21 11 2018

A new EU provisional agreement on recycled and organic fertilisers

On Tuesday 20 November, the European Parliament and the Council agreed on new rules enabling access to the EU single market for fertilisers made from organic or recycled materials. The agreement represents a success of long negotiations on rules on fertilisers, already started in 2016, when the Commission announced a legislative proposal on fertilizing products, in line with the circular economy plan. […]

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Currently only 5% of waste organic material is recycled and used as fertilizers; but if more bio-waste is recycled, non-organic fertilizer can be replaced up to 30%. Neverthless, the existing 2003 Fertilisers Regulation harmonizes only the EU conventional fertilisers market, and it does not cover nearly a half of fertilisers on the EU market. This also resulted in difficulties for producers of organic fertilisers to sell and use them across the EU single market due to diverging national legislations.

In this sense, the new deal provisionally agreed marks a significant overcoming of the EU current rules as it includes all types of fertilisers (mineral, organic, soil improvers, growing matters, etc.) and it is aimed at:

– promoting an increased use of recycled materials for producing fertilisers, for supporting the development of circular economy and reducing dependence on imported nutrients;

– making it easier the market access for innovative, organic fertilisers, giving farmers and consumers a wider choice and promoting green innovation;

– establishing EU-wide quality, safety and environmental criteria for “EU” fertilisers (i.e. those which can be traded in the whole EU single market).

The new rules also include reasonable limits for contaminants, especially for cadmium, which can be reviewed after seven years from entry into force. At the same time, voluntary low cadmium label may be added on products having a cadmium content lower than 20 mg/kg. Still, incentives for developing decadmiation technologies and for managing cadmium-rich hazardous waste are envisaged.

The agreement needs to be confirmed by the EU Member States ambassadors and the European Internal Market Committee IMCO. Then it will be put to a vote by the Parliament in plenary session and formally approved by the EU Council of Minister.