, which it suggests could be recycled as fertiliser.

“Rethinking Food and Agriculture 2020-2030. The Second Domestication of Plants and Animals, the Disruption of the Cow, and the Collapse of Industrial Livestock Farming”, RethinkX, C. Tubb, T. Seba, September 2019, 76 pages.

 

Sustainable Development in the Food and Beverage Industry

ESPP participated at the ENG SDF&B (Sustainable Development in the Food & Beverage Industry) conference, Düsseldorf, 14-15 January 2020, chairing the second day and leading a round table on “The phosphorus challenge” for food and agriculture. Participants at the conference included leading food companies, agri-food suppliers and supermarkets, including Mars, Coca Cola, Nestlé, Brau Union (Heineken), Metro, Migros, Delhaize Group, Tchibo, Bunge, Friesland Campina, HK Scan …) and the conference was sponsored by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Presentations and discussions included innovation replacing animal products (e.g. Oatly, oat based “milk” replacement; Protifarm, food ingredients from insect production, Proveg, non-meat product incubator …); linking technology and data to sustainability enablement; sustainability from farm to fork, food prices and a living wage for farmers; identifying and reducing sustainability risks in supply chains; and the need for cross-industry cooperation and regulation to move the whole market to sustainability progress. Aquaculture was discussed, as an environmentally efficient source of healthy protein, with ongoing development of increasingly efficient, mainly plant based feed recipes (Mowi, Biomar).

http://www.engevents.com/sustainable2020

 

Food waste losses 16% of China’s fertiliser P use

A study estimating the phosphorus footprint of food waste in China estimates that over 83 000 tP/y are contained in at-table (commercial and home) food waste in China, with a total P footprint of over 420 000 tP/y including related crop or livestock production and food processing. This is over 16% of China’s annual consumption of mineral P fertiliser. The study is based on a modelling quantification of food waste, calculated per Chinese region, verified against data from several studies and statistics sources, concluding total at-table food waste of nearly 54 million tonnes/year in China (over 39 kg/person/year). This is then multiplied by “loss factors” for different production and processing systems (cultivated land, animal farming, crop processing …), from other papers by the same author. This may however over estimate animal production losses, because these calculations assume that all phosphorus not transferred into food products is lost, in particular that all manure P is lost and none recycled back to land.

“Food waste and the embedded phosphorus footprint in China”, B. Li et al., Journal of Cleaner Production 252 (2020) 119909 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.119909

 

Studies and research

Nutrient balances and recycled nutrients in organic farming

The EU Horizon 2020 project RELACS (Replacing Contentious Inputs in Organic Farming Systems, or Improving Inputs for Organic Farming) has published preliminary results of a major ongoing study into need and use of nutrients, and of organic farmers’ attitudes to recycled nutrients. The study is based on interviews with a total of 79 organic farmers in seven European countries (Germany, Italy, Estonia, UK, Denmark, Switzerland, Hungary). The farms showed, on average, surpluses for nitrogen (average +28 kgN/ha) but near balance for phosphorus (average -1 kgP/ha) and potassium (average +2 kgK/ha),  However, nutrient balances varied widely between farms (e.g. -15 to +40 kgP/ha for phosphorus). Farms with externally sourced nitrogen inputs tended to show surpluses of all three nutrients, while increasing reliance on biological nitrogen fixation induced more negative budgets of P and K. Nearly all farmers interviewed were open to using recycled fertilisers, including from urban waste streams, in order to close the nutrient cycle. Yet many farmers raised concerns about contaminants, in particular micro-plastics, as well as about consumer acceptance of use of sewage-derived products.
Jakob Magid, Copenhagen University, one of the RELACS project partners, has commented to SEGES : RELACS’ preliminary data suggests that organic farms relying mainly on nitrogen inputs from plants, with few or no external inputs, have a much lower output productivity than farms with a higher ratio of external inputs. Around half of the organic farms examined in RELACS had outputs of less or much less than 60 kgN/ha in their produce, corresponding to c. 3 tons grain per hectare. Most of the 71 farms examined had few or no animals, and their output was estimated by using farmgate balances of nitrogen in various products or manure. The farms that had higher outputs used substantial amounts of different inputs. The farms that rely heavily on biological nitrogen fixation tended to use few or no external inputs at all, which could be due to low accessibility, and limited economy. If organic farmers want to be able to supply a much larger part of the future European market with organic products, they will have to use the organic farmland as efficiently as possible, Jakob Magid says.

