Phosphorus (P) is necessary for life as a macronutrient and cannot be substituted for this use. P-fertilisers must be available to sustain soil fertility and ensure food security to feed the world population. Yet, the resource is non-renewable. EU relies on imports of P-rock to a very high extent (93%). The fact that P is essential renders the increasing scarcity inevitable and leads to concerns about the future use.
This study assesses long-term resource use and recycling with a model based on material flow analysis and resource economics. Societies produce P-rich wastes, which are secondary resources, calling for sound environmental management. Recycling from secondary resources must be optimised for the long term to extend the period for which P will be available to EU agriculture.
The study proposed here integrates long-term recycling of a non-renewable resource into a dynamic optimisation problem and seeks to determine the optimal use of primary and secondary P resources. In this model physical and economic inefficiencies are considered, while scenarios show the possibility of prolonging resource lifetime. The project is in line with the Resources Strategy of the EU. It helps to design policies for the efficient use of P, which will play an important r ole in food security and thus global and inter-generational equity.
The training provides the researcher with complementary scientific competencies. Having an environmental engineering background and a PhD in waste and resources management, the researcher combines her engineering skills with environmental and resource economics, under the auspices of the EU. She will benefit from the award by improving her methodological capacity and by enlarging her international scientific network.
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call