Chris Thornton- European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform

  • Chris Thornton manages the European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP), promoting sustainable phosphorus management in Europe, from agricultural use through the food industry to recycling from waste streams.  ESPP is non-profit, funded by members which include water and waste companies, fertilisers, chemicals, recycling technologies, knowledge institutes and public establishments.

    Proposed title of talk

    Nutrients: the foundation of food sustainability

     

    Synopsis

    Nutrients, alongside water and energy, are the basis of farming and the food-industry, and their content in food is vital for health. However, there are also questions about the impacts of current levels of nutrients in Western diets. Phosphorus is thus sometimes positive (c.f. Blédina’s ‘Phosphatine’) sometimes negative (from phosphate-free detergents to phosphate free ham?). Also, nutrient use in agriculture today is largely linear, with input of chemical fertilisers and losses to waste or the environment. This poses sustainability challenges, includingdepletion of non-renewable mineral resources (phosphate rock is on the EU Critical Raw Materials list), energy consumption (nitrogen fertiliser production) and environmental impacts (eutrophication, groundwater nitrates, atmospheric ammonia). Urbanisation and geographical concentration of livestock production lead to disposal challenges for nutrients in sewage biosolids, urban organic wastes and manures. Today, policy makers are moving to develop the nutrient Circular Economy, opening new business opportunities for nutrient stewardship and recycling. Industry success stories will be presented and the question asked: How can the food and beverage industry integrate nutrient sustainability challenges and opportunities into supply and product strategies?

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