Land application of sewage sludge has long been subject to concern. Among the reasons for these concerns are, for example, the occurrence of odours and the risk of spreading heavy metals and pathogens, but also a negative perception regarding the use of sludge. In this paper, we focus the actors' perceptions of sewage sludge use and investigate, through a series of interviews with key actors and stakeholders in the sewage sludge management chain, how technology, the regulatory framework or public perception may function as barriers for valuing sewage sludge as a resource. The uncertainty following outdated legislation and constantly changing policies are frequently mentioned as the main barriers to investment in new technologies, which, in the respondents' opinion, creates a deadlock within the sector with no clear path forward. Although all respondents act and argue with a focus on environment and circularity, their overall sludge management strategies, as well as the issues they focus on, differ. Our study indicate that Swedish sludge management is, to a large extent, siloed and there is a clear a need for a more holistic approach that can help actors to target common issues.

  • Agricultural use of sewage sludge is a controversial topic.

  • Through semi-structured interviews, the perception of stakeholders is investigated.

  • The topic is currently in a vacuum with no clear path forward.

  • Outdated legislation fosters uncertainty among the stakeholders.

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