“Reducing the use of external fertilisers in organic agriculture”, 11th July 2019, RELACS (Replacing Contentious Inputs in Organic Farming Systems, or Improving Inputs for Organic Farming) www.relacs-project.eu

 

Plant availability of thermochemically recovered phosphorus

Greenhouse container trials tested the plant availability of phosphorus in thermochemically treated sewage sludge: 170 kg soil, 1 ½ years, barley, spinach, rye grass, maize. The sludge was from a sewage works using iron salts for chemical P-removal, after anaerobic digestion. It was first dried to >93% DM, then pyrolyzed at 550°C (Pyreg) and finally reacted at 950°C with a reducing agent (lignite) and sodium sulphate or chloride (HCl) + sodium sulphate. The resulting ash contained 10-11%P and around 15% iron (Fe), 10% aluminium (Al), 12% calcium (Ca) and 13-14% magnesium (Mg). NAC phosphorus solubility was over 93% for the sewage sludge, dropping to 88% after pyrolysis and to 63 or 87% after the thermochemical treatment (the higher solubility was when chloride was added in the process). Dry matter yield in the container trials was significantly lower than for triple super phosphate for the pyrolyzed sludge and thermochemical ash for both barley and rape and marginally lower for rye grass (for spinach there were no significant differences from the control: no added P). The authors suggest that the container-scale crop trials can simulate real field conditions (significant root development) and that the results show “adequate” long-term plant availability of P in the thermochemical ash materials, but low short-term plant P availability. They suggest that this is because the thermochemical ash contains calcium sodium phosphate and calcium magnesium sodium phosphate (CaNaPO4 and Ca13Mg5Na18(PO4)18.

“Medium-scale Plant Experiment of Sewage Sludge- based Phosphorus Fertilizers from Large-scale Thermal Processing”, D. Steckenmesser, C. Vogel & D. Steffens, Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 2019.

 

Recycling flame retardant boron from insulation to fertiliser

A R&D trial tested pyrolysed (600°C, biochar) produced from boric acid flame retardant treated cellulosic insulation material (produced from recycled paper, Isocell Austria) as a boron fertiliser in pot trials with rape and sunflower. Such boron-treated flame retardant cellulose can be recycled as building insulation material only a few times because of deterioration in fibre length. The pyrolysis reduces the solubility of the boric acid, which is important because boron is a necessary micronutrient for plants, but is toxic if released too rapidly. Challenges to possible industrial implementation include collection of spent insulation material without contamination, PAH (naphthalene) levels in the biochar and regulatory status of the product (end-of-waste, fertiliser authorisation).

“Functional recycling of biobased, borate-stabilized insulation materials as B fertilizer”, O. Duboc, J. Santner et al., Environ. Sci. Technol 2019, 53, 24, 14620-14629, 2019

 

EC scientists conclude benefits of P-recovery

A study by three European Commission (JRC) scientists concludes that environment and health impacts of phosphorus recycling are “often lower” than for phosphate rock derived fertilisers, even without taking into account phosphate rock reserve depletion. The study models impacts of struvite recovery from biological P-removal sewage treatment, direct use of poultry litter incineration ash as fertiliser, pyrolysis of pig manure, and thermochemical treatment of sewage sludge or meat and bone meal, comparing impacts per kg bioavailable P compared to fertilisers produced from phosphate rock (via the “wet acid” route). The study assumes that, in regions with high livestock or population density, the secondary materials are currently either not recycled (co-incineration) or are used inefficiently (application up to Nitrates Vulnerable Zone maximum levels for manure nitrogen, resulting in over-application of phosphorus): phosphorus recycling is estimated to substitute more than twice as much phosphate rock in high density compared to low density regions (where the secondary materials are assumed to be spread appropriately on farmland as fertilising materials). This assumption “improves” results for regions of high livestock/population density, because the current management routes are thus calculated to have higher emissions and poorer use of P (i.e. more “burdens” in life cycle analysis) than if current use is assumed to be appropriate use on agricultural land. Consequently, their estimated “net” emissions (P-recycling minus current disposal route) are improved. With this calculation, most of the P-recycling materials/routes considered show lower overall emissions to air, water and/or soil than production and use of phosphate rock derived fertiliser. Overall the authors conclude that net societal costs for P-recycling products, for the materials/routes and scenarios considered, are 81%, 50% and 10% lower for sewage sludge, manure and meat and bone meal, compared to use of phosphate rock derived fertilisers (even without accounting for the societal benefits of reducing phosphate rock reserve depletion).

“Environmental and health co-benefits for advanced phosphorus recovery”, D. Tonini, H. Saveyn, D. Huygens, European Commission JRC Seville, Nature Sustainability, vol. 2, Nov. 2019, 1051-1061

 

Global map of phosphorus recycling potential

As an outcome of the P-RCN (Phosphorus Research Coordination Network, see ESPP Scope Newsletter n°125), scientists have mapped across the world, on a c. 18x11 km grid scale, livestock density and human population, so identifying regions with significant local secondary phosphorus. These are then compared to likely crop fertiliser demand, based on cropland (local % land use under crops) and national phosphorus import and fertiliser use tendencies, to identify zones with phosphorus recycling potential. The modelling concludes that most zones with high manure or sewage phosphorus, in India, China, South East Asia, Europe, North and South America, are close to cropland likely to have significant phosphorus demand. The study aims to enable identification, at a global scale of “hotspots” for phosphorus recycling potential.

“Global Opportunities to Increase Agricultural Independence Through Phosphorus Recycling” Earth's Future, 7, 370–383., 2019

 

European topsoil maps for P, N, K and C/N

European Commission (JRC) scientists (with University of Basel) have published maps of topsoil properties for Europe, presenting phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, carbon/nitrogen ratio, pH and cation exchange capacity (CEC), an output of the EU FP7 RECARE project. The maps are based on over 20 000 soil sample tests, from 2009 and 2012 combined with 270 000 data points for land use and land cover and modelling (Gaussian Process Regression), leading to mapping with 250m resolution. Prediction was highest for C/N (R2>0.9) and reasonable for the other properties (R2>0.6) except CEC (R2=0.35). The authors conclude that land use seems to be the main driver for topsoil phosphorus levels, with fertiliser use leading to higher levels in agricultural areas, whereas soil nitrogen is dependent on soil organic carbon, vegetation, climate and soil texture. The results do not aim to replace local monitoring data, but to provide a European level overview. Maps for phosphorus and nitrogen are reproduced below with permission – see the cited publication for the other maps and full details.

“Mapping LUCAS topsoil chemical properties at European scale using Gaussian process regression”, C. Ballabio, P. Panagos et al., Geoderma 355 (2019) 113912

See maps for nitrogen and phosphorus in a published paper or pdf version of this ESPP eNews.

 
 

ESPP members 

 

ESPP members

 

 

 

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

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews039
Download as PDF

 

Events
European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4)
CRU Phosphates 2020
RAMIRAN 2020

Calls for papers
Call for texts: phosphorus stewardship and climate change

Public consultations
EU consultation on new Circular Economy policy
EU consultation on new “Soil Health & Food”

Regulatory
EU Green Deal
EU Water Framework Directive objectives confirmed
EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive assessment conclusions
Potential for reducing phosphorus pollution in Europe
Food, Drink & Milk BREF published

Nutrient recycling
ICL phosphate recycling to fertiliser
Atria Baltic Sea Commitment on sustainable livestock
Carbon and nitrogen capture
Microalgae from wastewater treatment as organic fertiliser
H2020 water innovation workshop recommendations on nutrient recycling
Experimental production of P4 (elemental P) from phosphoric acid
Studies and research
European Environment Agency calls for end of growth
Financing the circular economy
Nutrients, ocean deoxygenation and climate change
Scientists’ call for action on nitrogen
Review of possible nutrient recovery technologies

 

 

Events


European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4)

Registration is now open (on Eventbrite) for the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Vienna, 15-17 June 2020. This 4th ESPC will centre in plenary on business models, company success stories and city and regional actions towards nutrient circularity. Parallel sessions will mix research with application (see below, call for papers). The third day (17th June) will be the 4th European phosphorus R&D day, showcasing R&D into phosphorus recycling and recycled products and new approaches.
Deadline for submission of presentations, success stories, posters is extended to 31st January 2020 (as several authors requested more time). Fifty presentations are already registered, but some opportunities remain.
Hotels are beginning to fill up in Vienna. Register and book now to get better prices!

