New HELCOM recommendation to promote sustainable sewage sludge handling
The new HELCOM Recommendation on sewage sludge handling outlines the basic principles for sewage sludge handling and the use of its valuable compounds in the Baltic Sea coastal countries. The Recommendation is a first step to promoting sustainable sludge handling. It paves the way for a regional dialog to create regionally agreed parameters assuring maximum utilization of the valuable components in the sludge while minimising potential negative effects.
Already in 2007, HELCOM adopted a Recommendation on municipal wastewater treatment which implementation has successfully reduced inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus to the Baltic Sea. In the largest waste water treatment plants at least 90 % of phosphorus and 70-80 % of nitrogen should be removed. Improving waste water treatment has resulted in generation of vast amount of phosphorus containing sludge. The new sewage sludge recommendation compliments the municipal waste water treatment recommendation by giving guidance on sustainable handing and utilization of sludge taking also into account the principles of circular economy and energy efficiency.