A1 Journal article (refereed), original research

Circular Economy for Phosphorus Supply Chain and its Impact on Social Sustainable Development Goals

Open Access hybrid publication

Publication Details
Authors: El Wali Mohammad, Rahimpour Golroudbary Saeed, Kraslawski Andrzej
Publisher: Elsevier
Publication year: 2021
Language: English
Related Journal or Series Information: Science of the Total Environment
ISSN: 0048-9697
eISSN: 1879-1026
JUFO-Level of this publication: 2
Open Access: Open Access hybrid publication
Location of the parallel saved publication: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fe202103016164


To be able to grow crops, we have interfered with Earth's reserves of one of top three essential elements, phosphorus (P), as to which we face a problem related to its high consumption compared to available resources. This forces us to follow the alternative of closing the phosphorus loop from a circular economy perspective. However, there is a lack of research on regional and global social sustainability in this area, as emphasized in the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 goals for sustainable development. In this paper, we address social challenges involved in global phosphorus supply chain, such as eradicating poverty, child labor and malnutrition; promoting gender equality; providing decent work and economic growth; maintaining sustainable water use; and achieving food security. Our research is driven by the question of whether the circular economy aims to direct phosphorus management towards tackling social issues associated with its supply chain. We use system dynamics modelling by combining the concept of material flow analysis and social life cycle assessment. Detailed analysis at regional and global levels indicates a paradoxical social impact of phosphorus circular model. This reflects the multiple stakeholders involved, and the regional interactions with phosphorus circular economy transitions. Improvements can be demonstrated in reducing poverty and providing safer work environment in many regions, e.g., Western Asia (93%), New Zealand, Central Asia, and Europe (44-61%), while achieving employment targets is limited in Northern and Eastern Europe. Circular model fails to promote gender equality, it also exacerbates exploitative child work problem for the Caribbean and most Africa. It provides sufficient nutrition to North America, Australia/New Zealand, and Northern Europe. It achieves water use targets in several regions with 53% savings worldwide. Finally, circular model contributes to P efficiency (average balance of 1.21 kgP/ha) and strengthens P security within most regions with an average of 64%.

Last updated on 2021-23-03 at 12:48