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The RISE Foundation launched a study on Nutrient Recovery and Reuse (NRR) in European agriculture. A review of the issues, opportunities, and actions. The report makes a thorough revision of the use of nitrogen and phosphorus in European agriculture and assesses the scope for increased nutrient recovery and reuse and the actions needed to make it possible.

The Foundation's Chairman, and former European Commissioner for Science and Research and the Environment, Janez Potocnik said that "In the coming years we will have to change the current resource intensive economic model to address global and European food and environmental security. The growing leakage of nutrients into the environment is an unwanted consequence of our current system that deserves immediate attention."

More information and the report can be found at

ESPP (European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform) SCOPE Newsletter ( see on ) is a recognised source of synthetic information about nutrient management and recycling, circulated to c. 45 000 emails* (companies, scientists, decision makers …). Published 8-10 issues per year, with over 100 back-numbers online, it has become the reference source of information on phosphorus management. * 5 – 6 000 identified opens for each Newsletter, plus online reading …

Opportunity for recognition, visibility and networking

ESPP is looking for R&D institutes, projects or other experts interested in providing a regular content input (articles) for SCOPE Newsletter, in exchange for:

  • (in-kind) partnership of the European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform: logo on ESPP publications, website home page and events; partner webpage on ; participation in ESPP network and projects (value 2000 €/year);
  • specific recognition in the SCOPE Newsletter as responsible for selected theme content.

This is an interesting opportunity for your organisation to obtain visibility as expert and recognised knowledge provider for a theme area in nutrient management, and to develop a high-level network in this area.

Service to deliver

Your institute would commit to deliver 4-8 articles per year for SCOPE Newsletter. In the style of the current SCOPE Newsletter, articles are 1 to c. 3 page summaries of scientific publications, reports, conferences … with the aim of providing a technically accurate but readily accessible summary.

The objective is not to “advertise” your own activities, but to provide an up-to-date summary of leading publications and information from across the world.

Your role would be, under coordination of the ESPP Secretariat and Board responsible for editorial control of the SCOPE Newsletter, to select publications for summary based on permanent monitoring, to prepare the summary articles, and to contact authors to verify the text with them before publication, so developing new network contacts.

You can also propose SCOPE Newsletter articles 1-2 times per year providing an overview of developments in a specific area, as a function of new emphasis of scientific publications and other interests, or based on key conferences relevant to the area.

Reliability and commitment

ESPP’s objective is to establish lasting partnerships with organisations, to enable follow-up of SCOPE Newsletter content, and to enable you to develop expertise and network.                                                                        

Experience in the past shows that this can function if and only if your institute can make appropriate personnel time available for this work, usually if the content corresponds closely to your internal development activities  and/or if specific funding or resources can be dedicated, for example through a funded R&D project or work programme. Research students or similar time can be effective, but only if competent permanent staff time is also clearly budgeted/available to ensure quality, delivery, consistency over time.

Call for proposals

ESPP is calling for proposals for potential Partners for SCOPE Newsletter content, with objective to select 5-8 Partnerships to start by mid 2016.
Possible themes could include the following – your proposals are welcome to better define themes to fit your areas of interest and competence:

  • Technological phosphorus recovery (already covered by WETSUS)
  • Biological routes for phosphorus recovery (plants, algae …)
  • Links between diet and phosphorus consumption, food waste, …
  • Nutrient flows (c.f. DONUTSS)
  • Phosphorus use efficiency in agriculture
  • Phosphorus fertiliser developments, recycled P fertiliser products
  • Manure processing and valorisation
  • Nutrient valorisation in digestates and composts
  • Phosphorus losses and eutrophication
  • Phosphorus in diet and human health
  • Phosphorus uses in industry
  • Phosphorus resources and mining
  • Nutrient recycling in developing countries and/or Ecosan
  • Nutrient circular economy

To be selected as an ESPP SCOPE Newsletter Partner, please send a proposal of maximum 4 pages (using size 11 point characters) explaining:

