Life cycle assessment of phosphorus alternatives for Swedish agriculture
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2012

Phosphorus is an important nutrient in plant cultivation. Global reserves of phosphate rock worth mining are limited. Reuse of phosphorus in wastewater is therefore important. This LCA study assessed the environmental impact of four ways to supply Swedish agriculture with phosphorus fertiliser of acceptable quality as regards cadmium content: mineral fertiliser; certified sewage sludge; struvite (MgNH4PO4·6H2O) precipitated from wastewater; and phosphorus recovered from sludge incineration. These were examined with respect to impacts on global warming, eutrophication, energy demand and cadmium flows to farmland. The functional unit chosen was 11 kg P (25.2 kg P2O5) to agricultural land, which was the average phosphorus output (removal with harvest) per hectare from Swedish farmland in 2007. Using sewage sludge directly on farmland was the most efficient option in terms of energy and emissions of greenhouse gases, but also added most cadmium to the soil. Phosphorus recovery from incinerated sludge was the most energy demanding option and gave most emissions of greenhouse gases. Despite great concerns about cadmium in Swedish fertilisers and sludge, it was found that almost no regular analyses for cadmium are made on imported food by the authorities, although food imports are constantly increasing. Total imports of cadmium with food are therefore unknown.


Sewage sludge

Life cycle assessment





Kersti Linderholm

Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet (SLU)

Anne-Marie Tillman

Chalmers, Energi och miljö, Environmental Systems Analysis

Jan Erik Mattsson

Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet (SLU)

Resources, Conservation and Recycling

09213449 (ISSN) 18790658 (eISSN)

Vol. 66 27- 39


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