Nutrient recycling is a top priority in ‘A Circular Economy in the Netherlands by 2050’, in which the Dutch government presented its national Circular Economy programme and which today is on the Dutch Lower House’s programme. The Netherlands is a leader in the recycling of nutrients from residual streams. This is why the Nutrient Platform believes in concrete, short-term results. KWR is one of the 36 participants in the Nutrient Platform, which presented its action plan, ‘Nutrient Ambition 2018’, at the Instock restaurant in The Hague on 5 October. State Secretary Sharon Dijksma and Louise Vet, director of NIOO-KNAW, introduced the plan with their own visions.
KWR is a member of the Nutrient Platform because nutrient recovery and reuse can make an important contribution to a sustainable watercycle, and fits in with the drive for a circular economy and the upcycling of raw materials. KWR conducts research into the reuse of water and residuals, and develops knowledge about innovative technologies, products and markets, based on the demands of the business sector. It does this within programmes like TKI, in initiatives like the Sustainable Airport Cities project. KWR focuses on translating scientific knowledge to provide practical solutions to end-users. This dovetails well with the ambition of the Nutrient Platform to take the lead in scaling-up the market for recycled nutrients, as a means of safeguarding raw material and food security, as well as healthy soils and clean water, for future generations.
Residual streams such as wastewater, treatment sludge and manure offer great potential for the recovery of nutrients like phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium: raw materials that are at the foundation of everything that grows and flourishes. The first recycled nutrients are already finding their way to the market. But the market is not yet mature. The food and chemical industry, alongside agriculture, will be playing a more important role in the years ahead in using recycled nutrients, some of which will originate in the water sector. This is why the Nutrient Platform and its members are taking the lead in scaling-up the market for recycled nutrients as fast as possible. This will contribute to a circular, future-proof and sustainable nutrient economy.
With the ‘Nutrient Ambition 2018’ action plan, the members of the Nutrient Platform jointly commit themselves to doing a number of things, including:
- Better matching the supply of recycled nutrients to the demand of the agricultural and industrial sectors.
- Harmonising the legal and regulatory framework concerning waste and raw materials in the Netherlands and Europe, in such a way that nutrient recycling in the circular economy is stimulated.
- Increasing awareness about the finitude, geopolitical dependence and environmental problems related to nutrients.
- Seeking possibilities of stimulating sustainable nutrient use, such as green labelling.
These actions constitute the first steps towards creating a mature market for recycled nutrients.
From Phosphorus Value Chain Agreement to Nutrient Ambition
Since 2011, companies, knowledge institutes, NGOs and government ministries have been united in the Nutrient Platform with the goal of closing the nutrient cycle through the creation of a European market for recycled nutrients. The Nutrient Platform has since grown into a network of 36 members, from sectors like agriculture, water, fertilisers, and waste processing, as well as the food industry. The platform’s members have been the source of a number of new initiatives like the Phosphate Factory, SaNiPhos and the Energy & Raw Materials Factory. The collaboration has so far led to four adopted motions in the Dutch Lower House about the end-of-waste status, and about giving priority to the quality of recycled nutrients rather than their origin. Moreover, upon the recommendation of the members of the Nutrient Platform, a new category, ‘Recovered Phosphorus’, was established under the Fertiliser Law. The Phosphorus Value Chain Agreement, which was signed in 2011 by the participants in the Nutrient Platform, is now followed by the ‘Nutrient Ambition 2018’ action plan. This is how the Netherlands strives to become the first country to create a mature market for recycled nutrients.