EU institutions agree on Fertilising Products Regulation

The new rules will boost the use of organic and waste-based fertilisers

After months of trialogue negotiations, the European Parliament, Council and Commission have reached a preliminary political agreement on the Commission’s proposal from March 2016. The new rules will facilitate the access of organic and waste-based fertilisers to the EU Single Market, introducing limits for cadmium and other contaminants in phosphate fertilisers.

Fertilising products from organic materials are currently outside the scope of the current Fertilisers Regulation in force, which means only non-organic fertilisers can be freely be traded across the EU. The access of organic fertilisers to the single market is at the moment dependent on mutual recognition between Member States. According to estimates, if more bio-waste was recycled, it could replace up to 30 % of non-organic fertilisers and considerably reduce EU dependence on fertilisers imports.

The agreement on the new Fertilising Products Regulation will open the market for organic fertilisers by defining the conditions under which these can access the EU Single Market. The Regulation for the first time introduces limits for toxic contaminants, including a new 60 mg/kg limit for cadmium which will be further reviewed 4 years after the date of application. This will guarantee a high level of soil protection and reduce health and environmental risks, while allowing producers to adapt their manufacturing process to comply with the new limits.

The proposed regulation will help to reduce waste and energy consumption. “Unlike traditional fertilisers which are highly energy intensive and rely on scarce natural resources, bio-waste fertilisers have the potential to make farming more sustainable. These new rules will also help to create a new market for reused raw materials in line with our efforts to build a circular economy in Europe” explained the EC Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen after the agreement was reached.

EBA has been actively involved in the discussions and the Technical Working Group preparing the new regulation, which will enable the commercialisation of digestate and fermentation products obtained from biogas as fertilisers. This issue was discussed also last April during a workshop organised in cooperation with the ESPP platform. In October, EBA and other EU organisations addressed a joint letter to the EU representatives involved in the development of the new regulation urging them to finalise the trialogue negotiations.

The agreement is now subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and Council. The Regulation will then be directly applicable in all Member States and will become mandatory in 2022.