Registration: Eventbrite

Full details www.phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

CRU Phosphates 2020

Registration is now open for the 13th CRU Phosphates Conference, 8-10 March 2020 Paris. This is the world’s leading phosphate industry meeting, with over 400 industry participants from 40 countries expected, covering supply, market trends and industry processes and technologies for phosphate rock, fertilisers, animal feed and industrial phosphorus applications. The conference includes outlook presentations by executives of the world’s leading phosphates companies; supply, demand and market trends; new phosphate processing technologies and operating experience. See summary of the 12th CRU Phosphates Conference (Florida, 2019) in ESPP eNews n°33. 10% registration fee discount for ESPP members.

CRU Phosphates 2020, 8-10 March Paris - https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates

                                       

RAMIRAN 2020

Europe’s leading manure and organic resources recycling conference, RAMIRAN, will take place in Cambridge, UK, 14-17 September 2020. The RAMIRAN network was established 25 years ago and the biennial conference attracts some 250 participants. This year’s RAMIRAN will look at “Managing Organic Resources in a Changing Environment”, including nutrient utilisation, soil quality, air and water, best practices, treatment technologies and policy. Abstract submission until 1st March 2019.
www.ramiran2020.org
 
See more upcoming events at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/upcoming-events
 

Calls for papers

 

Call for texts: phosphorus stewardship and climate change

ESPP (European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform) and the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance (North America) are preparing a special SCOPE Newsletter edition on “Nutrients and Climate Change”. This will consist of selected short texts presenting expert perspectives on how climate change will impact nutrient emissions and eutrophication as well as actions to mitigate this. Proposed texts are invited from researchers, companies, stakeholders and any interested party. Around twenty texts will be selected for publication by an editorial committee chaired by Jessica Stubenrauch, Beatrice Garske (FNK Leipzig & University of Rostock), Anders Nättorp (FHNW Switzerland) and Jim Elser (University of Montana). The SCOPE Newsletter is circulated worldwide to 41 000 companies, stakeholders, regulators and media interested in nutrient management, with a detected opening rate of 12-14%, and is published on the ESPP website www.phosphorusplatform.eu  Submit your text to be included!

Send us your ideas for action for on nutrients and climate change to appear with the world’s leading experts.
Maximum 600 words. Deadline 29/2/2020 latest.
Call details and instructions here: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/callfortexts

 

Public consultations


EU consultation on new Circular Economy policy

The European Commission has opened a public consultation, to 20th January 2020, on the Roadmap for a New Circular Economy Action Plan. The proposed Roadmap underlines the economic potential of the Circular Economy, which employs 4 million people with a 6% increase since 2012. Reducing dependency on raw materials, and reducing waste are cited as key objectives, in particular reducing landfill and incineration of municipal waste. Objectives indicated include developing the market for recycled materials, developing skills and investments, improving legal certainty. Actions to be considered include supporting design for recycling and preventing environmentally harmful products, regulating green claims and information on sustainability. The Roadmap cites as priority sectors “opportunities for closing loops for biological materials”, textiles, construction, electronics, plastics and packaging.

EU public consultation on the Roadmap for a New Circular Economy Action Plant, open to 20th January 2020

https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/initiatives/ares-2019-7907872

 

EU consultation on new “Soil Health & Food”

The EU has opened a public survey, to 19th January 2020, on the Horizon Europe ‘Mission’ on “Soil Health and Food”. This consultation targets mainly individuals or organisations for a simple opinion (around 15 rapid-to-answer questions) on what are key issues around soil health. ESPP will submit input underlining the importance of nutrients and of soil carbon, and the links between soil quality and nutritional value and safety of food.

