Assessing the Possibility of a Circular Economy for Phosphorus Sweden

Examensarbete för masterexamen

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Type: Examensarbete för masterexamen
Title: Assessing the Possibility of a Circular Economy for Phosphorus Sweden
Authors: Lorick, Dag
Abstract: Phosphorus is essential for all biological life, and as such it is necessary for biomass production. Today, most of the phosphorus in agricultural fertilizers originates from mineral reserves, which are steadily declining both in terms of quantity and quality. Estimates for when the mineral phosphorus fertilizer production will reach its peak vary, with some estimates suggesting that it will peak as soon as 2030. Moreover, mineral phosphorus is not equally distributed around the globe, with a few nations controlling a majority of the mineral reserves. In addition to the scarcity problems, emissions of phosphorus can lead to excessive growth of algae and cyanobacteria, which causes anoxic bottom zones. This has been a severe problem in the Baltic sea, which stretches along the eastern coast of Sweden. The aim of this thesis was to evaluate if a circular economy for phosphorus is possible in Sweden. To aid with the evaluation, a Material Flow Analysis (MFA) was conducted for phosphorus in Sweden. The recirculation potential of different phosphorus-containing waste flows was then assessed based on the magnitude, concentration, chemical form or plant availability, contamination and geo-spatial availability of the flows. This thesis found that there is a large potential for improving phosphorus management, especially regarding the utilization of sewage sludge from municipal wastewater treatment and ashes from the forestry sector. There is also a large amount of phosphorus in mining waste, which in the future could potentially be used for fertilizer production. It is concluded that the amount of phosphorus in flows fit for recirculation is not sufficient to replace mineral phosphorus with current demand, unless the phosphorus in mining waste is used. Thus, to achieve a circular economy for phosphorus in Sweden, production sectors have to become more resource-efficient in their phosphorus usage. The agricultural sector is pointed out as an area with particularly high potential for improvement in this regard.
Keywords: Phosphorus;Nutrient flow analysis;Circular economy;Food security;Material flow analysis;MFA;Sweden
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Chalmers tekniska högskola / Institutionen för teknikens ekonomi och organisation
Series/Report no.: E2019:114
Collection:Examensarbeten för masterexamen // Master Theses

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