World Water Day 2023: How Recycling Phosphorus Can Help Feed the World

As the world’s population continues to grow, there is an increasing demand for synthetic and mineral fertilizers to produce enough food. Phosphorus is one of the essential elements used in commercial fertilizers, and most of it is extracted from open-cast mines. However, the production of these fertilizers requires the use of sulfuric acid, which is facing shortages in the coming decades. The depletion of sulfuric acid can cause a global food security crisis, especially for those in low-income countries. To solve this problem, recycling phosphorus from wastewater is crucial.

What is Phosphorus Recycling?

Recycling phosphorus from wastewater involves using struvite, a magnesium ammonium phosphate, to produce fertilizers. It’s a low-cost and efficient method that does not require sulfuric acid. Dublin’s Ringsend sewage treatment system is already using this method, but governments worldwide should retrofit the system in their urban sewage treatment plants. Phosphorus recycling from separated urine is more cost-effective and involves adding salt to the urine and mixing it. This method is efficient and produces a white, odorless powder that can be used as a fertilizer.

Why Should We Recycle Phosphorus?

If we don’t recycle enough phosphorus to meet the growing demand for fertilizers, prices for food and fertilizer will become unaffordable for millions, especially those in low-income countries. Recycling phosphorus is crucial for sustainable agriculture and food security. Additionally, struvite produced from recycled phosphorus does not contain toxic metals or pharmaceuticals, making it safe for use as fertilizer.

How Can You Get Involved?

If you are passionate about the environment and want to help solve the problem of phosphorus pollution and food insecurity, you can start by recycling phosphorus. Ollan Herr Ltd offers low-cost phosphorus recycling systems that are easy to use and require minimal maintenance. By recycling phosphorus, you can also grow flowers using hydroponic systems, which absorb the remaining nitrogen and pharmaceuticals in the urine. The recovered biomass can then be composted with kitchen waste, reducing overall waste.


Recycling phosphorus is crucial for sustainable agriculture and food security. With the depletion of sulfuric acid, we need to explore alternative methods for producing fertilizers. Phosphorus recycling is an efficient and cost-effective method that can be implemented worldwide. If you’re interested in learning more about phosphorus recycling or want to get involved, contact Ollan Herr Ltd today.