, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 408–416 | Cite as

Economic Feasibility Study for Phosphorus Recovery Processes

  • María Molinos-Senante
  • Francesc Hernández-Sancho
  • Ramón Sala-Garrido
  • Manel Garrido-Baserba


Phosphorus recovery from wastewater has become a necessity for sustainable development because phosphorus is a non-renewable essential resource, and its discharge into the environment causes serious negative impacts. There are no economic incentives for the implementation of phosphorus recovery technologies because the selling price of rock phosphate is lower than phosphorus recovered from sewage. The methodologies used to determine the feasibility of such projects are usually focused on internal costs without considering environmental externalities. This article shows a methodology to assess the economic feasibility of wastewater phosphorus recovery projects that takes into account internal and external impacts. The shadow price of phosphorus is estimated using the directional distance function to measure the environmental benefits obtained by preventing the discharge of phosphorus into the environment. The economic feasibility analysis taking into account the environmental benefits shows that the phosphorus recovery is viable not only from sustainable development but also from an economic point of view.


Cost–benefit analysis Economic feasibility Environmental benefits Phosphorus recovery Shadow prices Sustainable development 



The authors wish to acknowledge the financial assistance received from the Spanish government through the NOVEDAR-Consolider Project (CSD2007-00055) and FPU program (AP2007-03483). Also the authors are grateful to the Journal editor and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • María Molinos-Senante
    • 1
  • Francesc Hernández-Sancho
    • 1
  • Ramón Sala-Garrido
    • 2
  • Manel Garrido-Baserba
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Applied Economics II, Faculty of EconomicsUniversity of ValenciaValenciaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Mathematics for Economics, Faculty of EconomicsUniversity of ValenciaValenciaSpain
  3. 3.Catalan Institute for Water ResearchGironaSpain

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