Phosphorus recovery from domestic wastewater: A review of the institutional framework

J Environ Manage. 2024 Feb:351:119812. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.119812. Epub 2023 Dec 14.


Phosphorus (P) is an essential element for life that must be managed sustainably. The institutional framework for P recovery from wastewater includes policies, regulations, plans, and actions that promote the recovery, recycling, and safe use of this element, aimed at moving toward more sustainable nutrient management and environmental protection. This review analyzes the status of the institutional framework for P recovery from wastewater in different countries around the world. Europe is the continent where the most progress has been made in terms of legislation. Countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Denmark have already implemented policies and regulations that promote environmental protection, as well as P recovery and reuse. In other parts of the world, such as the United States, China, and Japan, there have also been significant advances in promoting the closure of the P cycle, with the implementation of advanced recovery technologies in wastewater treatment plants and regional/national action plans. By contrast, in Latin America there has been little progress in P treatment and recovery, with a weak regulatory framework, unclear goals, and insufficient allocation of techno-economic resources. In this context, it is necessary to reinforce the comprehensive institutional framework, which covers technological aspects, economic incentives, political agreements, and regulations, to promote the sustainable management of this valuable resource.

Keywords: Institutional framework; Legislation; Phosphorus; Recovery; Recycling; Wastewater.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Phosphorus*
  • Policy
  • Recycling
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid
  • Wastewater*


  • Wastewater
  • Phosphorus