Urgent action needed on phosphorus, urges CIWEM
The statement outlines the main issues relating to the world’s supply of useable phosphate and highlights the need for urgent action to achieve its recovery to improve food security and reduce geopolitical risk.
Phosphate is essential for all living cells; it is a part of all DNA and cells’ energy cycles. It is also the least abundant of the major plant nutrients. For phosphate there can be neither substitute nor replacement.
We rely on the mining of inorganic phosphates for agriculture and industry. This would not be an issue if there were abundant supplies, but that is far from the case.
At the present rate of extraction, today’s phosphate mines will be exhausted by the end of the 21st century and estimates of future reserves range from 200 to 400 years (at the current rate of extraction). China and the USA have both tried to implement measures to reduce exports of phosphate as they have already realised its strategic importance.
However whilst the future may sound bleak, wastewater treatment could recover 95% of the phosphate from urban wastewater. CIWEM believes land application of suitably treated biosolids (sewage sludge) is invariably the best way to conserve and recycle the phosphate it contains. Currently only 20% of the phosphate in urban wastewater in the EU is recycled. In order to increase this, CIWEM calls on all governments to follow the examples of Sweden and Germany and make phosphate recovery from urban wastewater a legal requirement.
“Phosphorus is scarce and resources are being depleted rapidly. To date, attention has focussed on removing phosphate from wastewater streams to prevent the eutrophication of waters" said Nick Reeves, CIWEM's Executive Director.
"But phosphate is of huge strategic value over the longer term and we must also act to recover phosphate from waste-streams for use. The economics of extensive phosphate recovery from wastewater would be quite favourable if we viewed phosphorus as a resource, rather than the conventional approach of treating it as a pollutant in the environment, and mining it in mineral form to fertilise our crops.”
No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment
Please enter your name
Please enter your comment
Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.
Some error on your process.Please try one more time.
GM crops are good for the economy and can reduce the amount of pesticides u...
Demand from smaller European markets has helped drive strong growth for UK ...
A lack of engineers, not enough people promoting the land-based industries ...
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss is launching the National Pollinator ...
Agricultural specialists have welcomed a potential financial boost for youn...
As retailers continue to participate in a highly competitive race to the bo...
New farm business income data from Defra, which focus on income from March ...
Agriculture has remained one of the industries in which workers are most li...
Prime arable land in the UK has seen a substantial year-on-year growth in p...