HELCOM adopts new 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, HELCOM said in its press release.
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.
The sewage sludge recommendation guides the safe handling of sewage sludge to prevent leaching of nutrients as well as hazardous substances and pathogens to the environment. It recommends reuse of the valuable components contained in the sludge, phosphorus in particular, and maximum utilization of its energetic potential through variable technological processes. The document also identifies basic principles for application of treated sewage sludge and products containing it in agriculture, land reclamation, green areas etc. to minimize negative impacts on the environment. The Recommendation encourages research and development of cost effectives solution as well as exchange of knowledge across the region.
The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the 'Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area', more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention.