Infoscience

Journal article

Losses and efficiencies of phosphorus on a national level – A comparison of European substance flow analyses

tThe sustainable management of phosphorus (P), an essential element for life, is currently discussed inten-sively in research and policy. In order to provide a data basis for national P strategies, various substanceflow analyses (SFA) of P on a national level have been published in recent years. The quantification offlows and stocks helps to identify hot-spots and potentials for sustainable measures within the particu-lar country analysed. However, the national SFAs that have been conducted so far differ with regard totheir system definitions, i.e. the processes, flows and stocks identified. This makes comparisons betweencountries difficult, hinders the transnational transfer of lessons learnt and hampers supranational policyefforts. Therefore, we (i) develop a standardised visualisation format, i.e. a blueprint, which allows fortransnational comparability and facilitates future national SFAs of P; (ii) present a systematic compara-tive analysis of seven European SFAs (Austria, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerlandand the United Kingdom) using fluxes, indicators and cluster analysis; and (iii) to exemplarily show theadded value of a linkage between material flow analysis and social system analysis. Our results showregional disparities with regard to losses and efficiencies of current national P use and to the potential ofsecondary P to increase national self-sufficiency. The countries analysed can be categorised in three clus-ters providing a first classification according to selected variables comprising key flows and indicators.By using the current discussion on the application of sewage sludge on agricultural land in Germany asan example, we show the added value of the integration of flow and governance analyses.

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