EU Revises Rules in Favour of More Organic Fertilisers

Published on November 8th 2019
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The European Union has recently revised its’ legislation on fertilising products.
These new rules aim to encourage the use of fertilisers produced from organic or recycled materials.
Fertilising products are used to improve plant growth by nourishing crops and supporting soil productivity in both agriculture and in gardening. The main nutrients in fertilisers are usually nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
There are, however, issues associated with their use. For example, the presence of substances in some fertilisers which are considered harmful to the environment or to human health.
These new rules open up the EU single market to organic and bio-waste-based fertilisers, by granting them access to ‘CE’ marking. This marking allows a product to be traded freely across the EU, providing it meets specific legal requirements. This was previously only possible for conventional, inorganic fertilisers (typically extracted from mines or produced chemically).
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For enhanced safety and environmental protection, the newly adopted law sets limits for contaminants in CE-marked products. In particular, for heavy metals such as cadmium, which can be found in mineral phosphate fertilisers. It also introduces common requirements on quality, for example stipulating a minimum nutrient content or organic matter content.
The revised regulation does not only include a much wider scope of fertilisers, but also a new limit on the content of cadmium in phosphorus fertilisers. This limit will be set and implemented at 60 mg/kg, directly after the new regulation comes into effect.
“The provisional agreement of this regulation in the European Parliament is a great step forward to realise a circular economy in Europe” said Stefanie Siebert, executive director of the European Compost Network. “The new regulation will open the European market for innovative and recycled organic fertilising products, like compost and digestate. Harmonised criteria and mandatory limits for all fertilising products will…protect human health and the environment.”
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The three European institutions: Commission, Council as well as the Parliament agreed on this after nearly two years of negotiations. The agreement was endorsed the Council on 12 December 2018 and by the IMCO committee on 22 January 2019. Parliament formally adopted the text in plenary on 27 March 2019. The Council did so on 21 May. The final act was signed by the co-legislators on 5 June 2019. The new law was published in the Official Journal in June 2019, and will apply in full from 16 July 2022.
This comes as the new European Commission puts increased emphasis on green issues, for example with Commissioner Timmermans’ ‘Green Deal’, and an increased focus on climate issues from across the European Parliament.
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