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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

A Circular Economy for Phosphorus in Sweden-Is it Possible?

Lorick, Dag; Harder, Robin; Svanstrom, Magdalena


More sustainable management of phosphorus requires comprehensive understanding of phosphorus stocks and flows. With the purpose of shedding light on the possibilities for an increased level of recirculation of phosphorus in Sweden, phosphorus flows entering and exiting biomass production sectors were quantified along with waste flows, that is, flows that are not currently utilized in biomass production. Relevant waste flows were also characterized in terms of phosphorus concentration, plant availability, contamination and geo-spatial distribution. The theoretical recirculation potential of phosphorus in Sweden was then estimated. The results indicate that there is a large potential for making phosphorus management more circular, especially regarding the utilization of phosphorus in sewage sludge as well as wood ashes from the forestry sector. Moreover, there is a large amount of phosphorus in mining waste that could potentially be used for fertilizer production. It is concluded that the amount of phosphorus in flows fit for recirculation in forestry could more or less balance today's output. In agriculture, however, recirculation can only sufficiently replace imported mineral phosphorus at current demand if the phosphorus in mining waste is utilized. Thus, if the goal is to replace all of the mineral phosphorus, the agricultural sector also has to become much more efficient in its phosphorus usage.


nutrient management; recirculation potential; phosphorus management

Published in

2021, Volume: 13, number: 7, article number: 3733Publisher: MDPI

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

    Publication identifier


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