Phosphorus, which is excreted in urine, is a nutrient needed by all life. Plants extract phosphorus from soil; farmers replenish it via fertilizers.
To make the fertilizers and animal feed, the EU depends on imports of phosphorus, as about 90 percent of the demand, some 975,000 tons annually, is imported mainly from North Africa and the Middle East, where it is mined from phosphorus rock.
EU researchers found that this dependence could be reduced by recycling phosphorus from sewage sludge, the thick semi-solid material left over after treating municipal wastewater.
By Ruchi Singh
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