Global Biosolids Market

Global Industry Analysis (2017 – 2020) – Growth Trends and Market Forecast (2021 – 2025)



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Biosolids: An Effective Out-of-Waste Material

It is estimated that around 80% (90% in developing countries) of the wastewater, worldwide, is released into the environment untreated. Wastewater sewage contains nutrients that can be used for agriculture purpose. As the resources around the world become scarce and expensive, it is important to convert wastewater into a beneficial asset. Biosolids are organic materials derived from the wastewater treatment of domestic and industrial sewage sludge. Biosolids have gathered a significant movement as an alternative to dispose of digested municipal sludge.

In 2018, biosolids market was valued at US$1.4 Bn and is expected to reach US$1.9 Bn by 2025, registering a healthy growth of 4.7% between 2021 and 2025. It is estimated that more than 35 million tons of biosolids were produced (for beneficial use) around the globe in the year 2018. Europe alone accounted for more than 25% of the global consumption in 2018. European Commission and European Governments have supported biosolids as best environmental solutions for waste disposal. The U.S., largest producer in North America, consumes most of the biosolids for land application.

Countries in Asia Pacific region such as China and India are investing in the development of sludge management strategies and selecting better routes for sludge treatment and disposal instead of adopting landfilling and incineration. China is projected to surpass North America in the coming years as the country has invested heavily in wastewater treatment technologies for environmental protection.

Class A and Class A (EQ) to Account for 50% Share in Global Biosolids Market

Based upon regulations, biosolids can be classified as Class A, Class B, and Class A (EQ). Class A biosolids are free of pathogens and can be used in applications where public contact is likely. Class A meets the standards set by governing bodies such as the U.S. EPA. On the other hand, Class B has low level of pathogens and is used in agricultural or land reclamation applications. However, due to bad odor, high vector attraction, and pathogens there is significant shift of customers from Class B to Class A and Class A (EQ). Together, they are expected to account for more than 50% of the total biosolids market by the end of forecast period. Furthermore, Class B also attracts a lot of attention from regulatory authorities and cannot be applied in home lawns and gardens.

In terms of consumption, agriculture accounted for more than 60% of the market in 2018. For their high nutrition value, containing micro and macro nutrients, biosolids in agriculture are used as fertilizers, soil replacement products or a soil conditioner. Other key applications of biosolids include forestry and landscaping, land reclamation, construction materials, and heat generation.

Government Backs Biosolids Management Program for Circular Economy

Foremost factor supporting the rising consumption of biosolids is increasing pressure from regulatory bodies to phase out landfilling, stringent regulations on wastewater, sewage treatment, and waste disposal. The European Union (EU) and the U.S. Government are closely scrutinizing landfill and incineration aspects and imposition of strict laws. Biosolids in land application offers greenhouse gas benefits with carbon recycling and nourishing vegetation for further CO2 capture. Biosolids has major role to play in circular economies. The recycling of biosolids into agriculture is recognised by the U.K. government and EU as the best environmental option.

Biosolids can eliminate need for commercial fertilizers. There is a growing trend towards the use of biosolids in amenity horticulture (floriculture, greenhouse container, arboriculture, etc.). Biosolids offers various benefits such as reducing the dependency on synthetic fertilizers, lower greenhouse emissions, improve water holding capacity, and improve soil structure. Biosolids are also expected to play an important role in treatment and reclamation of former mining sites as they can upgrade the mined land and assist in vegetation establishment.

Malodor Creating a Negative Perception among Consumers

In the past few years, malodor from biosolids has become a bothersome aspect in customer perception. Organizations such as EPA are emphasizing on need to get better support from the public to make these biosolids programs a successful model. Effectively and safely managing biosolids is also a major challenge for the community as they are produced in large quantities. Public and other stakeholders must understand that biosolids are the product of modern sanitation and are not optional. Treatment and disposal of wastewater solids is key to sanitation and waste management.

Transportation (and the cost of moving) of disposal water/waste and difficulties in raising capital for new plants are few factors likely to restrict the market growth.

Synergies with Fertilizer Companies Opens New Avenues for Biosolids Manufacturers

Companies operating in the biosolids market such as Cleanaway, SUEZ, Veolia, and Thames Water have integrated business operations. These companies offer end-to-end business solutions and hold strong positions in their respective regions. Companies are also coming up new strategies to form a partnership with fertilizer companies to develop new application avenues.

In 2019, Aries Clean Energy received approvals for its world’s first large scale biosolids gasification plant. This will convert waste into renewable energy and biochar. With the need of cost competitive technologies and innovation, many companies are expected to come up with disruptive technologies over the next few years to come. Companies in the U.S such as Mannco are focused on developing new technologies to produce low cost, energy efficient and exceptional quality (EQ) biosolids.

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