Biosolids to Market. A strategic proposal to explore the threats to biosolids to land – now and in the future (SL 850/SL 1072 & SL 1060 Combined)
Project Status Project Completed
Note: As a strategic piece of work, this proposal would require clear guidance from the PSG members throughout the project’s execution to ensure that appropriate priorities are determined and used to focus the effort of successive activities and objectives
There are a growing number of reports that are driving concerns and exploratory questions regarding the suitability of the water industry’s approach to sewage sludge (biosolids) recycling and target waste stream valorisation.
These reports are making the connections between specific substances and their real or potential impacts upon the environment and/or Public Health. It focuses attention on the wastewater industry as a consequence of our role within the current WW management system and our obligation to consider the waste hierarchy and our resulting strategies for biosolids recycling.
While these reports may be based upon research, they can be from a single or pre-determined perspective and not holistic in their assessment – in terms of the pros and cons against all relevant stakeholders (considering those associated with the sources, pathways and receptors).
Failure to fully understand and to be able to respond comprehensively and appropriately in a timely and proactive manner, can leave us susceptible to manipulation and additional investment needs. Not having an evidence based response to the views being expressed could force the water industry to adopt a potentially suboptimal and reactionary response to the perceived threat.
There is a significant risk that a single threat (or combination) could severely reduce or close existing routes for biosolids recycling. This would, potentially force us to revert to the increasingly expensive and less desirable (financially and environmentally) incineration or landfill route and/or to seek alternative disposal/management routes.
In the absence of an independent and rigorous evidence base, our sector could be portrayed as failing to deliver against our overarching objectives of serving our customers and protecting the environment. We may be regarded as co-contributors to a problem if we continue to recycle for agricultural purposes.
By taking action now, we have an opportunity to mitigate against these growing threats. We can develop our understanding and knowledge and be in a position to:
- fully understandthe true threats;
- be able to respond proactively
- with an informed response;
- detailing the water industry requirements
- identify the changes
- ensure the continued protection of the environment, safeguarding public health and
- promote the effective and efficient operation of our processes and
- maintain our interactions within the wider system.
The range of issues that are currently gaining increased attention and which should be considered as part of the initial phase of the work, include:
- Sewage reduction factor substances (H1 risk list)
- Micro plastics
- Nano plastics
- Organic compounds
- Metals and inorganic chemicals
- Silver nanoparticles
- Pathogens (targeted)
- Combinations of concentrations of issues – as evidenced by pathogens and antibiotics & Silver nanoparticles acting as growth inhibitors of microorganisms
- Antibiotic/antimicrobial Resistant microorganisms