Programme for nutrient recycling

Promoting the recycling of nutrients is at the heart of the circular economy. The way nutrients needed for cultivation are now being used is unsustainable, both globally and in Finland. For example, only 20–25% of the phosphorus contained in minerals ends up on our plates as lots of nutrients are being lost in the food chain from primary production to households. Nutrients ending up in waters, in Finland ultimately in the Baltic Sea, cause eutrophication.

There is great potential in terms of a circular economy especially in more efficient utilisation of different kinds of organic side streams e.g. as raw material of renewable energy and fertiliser products. Recycled biomass can also be used to manufacture growing media and bedding materials that substitute for peat. The phosphorus in mineral fertilisers needed for the current plant production practices could in the long term be almost completely replaced by the phosphorus reserves contained in the organic side streams that are currently being created. The phosphorus contained in animal manure alone could cover as much as 65% of the need for phosphorus fertiliser in Finland’s arable lands. It is important to design and implement the raw material cycle in such a way that the manufacturing process and end-use of the products do not cause harm to humans or the environment.

The Programme for Nutrient Recycling consists of a programme to promote research, development and innovation (RDI) activities on nutrient recycling and an investment aid programme for biogas production, manure processing, nutrient recycling and carbon sequestration. The government grant authority awarding project and investment aid under this national programme is the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for South Ostrobothnia. 

Website of the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (in Finnish): 

Under the programme, broad-based work has been done to promote a circular economy in the use of nutrients and the recovery and reuse of nutrients and energy contained in biomass. Since August 2020 almost EUR 14 million in total has been committed to the projects. The number of projects launched so far is 53 and 6 projects have received a positive funding decision. The total cost estimate of the projects, i.e. the benefit to the nutrient recycling sector, is more than EUR 25 million.

Separate thematic projects and studies and surveys on the sector have been conducted as well.

Further information

Sanna Tikander, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Food Department, Unit for Rural Development Telephone:0295162178   Email Address: