Nutrient recycling from wastewater: developing regional strategy

Eutrophication, caused by excessive nutrients accumulated in the water, persistently remains the major threat to the Baltic Sea marine environment. However, while phosphorus is a recognized pollutant for the Baltic Sea region, it is also part of many organic molecules and is vital and irreplaceable for all lifeforms.

With phosphorus being an essential and limited resource, its demand and production in the world are steadily increasing as the population grows. This trend influences the need to transform the practices of managing phosphorus from linear to circular in order to retain the safety of our economy and food and become a sustainable society.

Reuse and recovery of phosphorus from municipal and industrial wastewater is one of the topics developed in the BSR WATER platform, which approaches waste- and stormwater management processes in a comprehensive and complex way. One of the main outputs of the BSR WATER is the “Pallet of solutions for nutrient recycling in the Baltic Sea region”, foreseen as an integral part of the HELCOM Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy.

Collecting recent knowledge and practice

The Pallet of solutions, developed jointly by the platform partners HELCOM and University of Tartu, is a compilation of most recent knowledge and practice on advanced and efficient solutions to recycle nutrients, and in particular phosphorus from wastewater. It includes overview of the global situation in nutrient production and use, main pathways of nutrients transportation to wastewater, flow schemes of nutrients in the wastewater treatment plant and technologies for integrating nutrient recycling from either liquid or sludge matrices into the treatment process.

Read more about the Pallet of solutions for nutrient recycling

Streaming knowledge into the Strategy

The main nutrient flows are observed in agriculture and wastewater management sectors. HELCOM Recommendation 28E/5 sets strict requirements for nutrients removal from wastewater. HELCOM countries have already implemented massive investment programs on improvement of wastewater sector which resulted in more than halving of nutrient input from point sources in the last two decades. Contributing greatly to the nutrient input reduction, it resulted in annual generation of more than 3 million tons of phosphorus reach sludge which is considered as a waste. The Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy, which development was committed by the HELCOM Ministerial Declaration 2018, is intended to manifest the vision and objectives of sustainable and safe utilization of regionally available nutrients for food production and development of green areas in the region.

Read more about the Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy

Discussion with experts

Would you like to discuss more? Meet us at the EUSBSR Annual Forum in Turku: BSR WATER platform, together with SuMaNu platform organise a workshop "Unlocking the potential of nutrient recycling in the Baltic Sea Region".

Online exchange of experience is always open at our Baltic Smart Water Hub: learn and connect for discussions with experts, networking and promotion of own practices and solutions!

Nutrient recycling from sludge