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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Urine recycling-Diffusion barriers and upscaling potential; case studies from Sweden and Switzerland

Aliahmad, Abdulhamid; Kanda, Wisdom; McConville, Jennifer


In this study, we explored why urine recycling systems have failed to gain wide-scale expansion despite their high potential for food and fertilizer security. Additionally, we examined the future perception of urine recycling in Sweden and Switzerland, as these two countries are at the forefront of technological advancement. Along with identifying barriers, we also proposed pathways for overcoming those barriers and achieving the upscale. The analysis was conducted using the technological innovation (TIS) approach, which is technology-focused, i.e., revolves around emerging technologies. Additionally, the study provides a methodological contribution to the innovation systems research by employing the Delphi method in conjunction with urine recycling experts to enforce transparency and prevent bias in the analysis. For urine recycling to overcome its current challenges, actors must work collectively. There needs to be a combination of top-down and bottom-up efforts to achieve the upscaling pathways. Lobbying and knowledge provision are necessary to adjust the current regulatory frame-work in a manner that provides public and private incentives. For urine recycling to diffuse and break into the mainstream market, we must move beyond enthusiasts, innovators, and niche markets into the mass market (ordinary people); dedicated service providers can facilitate this process. Pilot projects have been found integral to urine recycling upscaling. Future work could conduct life cycle assessments on existing pilot projects to un-derstand the environmental and economic performance of urine recycling systems when scaled up.


Urine diversion; Wastewater; Nutrient recovery; Technological innovation system (TIS); Diffusion; Delphi method

Published in

Journal of Cleaner Production
2023, Volume: 414, article number: 137583