Data_Sheet_1_Optimizing Nutrient Recycling From Excreta in Sweden and Pakistan: Higher Spatial Resolution Makes Transportation More Attractive.docx

Recycling essential plant nutrients like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) from organic waste such as human and animal excreta will be an essential part of sustainable food systems and a circular economy. However, transportation is often cited as a major barrier to increased recycling as organic waste is heavy and bulky, and distances between areas of abundant waste may be far from areas with a need for fertilizers. We investigated the effect of increased input data spatial resolution to an optimization model on the weight, distance, and spatial patterns of transport. The model was run in Sweden and in Pakistan to examine cost-effectiveness of transporting excess excreta to areas of crop need after local recycling. Increasing the resolution of input data from political boundaries (municipalities and districts) to 0.083 decimal grids increased the amount of N requiring transport by 12% in Pakistan and increased P requiring transport by 14% in Sweden. The average distance decreased by 67% (to 44 km) in Pakistan but increased by 1 km in Sweden. Further increasing the resolution to 5 km grids in Sweden decreased the average transportation distance by 9 km (down to 123 km). In both countries, increasing resolution also decreased the number of long-distance heavy transports, and as such costs did not increase as much as total distance and weight transported. Ultimately, transportation in Pakistan seemed financially beneficial: the cost of transport only represented 13% of the NPK fertilizer value transported, and total recycling could even cover 78% of additional fertilizer purchases required. In Sweden, the cost of transporting excreta did not seem cost effective without valuing other potential benefits of increased recycling: costs were three times higher than the fertilizer value transported in excreta at the 5 km resolution. In summary, increasing input data resolution created a more realistic picture of recycling needs. This also highlighted more favorable cost to fertilizer value ratios which could make it easier to move forward with industry and government partners to facilitate productive recycling. Our analysis shows that in both countries increased recycling can result in better spatial nutrient balances.