The Baltic Sea is one of the most nutrient-affected water bodies in the world, partly due to human activity – the region is home to 90 million people and is packed with industries and vast agricultural areas and partly geographical – the sea is almost completely enclosed, meaning pollutants that do enter it tends to accumulate. The result is eutrophication – the excessive richness of nutrients in water bodies – is caused mainly by run-off of nitrogen and phosphorus from agriculture. Despite significant reductions in the use of chemical fertiliser in recent decades, the Baltic is yet to reach a healthy ecological status with the resulting seasonal algal blooms and oxygen having major ecosystem impacts, affecting fisheries and recreation.
To tackle the problem, BONUS RETURN, a project led by Stockholm Environment Institute, has been testing circular solutions to capture and reuse excess nutrients and a new film highlights circular solutions for recovering and reusing nutrients in wastewater and agriculture for a healthier, sustainable Baltic Sea.
Creating a circular economy for phosphorus.
An example is phosphorus, an essential fertiliser for ensuring food security. The current use of phosphate is predominantly linear – from phosphorus-rock mining, to fertiliser production, to agriculture, and finally to food consumption, with the excess phosphorus used in agriculture ending up in soil and run off. The negative impacts of eutrophication, and the limited global commercial phosphorus reserves together make a powerful case for creating a circular economy for phosphorus, especially in populated drainage basins like the Baltic Sea Region.
The BONUS RETURN project has been testing solutions to capture and reuse excess nutrients to promote recycling. Circular solutions can decrease both the dependency on mined phosphorus for food production and the total inputs of phosphorus, which would ultimately improve the ecological state of the Baltic Sea. The team have brought together a new film, detailing the circular solutions for recovering and reusing nutrients in wastewater and agriculture for a healthier, sustainable Baltic Sea.
Watch the film below or click here
Words and film by Stockholm Environment Institute ( @SEIresearch ) .
Originally published in Issue #17 of the Bio Market Insights Quarterly.