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Best available techniques to recover or recycle fertilising products from secondary raw materials

The scope of this CSA is the analysis of best available technologies for recovering/recycling fertilising products from secondary raw materials in Europe while limiting nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in soil, water and air and any other form of pollution from the use of such fertilising products and from the replacement of nitrogen- and phosphorus-based fertilisers produced from conventional processes (including mining and fossil-based processes). Examples of fertilising products within the scope are: recycled nutrients from urban and industrial waste water and sewage sludge, organic fertilising products from bio-waste, digestate and treated manure as well as other fertilising products from biological resources.

To deliver on the expected outcomes, proposals should:

  • Collect data on case studies of existing installations converting secondary raw materials into fertilising products in Europe and outside. Secondary raw materials should include: urban and industrial waste water and sewage sludge, bio-waste, digestate, treated manure, others. Case studies of existing installations should range in volume and type of secondary materials treated, as well as in technologies employed in the installations;
  • Analyse the technical aspects of the available technologies, such as on the characterisation of secondary raw materials, the recovery/recycling processes and their environmental impacts on soil, water and air quality, biodiversity and climate, their resources efficiency (including energy), as well as the pollution prevention operations. The analysis should also include the assessment of the costs for installation, maintenance and upgrade of both recovery/recycling and pollution prevention operations;
  • Compare the environmental impacts and the resources efficiency (including energy) of the available technologies in the scope with the impacts of the conventional processes producing nitrogen- and phosphorus-based fertilisers. The comparison should be performed based on appropriate selection of the functional unit;
  • Analyse the fertilising products from each case study selected at the first step: e.g. their composition (in a range of values of main components, following the current content of labelling provisions of EU fertilising products), with special focus on any potential polluting substance, including microplastics and persistent substances and their impacts on soil, water, air quality, biodiversity and climate, their suggested use and management, especially preventing the emissions of nitrogen and phosphorus to the environment but also any other pollutants, their compliance with certifications and labels, etc.;
  • Analyse the market and the regulatory framework of the identified practices (according to the EU legislation, certification and standardization schemes) and their potential to enable or prevent the wider uptake of these technologies;
  • Analyse the technical availability of feedstock supply and potential to upscale the identified practices and the production of fertilising products from secondary raw materials;
  • Select the best available technologies based on: the analysis carried out on the whole database of case studies, the market and the regulatory framework and the availability of feedstock supply. The best techniques should meet the best performances, especially in terms of lower impacts on soil, water, and air quality, biodiversity and climate;
  • Deliver specific datasheets of relevant techniques with their technical and environmental performances, as well as with economic and social analysis;
  • Build links with the European Mission ‘Restore our ocean and waters by 2030’, in particular with the Mission activities under objective 2 – prevent, minimise and eliminate pollution in marine and freshwater environment, and with the Mission lighthouse activities in the Mediterranean sea basin focusing on prevention, reduction and elimination of all kinds of pollution in marine and freshwater ecosystems, including pollution from excess nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen);
  • Build links with the European Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’, especially with the activities under objective -reduce soil pollution and enhance restoration.
  • Provide recommendations to policy makers and practitioners to ensure the deployment of the best available technologies preventing the emissions of nitrogen and phosphorus to soil, water and air;
  • Establish a forum of stakeholders from the whole supply and value chain, in order to feed the projects with advice and discussion and share best practices eventually. The forum will be open to stakeholders from Europe and outside.

Applicants from different groups of stakeholders will cover all the technical, environmental, economic and social aspects of supply chains of secondary raw materials, installations and processes converting those materials into fertilising products and end users.

In order to achieve the expected outcomes, and in line with the EU strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, international cooperation is encouraged.

Where relevant, proposals should seek links with and capitalise on the results of past[[ See for example and projects under BBI JU,]] and ongoing EU funded projects[[ See for example HORIZON-CL6-2021-ZEROPOLLUTION-01-09: Environmental impacts and trade-offs of alternative fertilising products at global/local scale.]].

The projects funded under this topic should develop their tasks in synergy, in order to select the best available technologies on the broader base of case studies, possibly covering all different conditions in Europe (i.e. different secondary raw materials available, different techniques, regulatory and market frameworks, etc.). The projects should also establish common formats of the specific datasheets of relevant techniques and of the recommendations to policy makers and practitioners, both described in the scope. Moreover, they should establish together the forum of stakeholder, which will be unique for all projects.

This topic requires the effective contribution of SSH disciplines and the involvement of SSH experts, institutions as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH expertise, in order to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related research activities.

In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.