The importance of sustainable phosphorus management in the circular economy (CE) model: The Polish case study

Author: Marzena Smol

Type of publication: Article peer review

In the transition to the circular economy (CE) model, the sustainable management of raw materials plays a key role in the whole value chain. One of the most important critical raw materials (CRM) for the European economy is Phosphorus (P), which cannot be replaced by any other element. This paper presents the current P management structure in Poland taking into account the sources of P, its consumption and recycling. At present, no phosphates are produced in Poland and the demand for P-bearing raw materials is satisfied entirely by imports. There is high potential for recovery of P from selected secondary sources due to an increase in the generation of P-rich waste, such as municipal and industrial sludges (947.2 thous. Mg of dry solid waste in 2016), sewage sludge ash (45 thous.Mg /year) or biomass ash (4.2 million Mg/year); however, P recycling is not commonly undertaken in Poland. In order to transfer the Polish economy to the CE model, the government is working on strategies and programmes that take into account the sustainable management of raw materials. The most promising sources of P are municipal and industrial wastewater, sewage sludge and sewage sludge ash and, therefore, basic legal recommendations for nutrient recovery in the wastewater sector were proposed by Polish organisations dealing with environmental concerns. The paper also presents the basic action that is recommended to be undertaken with the objective of improving the sustainable management of this CRM in the Polish economy.

Smol. M. 2019. The importance of sustainable phosphorus management in the circular economy (CE) model: the Polish case study. Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management 21 (2): 227–238.
DOI 10.1007/s10163-018-0794-6