The Water-wastewater-sludge Sector and the Circular Economy
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The objective of this paper is a theoretical and empirical analysis and evaluation of the role, importance and opportunities of the water-sewage-sludge industry in the implementation of the circular economy. To realize this objective, a review of both the literature and the EU strategic documents concerning the subject of the study was conducted. The applied research method is a descriptive analysis based on available statistical data (Eurostat, EEA, EIO and the Polish Central Statistical Office) as well as on source materials. The theoretical part of the work presents the essence of the circular economy and the general characteristics of the analyzed sector, with a particular focus on the potential for the recovery of water from sewage and the reuse of wastewater, as well as the recovery of phosphorus from the wastewater treatment, processing and disposal of sewage sludge. The results of the study show that: (1) there are significant links between the development goals of the water-sewage-sludge sector and the circular economy. (2) it is necessary to seek and implement new solutions and technologies leading to the increased recovery of energy and biogens from sewage sludge. (3) there are still many barriers to the recycling of rainwater and graywater as well as to the reuse of wastewater. (4) the circular economy creates new opportunities for water-sewage and sludge management at the local and national level.