Amplifying Progress toward Multiple Development Goals through Resource Recovery from Sanitation

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The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize that current sanitation gaps must be closed to better serve those without access to safely managed systems (Target 6.2: universal sanitation coverage) and those connected to sewers without wastewater treatment (Target 6.3: halving the proportion of untreated wastewater). Beyond mitigating environmental and health concerns, implementing resource recovery sanitation systems could simultaneously improve the availability of agricultural nutrients (SDG 2) and household energy (SDG 7). This study estimates the potential for global, regional, and country-level resource recovery to impact nutrient and household electricity use through 2030. We distinguish impacts from newly installed sanitation systems (to achieve universal coverage), newly treated wastewater systems (to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater), and existing system replacement, while also considering urban and rural disparities and spatial colocation of nutrients with agricultural needs. This work points toward country-specific strategies for deriving the greatest benefit from sanitation investments while also identifying overarching trends to guide international research efforts. Globally, potential nutrient gains are an order of magnitude larger than electricity (a small fraction of total energy), and considerable impacts are possible in the least-developed countries, six of which could double or offset all projected nutrient and electricity use through newly installed sanitation systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10765-10776
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 19 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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