Phosphorus is a non-renewable resource, non-substitutable for food production, essential for agriculture and directly linked to food security, as well as being important in a range of other industrial and technical uses. The world’s mineral phosphate resources are finite, but there is debate about their extent and extractability and about their geographical concentration. However, with ongoing international pressure on raw materials and food production, the need for phosphorus stewardship will endure. At the same time, phosphorus losses pose major environmental issues. Phosphorus is the principal substance contributing to eutrophication and surface water quality failure in much of Europe, whilst Europe’s population eats around twice as much phosphorus as is required for good health.
These phosphorus sustainability issues are closely linked to other challenges, including nitrogen management, water treatment, food waste, soil erosion, contaminants and food safety. Improving the efficiency of phosphorus processing and its use in industry, agriculture, livestock production, food processing and diet, and developing strategies for reuse, recovery and recycling of phosphorus can save money, contribute to reducing nutrient pollution, and generate employment in the circular economy.
This Phosphorus Challenge was taken up by the European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP), formed in March 2013 through a declaration, signed by over 150 organisations after the first European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference. ESPP ensures knowledge sharing, experience transfer and networking for opportunities in the field of phosphorus management, facilitates discussion between the market, stakeholders and regulators, addresses regulatory obstacles, contributes to policy proposals, circulates information by newsletters, website, conferences and publications, promotes Platform Members’ activities, and contributes to define a long-term vision for phosphorus sustainability in Europe.
The Members of ESPP cover a wide range of actors across the whole value chain of phosphorus stewardship: phosphorus mining and processing, water and waste treatment, food, feed and agriculture, phosphorus reuse and recycling, innovation and technology providers, knowledge institutions, NGOs and governmental organizations. See the full list of current ESPP-Members.