The Circular Economy Package will begin with a new regulation on the use of waste products in fertilisers, which could cut the EU’s phosphate imports by a third. EURACTIV’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.
European farmers could soon be replacing their traditional inorganic fertiliser with sewage sludge, biodegradable waste, bone meal and manure. These organic waste products will now be subject to a new European regulation aimed at cutting waste and encouraging the use of organic fertilisers.
The reuse of these natural raw materials, which currently go to waste, is one of the cornerstones of the Circular Economy Package, adopted in December 2015 by the Commission. In the long-term, the EU hopes that bio-waste will replace up to 30% of the inorganic fertilisers currently used.
Six million tonnes of phosphate
“Very few of the abundant bio-waste resources are transformed into valuable fertilising products,” said Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. “Our farmers are using fertilisers manufactured from imported resources or from energy-intensive processes although our industry could valorise these bio-wastes in recycled nutrients. This Regulation will help us turn problems into opportunities for farmers and businesses.”
And it could help the EU reduce its phosphate imports by up to a third, from six million tonnes per year to four million. The new rule will also rectify the major shortcomings of the 2003 regulation, which “failed to address environmental concerns arising from contamination by fertilisers of soil, inland waters, sea waters, and ultimately food”.
The regulation follows the classic formula: safety, quality and labelling. Producers of fertilisers will have to demonstrate that their products do not exceed the limits fixed for organic contaminants, microbial contaminants and physical impurities before they can be awarded the CE mark, a mandatory proof of conformity with EU standards.
The maximum permitted cadmium content of phosphate fertiliser will be reduced from 60 milligrams per kilo to 40 mg/kg after three years, and to 20mg/kg after 12 years. It is now up to the Parliament and the Council to examine the text.