The project focus on the potentiality and sustainability of using domestic wastewater as a resource in Sweden and abroad, particularly the risks of environmental impacts by hazardous pollutants in the wastewater.
In response to the global issues of water shortage and mineral depletion, treated domestic wastewater is increasingly considered an alternative resource of water and nutrients. Issues related to water reuse are expected to strongly impact worldwide crop production and in turn global food security. Linear flows of nutrients from food to wastewater and into waterbodies cause pollution that is tipping the balance of our ecosystems. Closing the loop on resources in domestic wastewater can promote sustainable water usage and agricultural development in the future. Ability to reuse wastewater has many benefits. But it needs to be safe. Water treatments to remove hazardous pollutants could potentially be insufficient or ineffective and thus compromise safe wastewater reuse. The trade-off between wastewater reuse and potential emissions of hazardous pollutants leads to an essential research question:
How suitable and reliable is wastewater as a resource for a non-toxic circular economy?
This project will look into global cross-national and Swedish cross-regional differences in the reuse of municipal wastewater and sludge. It will also provide new solutions and management strategies to prevent risks of hazardous pollutants - especially contaminants of emerging concern (CEC), toxic metals, and microplastics - as the obstacle to wastewater as a resource.
This two-year research project is funded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket).