Can we recycle human urine to close the nutrient cycle?

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  • Susanna Germanier Skat Foundation's Trainee : Change Action Promotion in solid waste management
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Re: Can we recycle human urine to close the nutrient cycle?

Thank you for your post. I'm familiar with a similar project in Switzerland called VunaNexus. This Swiss company specializes in recycling urine into natural fertilizers, addressing the issue of nutrient wastage and environmental impact. VunaNexus has developed a patented treatment and recovery system over 15 years of research, transforming urine into a valuable and certified fertilizer known as Aurin. The VUNA project, initially led by Eawag research between 2010 and 2015, aimed to recover nutrients from urine and support farmers in South Africa. There are videos and explanations on their website, making it a very interesting topic. Don't hesitate to have a look; here's their website: www.vunanexus.com/fr_CH 
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Can we recycle human urine to close the nutrient cycle?

Innovative and sustainable sanitation services to ensure access, closure of the nutrient cycle and as a measure of adaptation to climate change
 
Nitrogen and phosphorus are essential for food production in global agriculture. A food security assessment should consider whether there are sufficient nutrients to ensure food production. With a growing world population, the food needs of an additional 2 billion people will need to be met by 2050. In this scenario, innovation to find new sources of nutrients to ensure food security is even more relevant.
 
The Decentralized Sanitation Models in Bolivia program of the Swedish Embassy generated an exchange of Swedish technologies for the crystallization of urine in the municipality of El Alto (La Paz) with the purpose of obtaining a powder fertilizer with a high content of phosphorus and nitrogen, two key elements for food production. This presentation (powder) facilitates the application of the fertilizer for Bolivian farmers. Although the innovation and technology are Swedish, work was carried out to adapt that technology to the Bolivian context with local materials.
 
EPSAS, the operator of drinking water and sanitation services in La Paz,with the support of the Swedish Embassy through the technical assistance of Aguatuya, is developing capabilities to offer innovative sustainable sanitation alternatives, such as decentralized wastewater treatment , septic tanks with scheduled collection of sludge for proper treatment and management of waste from dry ecological toilets, implementing an adequate system for the collection and treatment of fecal sludge and urine until its final disposal, ensuring its continuity, the closure of the cycle of nutrients and sustainability.
 
It is expected that this set of additional solutions will allow EPSAS to provide an innovative, accessible and environmentally sustainable sanitation service for peri-urban populations and even contribute to closing the nutrient cycle and food security in Bolivia. Based on current crop yields, the nutrients available in human excreta could meet the 100% nitrogen and 70% phosphorus deficit. Therefore, excreta recycling could be one of the most innovative strategies to prevent deforestation and nutrient depletion in forests and also increase the circularity of nutrients and crop yields in Bolivia.
 
What do you think about this experience? Do you know similar projects?

We will be very happy to read you.
 
If you want to access the complete note and the file of this treatmentplant, you can access these links:
Full note (English)
Full note (Spanish)
Urine plant technical sheet (Spanish)
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