EU survey on “Soil Health and Food” Horizon Europe Mission, open to 19th January 2020

https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/mission-soil-health-and-food 

 

Regulatory


EU Green Deal

The new European Commission published its “Green Deal” on 11th December 2019, a 24-page outline of political objectives plus a 4-page “Roadmap” (list of policy actions with dates). The Green Deal is now submitted to the European Parliament and Council (Member States). Key elements are an objective of zero net greenhouse emissions by 2050, implemented by a European Climate Law, a resource-efficient economy and a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan. The Green Deal also aims for “zero pollution”, restoring biodiversity, sustainable mobility and “farm to fork: fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system”. A Climate Pact will be launched in March 2020 to engage citizens and give them a voice. A “clean circular economy” is one of the seven themes of the Green Deal, with a new EU “circular economy action plan” for March 2020. This may include “legal requirements to boost the market for secondary raw materials, with mandatory recycled content” and an “EU model for separate waste collection”. Nutrients are not, however, in the priority sectors listed (packaging, plastics, batteries, vehicles, construction materials, electronics, textiles). Nutrient management and the circular economy are however cited as an objective of the “farm to fork” objectives, where the roadmap includes “Measures, including legislative, to significantly reduce the use and risk of … fertilisers” (2020-2021). The objective to “reduce pollution from excess nutrients” is also cited under the zero pollution objective (action: zero pollution for water, air and soil: 2021).

European Commission press release, IP/19/6691, 11th December 2019 “The European Green Deal sets out how to make Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050, boosting the economy, improving people's health and quality of life, caring for nature, and leaving no one behind”

European Commission Communication Brussels, COM(2019) 640 final, 11th December 2019 “The European Green Deal” (28 pages)

 

EU Water Framework Directive objectives confirmed

The European Commission has published (10th December 2019) the “Fitness Check” of the EU Water Framework Directive (with the Environmental Quality Standards, Groundwater and Floods Directives). The Commission’s conclusions maintain and confirm the Water Framework Directive’s objectives, in particular the 2027 deadline, by when Member States must ensure that all water bodies (lakes, rivers and groundwater) achieve ecological quality standards (“good” status). These conclusions have been welcomed with relief by NGOs and scientists, who had feared that the WFD deadlines might be delayed, and are coherent with the ambitious objectives of the new European Commission’s “Green Deal”. The public enquiry for this Fitness Check received an exceptionally high 370 000 responses. The Commission underlines that no substantial progress has been made over recent years in water bodies’ overall quality status, and that only half of water bodies had achieved good quality by 2015. The Commission notes that achieving quality objectives will requires reducing pressures, restoration (e.g. morphological), full implementation of the Nitrates Directive and of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive and better integration of action in agriculture and transport. Diffuse pollution of nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen) from agriculture are identified as a major challenge: “Around 38% of the EU’s surface water bodies are under pressure from diffuse pollution (of which agricultural production is a major source (25%))”. Failure to achieve the WFD’s objectives is considered to be due to insufficient funding, slow Member State implementation and insufficient integration of environment into other sectoral policies. Actions to address these should include working on best practices for cost-recovery, reduction of pollutants at source and green infrastructure.

SWD(2019) 440 European Commission summary of the Fitness Check of the Water Framework Directive (and other Directives) 10th December 2019 (4 pages)

SWD(2019)439  Water Fitness Check, full 10th December 2019 (184 pages)

 

EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive assessment conclusions

The European Commission has published conclusions of the “Assessment” of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD 1991/271), an assessment carried out independently from the water policy REFIT (see above) and based on an in-depth JRC and OECD study and specific public consultations. The UWWTD assessment concludes that the Directive has been effective, largely because of the “clarity and simplicity of its requirements”, that benefits outweigh costs, that administrative costs are negligible compared to costs and benefits, that it is coherent with other water policy and that there is widespread recognition that the Directive is still needed and that withdrawing it would have negative impacts. The Directive is estimated to have been successful in reducing pollution, with wastewater BOD (biochemical oxygen demand), nitrogen and phosphorus reduced by 61%, 32% and 44% from 1990 to 2014. However, full compliance is still not achieved in a number of Member States: full compliance for phosphorus would reduce current total emissions to surface waters by over 13.5%. A further 250 billion € needs to spent in the EU to 2030 to maintain and achieve full UWWTD compliance. Nonetheless, the Directive is assessed to be cost effective, with total EU annual capital and operating costs at 18 bn€/y compared to benefits or nearly 30 bn€/y. Challenges which should be assessed are identified as: improving cost-recovery (water tariffs), better collection and treatment of stormwater overflows and urban runoff, emerging contaminants (pharmaceuticals, microplastics), more coherent definition of eutrophication ‘Sensitive Areas’ by Member States, Circular Economy potentials (control at source of pollutants to facilitate agricultural use of sludge and water reuse) and improving treatment wastewater from smaller agglomerations and non-connected households (these place significant pressure on over 10% of Europe’s water bodies). The assessment concludes that the Directive has led to innovation so that today eight of the world’s top fifteen water businesses are EU-based.

“Evaluation of the Council Directive 91/271/EEC of 21 May 1991, concerning urban waste-water Treatment”, SWD(2019) 700 final, 13th December 2019 (186 pages)

 

Potential for reducing phosphorus pollution in Europe

The JRC study (Pistocchi et al. 2019) accompanying the European Commission’s assessment of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD), see above, provides an estimate (fig. 67, p86) of reductions in loads to the environment of phosphorus, nitrogen, BOD and coliforms which would result from full enforcement of the UWWT Directive. For phosphorus, this avoidable load is estimated to be just over 50 million p.e. (person equivalent), broken down as 20 M p.e. from non compliant agglomerations, around 15 M from small agglomerations and scattered dwellings, around 10 M from combined storm overflows (CSOs) and around 5 M p.e. from urban runoff. It is emphasised that the UWWTD only addresses loads from municipal wastewater. Estimates are given (from Vigiak 2019) for total 2019 loads of BOD to EU water bodies, suggesting 34% from livestock, 31% from sewage works and scattered dwellings and 20% from urban runoff (rest: industry, forestry). A comparable estimate is not provided for phosphorus or nitrogen.

“Water quality in Europe. Effects of the urban wastewater treatment directive: a retrospective and scenario analysis of Dir. 91/271/EEC”, Pistocchi et al. (JRC), 2019, study

“Predicting biochemical oxygen demand in European freshwater bodies”, Vigiak et al. (JRC), Science of The Total Environment, vol. 666, pp. 1089-1105, 2019

 

Food, Drink & Milk BREF published

The finalised BAT BREF for the “Food, Drink and Milk” industries (FDM) has now been published on the EU JRC website. Under the Industrial Emissions Directive, the BAT specifications in this document now become obligatory for all concerned FDM production sites. During the preparation discussions, ESPP underlined the importance of phosphorus stewardship, see ESPP eNews n°28. Under 17.1.6 (Resource efficiency) BAT 10, it is specified that “Phosphorus recovery as struvite” is BAT for “waste water streams with … high total phosphorus content (e.g. above 50 mg/l) and a significant flow”. Other BAT techniques indicated are anaerobic digestion, appropriate use of residues in animal feed, appropriate use of wastewater in agriculture to valorise nutrients and/or water.

BAT BREF for the “Food, Drink and Milk” industries (FDM) 2019  

 

Nutrient recycling

ICL phosphate recycling to fertiliser

ICL Fertilizers, Amsterdam, has published a video presenting the new installations enabling use of sewage sludge incineration ash and bone meal ash as input materials for phosphate mineral fertiliser production. The phosphate recycling unit includes three new silos and input systems, enabling mixing of the ashes with phosphate rock in the chemical reaction phase with sulfuric and phosphoric acid, in the factory’s existing 550 000 t/y phosphate fertiliser production process. As well as reducing dependency on non-renewable phosphate rock resources, recycling of secondary phosphate-containing materials enables reduced transport and so reduced carbon footprint. ICL states as its objectives to be a frontrunner in phosphate recycling, with the ultimate goal of reaching a fully closed phosphorus loop.

