The P-REX project built on the outputs of previous European research projects and performed the first holistic large scale evaluation of innovative and available phosphorus recovery technologies using municipal sewage sludge or ashes from mono-incineration in comparison with traditional phosphorus recycling by land application of sewage sludge.

Phosphorus is one essential element of life, which can neither be produced synthetically nor substituted by any other substance. Its importance as plant nutrient is emphasized by the huge amount of more than one million tons of mineral phosphorus annually imported into Europe to sustain good harvests. While phosphorus is a limited fossil element, its extensive recovery from “secondary renewable sources” is of paramount importance and follows the principles of the European Roadmap for Resource Efficiency and the current developments towards circular economy. Municipal wastewater represents a relevant phosphorus reserve and has the potential to cover about 20% of the P demand in Europe.

Traditional recycling of around 40% of this potential is practiced by application of sewage sludge in agriculture. But this recycling route is questioned in many countries. It has to be further secured to protect the environment and human health. Transparency and fact based measures will play a key role to generate consumer confidence. Technical phosphorus recovery and recycling can complement it, thus answering remaining obstacles caused by sludge quality and nutrient logistics. Technology concepts have been developed in recent European projects to tap into this renewable domestic resource.

The project closed important knowledge gaps that had been identified over the past years. It used a practice oriented methodology to paint a broad picture of all relevant aspects of technologies and options for the sustainable use of phosphorus today, thus enabling informed decisions and accelerating the transition to a circular economy of phosphorus without the reinvention of the wheel. It will help to improve the food security not only in Europe, but also for a growing world’s population. It clearly addresses what can already be done and what has to be done to enable a circular economy for nutrients in Europe.



  • Agro Plus Handelsunternehmen eU
  • ASIO, spol. s r.o.
  • BAM - Bundesanstalt fuer Materialforschung und –pruefung
  • BSH Umweltservice AG
  • FHNW – Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz
  • IASP – Institut fuer Agrar- und Stadtoekologische Projekte an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Ingitec - Ingenieurbuero fuer Giessereitechnik GmbH
  • Kompetenzzentrum Wasser Berlin gGmbH
  • LimCo International GmbH
  • Outotec
  • P.C.S. Pollution Control Service GmbH
  • PFI Planungsgemeinschaft GbR
  • Proman Management GmbH
  • Solintel M&P, S.L.
  • Veolia Eau


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