  • The theme you propose to cover (what is included, excluded) and the potential interest of this theme (max. ½ page)
  • Competence and experience of your organisation in this area  (max. ½ page), references to e.g. recent publications, websites, other (max. ½ page)
  • Organisation of your commitment to deliver (max. 1 page): lead experts and their availability, supporting resources (e.g. research students, other staff …), budget/ funding and/or institutional or project management support/commitment
  • Comments and proposals as to how you propose to ‘design’ your input to SCOPE Newsletter: sources of information or soliciting content, article approach / design, methods of writing / validation … (max. 1 page)
  • Other advantages, possibilities and objectives of your partnership between with ESPP: network, projects, … (max ½ page)
  • Include 1-2 lead contacts email and telephone

Please send your response to



20 April, Helsinki, Finland.

The objective of the international seminar is to present initiatives that enhance the recycling of nutrients in manure and wastewater sludge, in the context of the bio-circular economy. The seminar gives an overview of political and administrative measures and presents success stories in nutrient recycling from various parts of Europe. It brings together businesses, research, administration and NGOs to finding new solutions to nutrient recycling. At the event we also have a Forum of Solutions where you may hear the views of companies and project actors on experiments with nutrient recycling and how these have succeeded.

The seminar has been organized by the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Rural Network Support Unit of Finland, EU Baltic Sea Strategy and European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform.

This international seminar is linked to a national event on 19th April (same venue, in Finnish) presenting the new Finland circular economy programme and funding opportunities. All participants are invited to a networking buffet 19th April evening, which will be held in the Forum of Solutions stands area, enabling to meet Finnish and international companies and stakeholders.

Registration now open and program online.
You can present your experiments and experiences in nutrient cycling on the Forum of Solutions

Phosphates 530 115

13 - 15 March, Marriott Rive, Paris, France.

The only global event for the fertilizer, industrial and feed phosphate markets.

Switzerland will as first country in the world make phosphorus recovery and recycling from sewage sludge and slaughterhouse waste obligatory. The new regulation (see also SCOPE Nr. 105 and Nr. 108) will enter into force on the 1.1.2016 with a transition period of 10 years. Switzerland banned direct use of sewage sludge on land in 2006, so the regulation will lead to technical recovery and recycling in the form of inorganic products. Swiss sludge and slaughterhouse waste together represent an annual flow of 9100 t of phosphorus whereas technical recycling from the wastewater stream in Europe today totals of around 1000 t of phosphorus in the form of struvite. In an implementation guide details such as required efficiency of the recovery process and plant availability of fertilizer is to be defined in collaboration with Swiss stakeholders.

Italmatch Chemicals, ESPP member, project for more sustainable phosphorus chemistry has been approved by the EU LIFE programme. The LIFE TRIALKYL project will demonstrate more sustainable and efficient production of phosphorus compounds used in a range of applications, including crop protection, fire safety, plastics, childcare products and pharmaceuticals. The new process will avoid toxic chemical intermediaries and byproducts (e.g. tertiary amines, phenol derivatives) and will not produce contaminated wastewater because water use is largely avoided (640 000 litres/year of water saved). It will also use less energy and generate ammonium chloride (NH4Cl) as a by-product, which can be recycled in other sectors such as agriculture.

“Italmatch takes part in LIFE, the European Community program dedicated to sustainable development”

Greece was fined 10 million € in October plus 20 000 € per day for failing to install adequate sewage collection and treatment in 6 areas (agglomerations > 15 000 pe), as required by the 1991 Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive 1991/271. The daily fine will run until compliance is achieved, depending on the number of areas still not in conformity. The European Commission has now asked for an additional 16 million € plus 35 000 € per day fine for failure to collect and treat sewage discharged into the Gulf of Elefsina, in the area of Thriasio Pedio. Greece was already condemned by the European Court of Justice for this same area in 2004 and the Commission notes that still today only 28% of sewage is collected and treated. Poland has also received a ‘final warning’ from the European Commission for failure to implement the EU Water Framework Directive 2000/2000, including failure to classify water bodies, large scale works carried out on rivers and unjustified exemptions to Good Quality Status objectives.

European Commission 19/11/2015 “Commission proposes fines and refers GREECE back to the Court of Justice of the EU over persistent poor waste water treatment. Greece facing fines over lack of urban waste water treatment”

European Court of Justice, case C-167/14, 15/11/2015 “Because of its delay in implementing the directive on urban waste water treatment, Greece is ordered to pay a fixed sum of €10 million and a periodic fine of €3.64 million per semester of delay”

ESPP’s General Assembly will take place in Brussels on 2nd December 2015, with in the morning a discussion on policies, tools and actions to develop the circular economy for bio-nutrients. To participate, contact ESPP

The European Commission (DG GROW) has published a decision rejecting Sweden’s request to restrict cadmium (Cd) in artists’ paints. Artists’ paints represent up to 10% of cadmium in sewage sludge, whereas less hazardous pigments are available and already on the market. Read more

On October 1-2, 2015 an international workshop on Technospheric Mining was held at the Technical University Vienna (TU Wien). Chris Thornton presented the current situation on sustainable phosphorus management in Europe and outlined the progress of EU policies.


He highlighted the recent key development of the proposed EU Circular Economy policy. It is estimated that a circular economy system for food production could cut Europe’s food cost per person by 30%. Bio-nutrients were identified as a priority sector for EU Circular Economy policy by a quarter of respondents to the EU’s 2015 public consultation. ESPP is actively involved in this process, fostering stakeholder input to policy development.

In 2014 phosphate rock was added to the EU List of Critical Raw Materials. Currently there is an updated assessment underway. Chris Thornton pointed out that the assessment should consider not only “phosphate rock”, but also phosphorus in all forms (P) in order to address bio-nutrients and recycling, and also specific forms of phosphorus, in particular White Phosphorus (P4) which is critical for strategic industries (chemicals, fire safety, electronics) and is no longer produced in Europe (100% technological import dependency).

ESPP and its partners are directly involved in a range of current EU regulatory and policy processes:

  • EU Fertiliser Regulation recast: taking recovered nutrient products into account and EU criteria development (JRC) for struvite, biomass ashes
  • Organic Farming Regulation: proposed validation of recycled P products
  • REACH (EU chemicals regulation): Art 2(7)d “recovered” substances, by-products
  • BAT BREFs (Industrial Emissions Directive): waste incineration, pig & poultry production
  • BEMPs: EMAS (EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme Regulation) “agriculture”
  • EIP-AGRI Focus Group proposal: agronomic use of recovered nutrient products
  • EU Critical Raw Materials list: MSA update - Standards: CEN SABE, ISO 275 …

Download here the full conference paper

Find here all presentations to download

The Dutch Parliament has announced to have a general meeting about the Circular Economy on the 17th of December. The meeting is a response to the letter sent by the Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment of the Netherlands to the Dutch Parliament addressing the question of phosphorus recycling. This letter resulted from input from the Netherlands Nutrient Platform, presenting the progress made in the Netherlands since the launch of the Phosphorus Value Chain Agreement of 2011 and outlining the challenges for the future. The Dutch Nutrient Platform underlines to the Parliament that we are not yet finished with phosphorus and that it’s important to keep the topic high on the agenda.

For more information you can contact the Dutch Nutrient Platform at or visit the website

New ISP standard for sustainability criteria for bioenergy production (15/9/2015) recognises importance of nutrients and phosphorus:

  • Key parameters and metrics to assess impacts ( calculation per process output of emissions and flows, cited example: g phosphorus applied / kg biomass produced (Guidance C7)
  • water quality indicator ( inc. eutrophication, requiring specification of phosphorus removal level technology implemented (Guidance B5)
  • soil quality and productivity ( actions to avoid soil nutrient losses and ensure soil nutrient fertility, including monitoring soil nutrient changes, agricultural management practices

Find mor details on the iso website.

