The regulation on the use of organic and waste-based fertilisers was the subject of a tripartite agreement on 13 December. Its aim is to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers in Europe. EURACTIV France’s media partner the Journal de l’environnement reports.
This new legislation was proposed by the European Commission in March 2016 as part of the Circular Economy Package. In particular, it introduces limits for contaminants, such as 60 milligrams per kilogram for cadmium (this limit will be further reviewed in four years), for both phosphate and organic fertilisers.
Moreover, fertilisers with less than 20mg/kg content will be able to use a voluntary low-cadmium label.
However, the 60mg/kg limit was described as “shocking” by Bérénice Dupeux from the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). She believed that this puts “economic interests before citizens’ health and our environment” and “will worsen the concentration of cadmium in our soils and contribute to sea pollution.” The European Parliament also supported a lower limit, of 20mg/kg.
30% of total?
All of these measures have been announced to reduce “waste, energy consumption and environmental damage,” stated the European Commission in a press release. This will also create a new market for reusing raw materials.
According to estimates from the European Commission, bio-waste – added to sewage sludge, meat and bone meal or manure – could replace 30% of non-organic fertilisers, while the EU imports around 6 million tonnes of phosphates a year.
Coming into effect in 2022
While the agreement still has to be officially approved by the European Parliament and the Council, it is expected to come into force from 1 January 2022, in a first in the EU.
Currently, only non-organic fertilisers, extracted from mines or produced chemically can be freely traded in the European Union. Only 5% of bio-waste is recycled and reused as fertiliser.