P2Green Project: An Innovative Solution to Water Pollution and the Limited Efficacy of Conventional Fertilizers 

P2Green is a project awarded a contract and funding by the EU’s Horizon Europe initiative. It is working to develop, test, and adapt sanitary waste to produce safe, bio-based fertilizers for agriculture. The project began on December 1, 2022, and will end on November 30, 2026. 32 European organizations are driving the implementation of the project, with Agrathaer GMBH being the primary organization responsible for the project’s implementation. Agrathaer GMBH is a German research institute that collaborates with farmers, scientists, and public authorities to create innovative solutions. Other organizations implementing the project include ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability, Moverim, and Citizens in Power.

The P2Green project aims to simultaneously solve two issues by recovering nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater and converting it into fertilizers: 1) conventional fertilizers lack essential plant nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), which hinders agriculture from producing sufficient crop yields, and 2) nitrogen and phosphorus are harmful to water polluters. Thus, P2Green follows the 3R principle of the “reduce, reuse, and recover” approach to transform harmful polluters into good fertilizers and facilitate a positive step in the EU’s transition towards a circular and clean economy. These bio-based fertilizers will provide an alternative to the mineral fertilizers that are currently used and will minimize the pressure that is being put on natural resources like water and soil. The P2Green project is currently being implemented in three regions: the Baltic Sea region, the Hamburg-Hannover region, and the Axarquia region in Southern Spain. After the initiative has been piloted in these regions, the process will be replicated in four distinct regions: Hungary, Italy, France, and Greece.

The P2Green project is particularly notable in its use of specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.) objectives set to be completed within a given timeframe. These specific objectives add a layer of accountability to the project as they are measurable and provide a path forward that will allow the project to be successful. For example, one of the project’s objectives is to create governance solutions that halt and prevent pollution of fresh and maritime waters, soils, and air from nitrogen and phosphorus emissions.  This objective is expected to be worked on between month one of the project’s implementation and month 48 of its implementation. In order to determine if this objective has been achieved, P2Green notes that three demonstrated and validated novel governance solutions at the interface of rural/coastal-urban/industrial environments should have been achieved in the Baltic Sea region, the Hamburg-Hannover region, and the Axarquia region.

The P2Green project is actively working to shift current EU wastewater policies by creating a precedent that local EU governments should capture nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater in urban areas and use this nitrogen and phosphorus to create fertilizers that will assist crop yield in surrounding rural areas.

The first two years of the P2Green project (which the project is currently in since it was implemented in 2022) are focused on engaging in preliminary exploitation activities and identifying potentially interested stakeholders in Gotland, Hamburg/Hannover, and the La Axarquia region, as well as potential market opportunities. During this time, the project is also developing a sustainable governance framework for nitrogen and phosphorus management.

In the following four years of the project, the outlined plan is to have greater communication with regional, national, and EU policymakers and stakeholders in order to implement the project, so this is when more measurable policy changes are set to occur. For now, the primary outcomes that can be observed from this effort are the spreading of awareness of the P2Green effort at conferences like EU Green Week in Brussels, which is being held from June 3-June 11 this year, and the 3rd Global Conference on Agriculture, which is being held from June 24-25 this year, and then building greater connections with interested stakeholders that are identified through these awareness-raising efforts.

The new governance structures I mentioned in my article are related to changing the governance of human sanitary waste in the pilot regions (Gotland, Hamburg/Hannover, and the La Axarquia region) so that nitrogen and phosphorus are extracted from human sanitary waste. This nitrogen and phosphorus is then used to create fertilizers that can be used during the agricultural production process. Therefore, the shift in governance structures involves the government entities that deal with sanitary waste in the noted regions extracting nitrogen and phosphorus from sanitary waste instead of leaving it untouched as is being done now.

Title and Email of Individuals Leading the Advocacy Effort:

Anita Beblek- Project Coordination Team Member- anita.beblek@agrathaer.de

Sven Moller- Project Coordination Team Member-sven.moller@agrathaer.de

Henrike Perner- Project Coordination Team Member-henrike.perner@agrathaer.de

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Image Courtesy of: https://p2green.eu

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard European Union Manager Brittany Demogenes.


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