The way excess sludge must be disposed of is a key factor in the choice of the appropriate phosphorus removal technique at municipal wastewater treatment plants. In Europe the ongoing trend of tightening the sludge spreading rules called for a serious reduction of its agricultural utilisation and the expansion of the (co-)incineration disposal route, which led to a shift towards more sophisticated sludge handling techniques. This paper illustrates the impact of different sludge handling techniques on the performance of chemical and enhanced biological phosphorus removal at municipal WWTPs. The main conclusion is that although enhanced biological phosphorus removal is particularly sensitive to the problem of return liquors from sludge treatment processes indirect dewatering and anaerobic stabilisation cannot be discarded altogether when considering its implementation.

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