Evaluation of Phosphorus Substance Flows for a Long-Term Resource Management

Seyhan D.

RECYCLING AND REUSE APPROACHES FOR BETTER SUSTAINABILITY, pp.63-73, 2019 (Refereed Journals of Other Institutions) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/978-3-319-95888-0_6
  • Page Numbers: pp.63-73


Resource management, akin to hazardous waste management, must adopt a cradle-to-grave perspective for key resources. One good reason is that substance flows go unnoticed in the regional metabolism and the global trade of all goods (im Guterfluss). This in turn conceals causality in depletion and pollution, or hinders an effective conservation of resources and the environment, leaving its management symptomatic. Phosphorus (P) is a key nonrenewable resource, which must be imported to almost all countries, and its use as fertilizer cannot be substituted posing a constraint on the global food production and for the long term. This paper shows the P-flows used and lost abroad (the Hinterland) to produce the goods imported into one country, as a continuum of our earlier study and for the cases of Turkey and Austria. These Hinterland flows represent the actual and total raw material consumption of a country and can in some cases dominate the overall system belittling front-end or country-wide recycling and conservation efforts. In particular, losses in global agriculture as well as the magnitude of mining wastes must be considered for effective decisions on P-management. Taking the Hinterland into account will link those global and regional P-flows and help in setting the right priorities for P-management. Implication for recycling and the circular economy is the potential shown for recovery, which shall only take place alongside with reducing big losses and the inefficiencies within one country and elsewhere.