Phosphorus recycling: ESPP publishes information note on regulatory status of recovered struvite (REACH, Fertiliser Regulation, End-of-Waste).

During the 2nd European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Berlin, 7th March 2015 the regulatory status of recovered struvite was discussed between a number of struvite producing companies.

The file can be downloaded here.

After consultation of companies and stakeholders, ESPP has proposed outline criteria for using different biomass combustion ashes as fertilisers or input raw materials for fertiliser production. This document has been transmitted to the European Commission for consideration in the current EU Fertiliser Regulation revision process. The document proposes safety and agronomic criteria, for different biomass combustion inputs and processes, covering in particular meat and bone meal ash (MBMA), poultry litter combustion ash, biomass renewable energy ash, sewage sludge and other sludge incineration ash. The proposed criteria can be downloaded here, comments are welcome.

ESPP has submitted, to the European Commission, proposed quality and safety criteria for (a) use of biomass ashes as a fertiliser or (b) as a raw material in fertiliser production. The proposed criteria, elaborated after concertation with ESPP members and partners, covers sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA), poultry litter combustion ash, biomass energy ash, meat and bone meal ash (MBMA) and specific industry sector biomass ashes, in total over 600 000 tonnes P/year. Consideration. ESPP already proposed criteria for recovered struvite as a fertiliser, which have been transmitted to the EU’s JRC (Joint Research Centre) for consideration in the process of developing EU criteria with the objective of implementation in the EU Fertiliser Regulation revision (criteria for future CE label). The proposed criteria for ash cover input materials, combustion conditions, possible contaminants (heavy metals, dioxins …) and agronomic value of the ash. The document notes that poultry litter combustion ash and MBMA are already proven and used as fertilisers in Europe. ESPP welcomes comments on the proposed criteria.

The EU has published the Horizon 2020 (RTD funding) draft (not yet officially validated) work programme 2016-2017, including SC2 (societal challenge) covering food security, agriculture and forestry, marine and inland water and the bioeconomy. Food security in the context of resource scarcities, sustainability, territorial development and employment and growth in the bioeconomy are identified as priorities, emphasising stakeholder involvement. Several specific challenges directly refer to nutrient management:

  • stresses in crop production (nutrient and water use efficiency NUE and WUE) – SFS-01-2016
  • closing loops at the farm and regional level, focus on C, N and P cycling, including improving agro-ecosystem nutrient efficiency, plant – animal interfaces, addressing consumption patterns and waste – SFS-30-2017
  • resource efficient urban agriculture (EU – China partnership), including closing nutrient cycles and efficient nutrient use – SFS-48-2017
  • nutrient recycling, within the theme large-scale algae biomass integrated biorefineries – BG-01-2016
  • sustainable seafood safety and dietary properties, includes processing of marine and aquaculture-derived nutrients – BG-08-2017
  • public-private partnerships (PPP) in the bioeconomy, including nutrient recycling (SGA ERA-NET food security prize 2017)

The above specific (proposed) calls are in addition to horizontal funding such as SME instrument, thematic networks, on-farm demonstrations, or calls covering wider themes which also cover nutrient stewardship, such as “Resiliant and resource efficient value-chains” or “bio-based markets of the future”.
“Draft Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2016-2017 in the area of Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy”

Please follow this link to get to the Horizon 2020 draft work programmes 2016-17

ESPP, with support of the EU (DG GROW), is launching work to identify what data is needed on nutrient stocks and flows by industry, agriculture and decision makers, to support stewardship decisions, circular economy objectives and management actions, and how this data should be monitored.

This targets phosphorus (P), potassium (K), possibly other nutrients. Existing work is already underway on nitrogen, e.g. INI - there are links and experience transfer, but duplication should be avoided.

To date, around 20 phosphorus flow studies have been published in different countries and regions of Europe (see below). However, the methodologies used, sectors covered (agriculture, industry, households etc. ), spatial scales and time-horizons are very variable so that results cannot be compared. Many regions have no useable phosphorus flow data. Data for other nutrients is even more scarce and disjoined. Where data is available, it is not readily accessible to stakeholders and is not orientated towards identifying points of possible effective action. Data is rarely updated, so following results of system changes or of impacts of nutrient management actions is not possible. 


The need for improved knowledge of phosphorus flows was the first conclusion of the European Commission Consultative Communication on the Sustainable Use of Phosphorus (Staff Working Document SWD(2014)263final): “In terms of ascertaining the extent of phosphorus supply and demand, … the replies pointed to a need to increase the knowledge base.

Phosphate rock is on the EU list of Critical Raw Materials and an MFA (materials flow analysis) is currently underway. The stakeholders meeting already confirmed the considerable insufficiencies of information currently available to input to this MFA. Now is therefore the time to start to complete the information base in preparation for the next MFA exercise planned in three years’ time (2017).

To launch this work, a workshop is organised in Ghent, 3-4 September 2015 (with Biorefine and Ghent University). This will look at both the gaps in scientific knowledge and methodology for nutrient flow analysis, the operational needs of industry actors and decision makers, and the capacity of data monitoring bodies.

The programme for the workshop can be found here


The European Commission Investment Plan / European Investment Bank (EIB) has identified nutrient recycling and phosphorus management as a priority area for project funding. A first project has already achieved provisional approval, presented by COOPERL (Brittany, France, farmers’ cooperative).

The METHATRAC project combines new generation piggeries equipped with TRAC scraping process, anaerobic digestion of the manure with slaughterhouse waste and municipal sewage to produce biogas and processing of the digestate to a valuable agricultural fertiliser product.

The 16 million € project will treat over 38 000 tonnes of pig manure (110 000 pigs). 55% of manure nitrogen (490 tonnes N/year) and 90% of phosphorus (430 tonnes P/year) will be captured and recycled as fertiliser. 7.6 million m3/year of biogas will be generated. Process water will be purified and recycled (reverse osmosis).

The TRAC piggery system reduces nitrogen climate gas emissions, improves animal and worker welfare (reduced NH4) and facilitates manure treatment for nutrient recycling. 40 such installations are already operational in Brittany. 125 tonnes/year of NH3 volatisation will be avoided in the METHATRAC project piggeries and net emissions of nearly 28 000 tonnes CO2 saved.

This project will accelerate sustainability in Brittany’s specialist intensive agriculture. Already today Brittany's farmers process over 400 000 tonnes of manure per year (processed weight, 50 – 90% dry matter), producing organic fertilisers specifically adapted for different crop needs and transported to other regions of France. In total, Brittany’s 1 100 farms generate livestock manure containing around 200 000 tonnes of nitrogen (N) and 120 000 tonnes of phosphorus (P).

EU Investment Plan / EIB loans are available for high-risk, market ready private investments of significant scale (generally > 15 million €). Nutrient recycling is identified as a target area for new project funding.

EU Investment Plan

For information about possible nutrient recycling project funding loans under this plan, contact ESPP.

Waternet, Amsterdam, has signed a contract with ICL Fertilisers, who will take the recovered struvite produced in the sewage treatment works for use in fertiliser production.

The Waternet sewage works, treats sewage from one million person equivalents (biological nutrient removal) and sludge from two million, incoming from other sewage works (anaerobic digestion). Struvite precipitation (magnesium ammonium phosphate), using the AirPrex process / magnesium chloride dosing in the digestate (anaerobic digester outflow) upstream of the sludge filter press, was installed to address major nuisance incrustation problems in pipes and other installations: operational savings of 200 000 €/year.

The struvite precipitation also improves methane production in the anaerobic digester (possibly by reducing ammonium return streams) and allows biological nutrient removal to achieve phosphorus discharge consent without chemical dosing. The biggest cost benefit comes from improved digestate dewatering (from 20% to 23% dry matter): this results in 300 000 – 400 000 €/year cost savings (gate fee for incineration of sludge in adjacent municipal waste incinerator and lower polymer dosage requirement), effectively resolving dewatering problems which resulted from moving from chemical to biological P removal in the plant.

The Waternet struvite plant started operation in 2013, and has a capacity of 900 tonnes/year. The struvite will now be used in the nearby ICL Fertilisers factory to produce fertilisers, after combination with other minerals.

Ostara are proving that struvite has a real market as a fertiliser. The 150 tonnes struvite/year recovered at Thames Water’s Slough sewage works is being successfully sold to farmers and for turf applications. Demand is exceeding supply and Ostara has even had to import struvite from its several operating plants in North America. Struvite is a slow-release phosphorus & magnesium fertiliser, adapted to plants’ needs for nutrient supply over time. The high quality (purity, granulometry) of Ostara’s CrystalGreen® product is considered by the company to be key to this market success.

Standards fixed by CEN (Europe) and ISP (global) are important in defining processes and quality criteria in many sectors, including fertilisers, sewage treatment and sludge management, waste incineration, environmental monitoring (see in SCOPE Newsletter n° 112). ESPP is proposing to better integrate nutrient stewardship and recycling into standards development. ESPP is also a member of the EU Industrial Emissions Directive Forum, in order to input on nutrient management in the definition of best practice (BAT BREFs) for sectors such as incineration, sewage treatment, agriculture. Contact the ESPP Secretariat for further information.

After consultation of producers and stakeholders, ESPP has prepared draft outline “fertiliser criteria for recovered struvite”. The objective is to move towards a harmonized recognition of struvite as a fertiliser in the EU Fertiliser Regulation revision process, and for this a definition of what can be sold as “struvite” is necessary. ESPP is asking the EU Commission to now engage an official EU process to fix fertiliser criteria for recovered struvite (JRC consultation process). Download ESPP proposed criteria HERE. All comments on these draft criteria are welcome

ESPP (European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform) has written to the EU Commissioners for Better Regulation, Growth, Environment and Agriculture underlining the economic and job potential of the circular economy for nutrients.

Improving phosphorus use, reducing losses to surface waters and developing recycling can deliver: improvements in water quality, reduced EU dependency on phosphate rock imports, new jobs and economic growth in waste and water treatment, biorefineries and recycling, rural development and “greener” agriculture.

The Platform proposes to include in the new European Commission Circular Economy proposals, expected in 2015: to carry through the revision of the Fertiliser Regulation, to harmonise interpretation of existing legislation, to define a coherent EU policy for phosphorus and to implement market-inciting economic tools.

Read ESPP’s letter, proposals for the fertiliser directive, annex on job creation at downloads.

Respond to the European Commission’s public consultation on the Circular Economy (deadline 20th August 2015):

300 companies, governments, scientists and European institutions met in Berlin 5-6th March to take forward phosphorus management: success stories, policy developments, commercial project launches, a US$ 10 million innovation prize, European Commission / P-REX / ESPP meeting on phosphorus recycling, criteria for recovered phosphate fertilisers, ‘Demitarian’ food. The conference and parallel events conclusions are published in Scope Newsletter_special_n°111 ESPC2  Conference Summary. Overview of all ESPC2 downloadables.

From the 1st of January 2015 it is allowed to use three recovered phosphates (struvite, magnesium phosphate and dicalcium phosphate DCP) as a fertilizer in the Netherlands. This includes recovered phosphates from wastewater and agricultural waste. The Ministry of Economic Affairs has realized this improvement in the fertilizer law in cooperation with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment to support the creation of a market for recycled phosphorus. This is a successful result of the Dutch Nutrient Platform’s action since 2011, in particular the Dutch Phosphate Value Chain Agreement signed by more than 20 companies, knowledge institutes, NGO’s and the Netherlands Government. The recovered phosphates are allowed for use as a fertilizer only if the products do not exceed the requirements for heavy metals and organic micro-pollutants applicable for regular fertilizers. For more information (in Dutch) please click here.


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