This paper aims at bringing about an urgently required, scientific shift of perception in the field of biosolids management and phosphorus recovery from domestic wastewater. The paper shows that under a combination of the prevailing sludge, phosphorus and sustainability paradigms, the worldwide rapidly growing issue on biosolids production leads to a paradox that proper management cannot resolve alone. Change demands for a sound fundamental ecological approach in all sectors involved. To produce low quantities of biosolids of high fertilizing quality that can harmlessly be stored or, functionally applied in relation to agricultural demand is a master challenge for the future, not only technologically. A deep transformation of societal beliefs and structures, economic processes and environmental understanding is equally imperative. The traditional pillars of sustainability will collapse under the tons of daily sludge production unless individually fortified and collectively integrated in a fundamental ecological, single-bottom-line concept of sustainability. Moving forward by meticulously matching, in all domains, practice with ecological theory and science will develop the synergy required for progress and success. The best management device reverses to ‘act globally, think locally’.

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