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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Acceptance of human excreta derived fertilizers in Swedish grocery stores

McConville, Jennifer R.; Metson, Genevieve S.; Persson, Hugo


Safe recycling of nutrients found in human excreta back to agriculture is an important component of a circular economy that can protect waterways and stabilize food prices. Although many technological advances for the recovery of these nutrients exist, large-scale implementation is lacking. A commonly cited barrier is a lack of acceptance of fertilizers from human excreta and for food products grown with such fertilizers. The food retail sector, as an intermediary between producers and consumers, is an important actor with power to influence opinions and purchasing practices. In this study, we surveyed 127 food retailers (stores) and reviewed publicly available retailer sustainability policies to assess acceptance of the use of recycled fertilizers. We gauged acceptance of three products relevant for the Swedish market - struvite, phosphorus from ash, and dehydrated urine. Most respondents felt that all three recovery techniques were unlikely to be harmful either to themselves or to the environment. It was more acceptable to use products further away from human consumption. In general, struvite and phosphorus from ash were perceived more positively. Acceptance of wastewater-derived fertilizers was largely dependent on perceived risks, especially the fate of pharmaceutical residues. While re-tailers in Sweden are not negative to reuse, they seem unlikely to provide strong support for nutrient recircu-lation from human excreta unless it becomes a greater concern for the public.


Resource-recovery; Wastewater; Urine; Food retail sector; Nutrients

Published in

City and environment interactions
2023, Volume: 17, article number: 100096

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG6 Clean water and sanitation

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

    Publication identifier


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