Phosphate: local availability in a global perspective

Phosphorus (P) and phosphate (PO4) are essential for plant growth and thus for all life, the health of humans and animals. The global inventory P, usually in the form of the mineral, is finite. Compared with energy this issue gets relatively little attention while the impacts over time, be more severe.

Estimates of the term of the depletion of the P stock is between 50 and 250 years. The large variation in these estimates depends, in addition to uncertainty about proven reserves, together with whether or not to take account of increased global P-demand. The consequences of a future P deficiency can be serious, because P is not a renewable resource.

It is obvious to regard phosphate as a valuable raw material and not as a surplus of product as is usually the case. For efficient use of phosphate it is necessary to achieve a good picture of places of accumulation and the size of streams in the Netherlands, also outside agriculture. It is unclear how much phosphate at national level for the agricultural is preserved and the possibilities of recovery, but also how much phosphate is inactivated, or otherwise lost. On this basis scenarios are calculated with the aim to achieve a sustainable use of phosphate. The possibilities (technical, socio-economic) of recycling are also involved.

The result is durable use of phosphate.