Problems in the sewage sludge management. Will the circular economy help?

Problems in the sewage sludge management. Will the circular economy help?

Polish internet portal of the municipal economy industry decided to take a closer look at the current situation on the sewage sludge sector. Published article presents the problem of the lack of solutions and legal regulations designed directly for sewage sludge.

According to the portal: “Rising amounts of sewage sludge are mainly related to the implementation of the National Program for Municipal Sewage Treatment, under which new sewage treatment plants are created, and old sewage treatment plants are modernized. In 2018, the estimated amount of sewage sludge produced in Poland is around 700,000 tonnes.”
The author of the article accuses that the existing solutions used in the management of sewage sludge do not work. Thermal treatment of sewage sludge was considered the main method, which was to cover in 2018 about 60% (about 424 thousand tonnes) of the total weight of this waste. This has not happened and thermal processing of sediments still accounts for only a few percent.

Marek Gromiec (author of the article) combines the possibilities of using sewage sludge with the current trend of introducing a circular economy: –“There is a convergence of the circular economy with modern water and sewage management and sedimentary management. In addition to the traditional role of wastewater treatment plants – treatment and treatment of wastewater, their new role is the production of various types of resources (especially water and biogenic substances) and energy. This makes it necessary to take into account the coherence and integration of water supply, sewage treatment and sewage sludge processing already at the level of general concepts.”

Unfortunately, the attempts to establish actions and strategies for pro-environmental sludge management do not bring the intended results. Work begun on developing a strategy for sewage sludge for 2014-2020 has been abandoned by the Ministry of the Environment. In turn, the Ministry of Economy, by introducing a ban on the storage of high-calorific waste on January 1, 2016, introduced a ban on the storage of sewage sludge. Sludges according to the Waste Act are treated as waste, although currently in Poland we do not have adequate infrastructure for the processing (recycling and management) of sludge.

Currently, the Ministry of the Environment is working on a strategy for sewage sludge for 2018-2020.
The draft document defines strategic goals as well as activities and tasks aimed at achieving these goals. The activities catalog includes, among others:

  • increasing control over the quality of industrial sewage flowing into the municipal wastewater treatment plant,
  • clarification of the provisions regarding the treatment of sewage sludge in sewage treatment plants.

The Department of Waste of the Ministry of the Environment, responsible for the preparation of the document, examines comments submitted to the draft strategy. Although the middle of 2018 has passed, we can not hear about the completion of works.

In the Polish water and wastewater management there is no modern legislation regarding the processing and management of sewage sludge.The initiative of innovation in this area rests mainly on local governments and depends mainly on the courage and far-sightedness of the management boards of municipal sewage treatment plants.

6  July, 2018

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