DS 3.4: Evaluating technology innovation in recycling

Technology Innovations in Recycling (Version 3*, May 06, 2013)

There are several losses throughout the P supply chain beginning with mining until the dissipation and recycling phase asking for development of proper technologies for recycling. In case of sewage, there are increasing efforts in many European countries, Japan and other developed countries such as Canada on phosphorus recycling from sewage and organic waste including animal manure.

But of course, P losses occur in developing and more agrarian affected countries as well and technology is not always a proper solution. Finally, the biggest challenge is to find suitable ways to close the nutrient cycle on regional or even local level, which might be more challenging for urbanized and industrialized regions, where the dislocation of food production and consumption is more distinct.

In case of sewage, the recycling technologies fundamentally differ with respect to the maturity and infrastructure for sewage treatment and sludge valorization, the chemical or thermal processes applied. But there are other significant waste flows such as fertilizer production (gypsum) or animal waste (manure, carcass waste) which ask for application of possible synergies and technology development.

Since various technologies for P recovery and recycling are already available, but still need to be deployed onto the market, critical questions are:

What hampers wide-spread implementation of available and feasible technology? What can be done by policy to provide framing conditions to promote P recovery and recycling not only theoretically, but also in practice? What are the socio-economic drivers effecting the implementation? How can the ecologic and economic impacts of the relevant technologies be reasonably assessed and what conclusions and recommendation can be expected?

The recycling of phosphorus is also reasonable, since phosphate mining is limited to few countries and therefore recycling options can alleviate countries from dependency on external P supply. Other incentives are financial collateral benefits through diminishing waste products and the abatement of over-fertilization.

Key stakeholders from science, practice and politics are invited to participate in the DS on prospects of Technology Innovations in Recovery and Recycling to discuss diverse perspectives and fill up knowledge gaps in order to formulate different hypothesis. Through discussions and mutual learning processes policy options and guidance for key actors should be exploited which are about to foster phosphorus recycling.

The leading questions for the DS are: What new technologies for efficient P recycling are available? How can the obstacles for a technical and social transition from not only removing the pollutant P towards recovery of the precious resource P be overcome? How can important related knowledge be categorized from first-hand experience and transformed into action?

* This is the third version of the description of what will be dealt with in the DS 3.4 Technology Innovations in Recycling and provides only a rough description of what will be discussed. A group of practitioners and scientists are currently revising this abstract and composing a booklet which will prepare all participants for the DS on June 18. Please contact marie.schoenau@uni-oldenburg.de, member of the TD Support team or Anh Pallas, Science manager of Global TraPs if you want to join a.pham@gmx.ch.