Flows of nitrogen and phosphorus in municipal waste: a substance flow analysis in Finland

Laura Sokka, Riina Antikainen, Pekka Kauppi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are two nutrients contributing to several environmental problems, particularly eutrophication of surface waters. Leakages of these nutrients occur through human activity. In this study, the flows of N and P in the Finnish municipal waste system in 1952-1999 were determined and analysed using substance flow analysis (SFA). Nutrient flows in both wastewaters and solid waste peaked in 1990, after which they declined until 1994 but thereafter increased again although remaining lower than in 1990. At the end of the 1990s the wastewater and solid waste from municipalities and rural households contained ca. 7.0 kg N person-1 a-1 and 1.1 kg P person-1 a-1. Untreated wastewater contained three times more N and four times more P than solid waste. The amounts of N and P involved in recycling increased over the study period being 10% for N and 50% for P at the end of the 1990s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-186
JournalProgress in Industrial Ecology
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Finland
  • municipal solid waste
  • municipal wastewater
  • nitrogen
  • phosphorus
  • substance flow analysis
  • time series


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