ICL P-recycling video, 3’20’’ YouTube

 

Atria Baltic Sea Commitment on sustainable livestock

Atria, Finland, is a leading Nordic food company, with nearly 5 000 staff and a range of fresh and processed meat products. The company, with its A-Rehu contract farmers and contract producers, aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. Atria has now also made a five year Commitment with the Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG) as part of its sustainability and circular economy objectives. The Commitment aims to reduce the environmental impact of livestock production by, e.g. optimisation of feeding, recycling of food industry by-products as feed, nutrient recycling. Cooperation with arable farmers supplying animal feeds will aim to improve manure application and crop rotation and to increase land use efficiency and domestic protein crop production (to reduce the carbon footprint of imported soya). Conservation agriculture and other practices will be developed to improve soil health and carbon sequestration, by training of Atria’s own experts, sharing of best practices and communication of research results.

Press release “Atria and BSAG to cooperate”, 17 December 2019

 

Carbon and nitrogen capture

The benefits for soil, plant and soil microbes of an organic fertilising material produced by carbon and nitrogen capture technology were tested. The CCU (carbon capture and utilisation) technology developed by CCm is presented in ESPP’s SCOPE Newsletter n°134. Ammonia solution (recycling of nitrogen by stripping from e.g. digesters) is reacted with calcium nitrate, then with CO2 and a secondary organic (cellulosic substrate), producing calcium carbonate which acts as a binder, (as well as being a plant nutrient) enabling production of pellets containing nitrogen and organic carbon. The resulting product was tested using two different soils (peat compost, mineral soil), measuring soil characteristics, plant growth (30 day pot trials with wheat with CCm product dosed at 0 – 7 g/l soil) and soil microbial development (after soil sterilisation). Results showed that soil water retention was doubled in the peat compost with 25g CCm/l soil and soil matric potential was significantly improved (soil plant water availability: the force with which water is held by the soil matrix, as measured by a tensiometer). Wheat plant biomass showed c. 40% increase at 3 gCCm/l-soil (statistically significant), but with not such a large increase at 6 g/l (but still higher than without CCm): this is probably related to the nitrogen content of the CCm and possibly other nutrients (in the recycled organic substrate) as well as to improved soil properties. The CCm process shows interesting potential to valorize to soil both carbon and nutrients in organic wastes, whilst fixing further atmospheric nitrogen and providing a soil sink for industrial CO2.

“Sustainable soil improvement and water use in agriculture: CCU enabling technologies afford an innovative approach”, J. Lake et al., Journal of CO₂ Utilization 32 (2019) 21–30

 

Microalgae from wastewater treatment as organic fertiliser

Microalgae biomass of two different origins, after simple drying, was tested as an organic fertiliser for container-grown tomatoes in a greenhouse test (3 months), looking at tomato plant growth, fruit harvest quantity and quality. The microalgae biomass came from (a) flocs harvested from an outdoor raceway pond operated for batch treatment of wastewater from a freshwater fish cultivation aquaculture system and (b) production in outdoor photoreactors using marine water and flue gas CO2 and residual heat from landfill biogas combustion The dried microalgae biomass contained 0.6 and 1.3 %P (a and b), 2.4 and 8% N, 0.2 and 1.4 %K, 20 and 0.2% calcium and various microelements. Fertiliser effectiveness was compared to a liquid inorganic fertiliser adapted to tomatoes and a blend of two solid organic commercial fertilisers (Frayssinet, France) with potassium, magnesium and sulphate added to ensure comparable macronutrient ratios. The microalgae were applied assuming a 33% N mineralisation rate. The four treatments gave similar plant growth, but a lower fruit yield (wet weight) with the organic fertiliser, and very much lower still (< 50%) with the microalgae. Tomato quality (sugar and carotenoid content) were significantly higher with the organic fertiliser and the microalgae. The authors suggest that the significantly lower tomato productivity may be related to increased salinity with the organic fertilisers and microalgae.

“The use of microalgae as a high-value organic slow-release fertilizer results in tomatoes with increased carotenoid and sugar levels”, J. Coppens, J Appl Phycol 2015

 

H2020 water innovation workshop recommendations on nutrient recycling

A workshop on water innovation, organised by four Horizon 2020 projects (SMART-Plant, nextGen, Hydrousa and Project-O) and the European Commission (EASME), see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°132, discussed opportunities and challenges for resource recycling from wastewater. The workshop agreed the following recommendations to further nutrient recovery and recycling: promote a positive image for recycling nutrients; need for stable regulatory support; importance of networking of competence, platforms and data benchmarking; difficulties posed by disparate implementation of End-of-Waste in different Member States and regions. The workshop recommended to promote and support nutrient recycling in Horizon Europe, and to develop better coordination of End-of-Waste, Water Policy and Circular Economy policies between Member States.

Report. Post-Conference workshop @IWARR2019. “H2020 Water Innovations for Sustainable Impacts in Industries and Utilities”, SMART-Plant website.

 

Experimental production of P4 (elemental P) from phosphoric acid

A laboratory-scale study in Japan suggests that elemental phosphorus (P4, also known as “white” or “yellow phosphorus”) can possibly be produced from phosphoric acid using less energy than production directly from phosphate rock. Existing technologies are estimated to consume around 1 500 kWh electricity per tonne P4 produced, operating at around 1400°C. A 32 mm internal diameter, 1.2 m high quartz reactor furnace, heated electrically, was tested, mixing phosphoric acid with activated carbon as substrate (P-source and reducing agent). The furnace was heated to 1000°C in the activated carbon (reducing) zone, with a second reaction zone at 700°C. The authors suggest that phosphoric acid recovered from secondary materials, for example phosphoric acid recovered from steel slag, for which several experimental studies have been published in Japan (see e.g. Iwama et al. 2019).

“Carbothermic Reduction of Phosphoric Acid Extracted from Dephosphorization Slags to Produce Yellow Phosphorus”, R. Yoshida et al., International Journal of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, Vol:13, No:11, 2019

“Extraction of Phosphorus and Recovery of Phosphate from Steelmaking Slag by Selective Leaching”, T. Iwama et al., ISIJ, 2019

 
 

Studies and research


European Environment Agency calls for end of growth

The EEA (European Environment Agency) “State of the Environment 2020” report says “change of direction (is) urgently needed to face climate change challenges, reverse degradation and ensure future prosperity” and that “Europe will not achieve its sustainability vision … by continuing to promote economic growth and seeking to manage the environmental and social impacts”. The new European Commission Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, responded that the EU needed an urgent paradigm shift, and the new Environment Commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevicius, indicated that priorities are biodiversity, the circular economy and zero pollution. The EEA report points to phosphorus and nitrogen cycles as both exceeding Planetary Boundaries, underlining that diffuse emissions of both P and N to water remain a problem (62% of EU ecosystems are exposed to levels of nitrogen beyond safe tolerance) and that this requires more coherent policies for agriculture, transport, industry and waste water treatment, including a wider food system perspective

See: ENDS 4/12/2019 and EEA “State of the Environment 2020”

 

Financing the circular economy

The European Commission has published an Expert Group report on circular economy (CE) financing, concluding that risk, and perception and assessment of risk, are the main challenge to finance of CE projects. The report develops recommendations for financial institutions, for project promoters and for policy makers. These are based on the following general conclusions: level playing field, value chain collaboration and participation of end-users, economic integration of externality costs and product longevity, financing knowledge and innovative first-movers. Recommendations to the financial sector are to define definitions, taxonomy and tools to measure circularity, risk analysis of linear models, financial risk sharing and increasing awareness. Project promoters should identify circular sources of revenues, collaborate with other circular economy communities, disclose environmental and social benefits and develop staff training and knowledge. Recommendations to financial decision makers are to develop reporting standards for risks of linear business models, define definitions and taxonomy of circularity, establish technical and financial advisory services to support circular economy projects and to prioritise circular economy projects within the InvestEU fund. Recommendations to policy makers are to create a framework favorable to and facilitate the circular economy, including: define metrics, develop national and regional circular economy strategies linked to other policies, set CE targets, create collaborative platforms, remove subsidies to linear systems, implement EPR extended producer responsibility, fix sunset dates for landfill, provide fiscal incentives, and create markets via public procurement.

“Accelerating the transition to the circular economy. Improving access to finance for circular economy projects”, European Commission, DG Research and Innovation,