ECN e.V.

Network for Organic Resources and Biological Treatment
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ECN E-BULLETIN No. 14_2022
10 november 2022
EU Commission I Fertilisers Communication

ECN calls for more recycling of nutrients and organic matter from biowaste

Fertilisers play a significant role for food security. Their production and their cost largely depend on natural gas. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a global mineral fertiliser and energy crisis is now weighing on global food security and food prices. In this context, the European Commission presented a Communication on ensuring availability and affordability of fertilisers, on the 9th of November.
During the EU Expert Group meeting on Fertilisers on 24 September 2022, ECN has called to push for the recovery of nutrients from biowaste in the ‘Fertilisers Communication’, as biowaste is a valuable resource for providing nutrients and organic matter in sustainable organic fertilisers and soil improvers.
The overall potential of municipal biowaste is estimated between 118 and 138 million tonnes per year in the EU. Today, only 17 % of biowaste are recycled in composting and anaerobic digestion plants, which corresponds to 38 million tonnes of municipal biowaste per year. For reaching the overall recycling target of municipal solid waste of 65 % by 2035 there is a need to additionally collect 40 million tonnes of municipal biowaste separately. This will provide 40 million tonnes of compost per year, which can be used as organic fertiliser and soil improver on soils. The organic recycling of biowaste into compost and digestate does not only contribute to the energy and fertilisers crises but as well to mitigate climate change. The organic recycling keeps biowaste away from landfills, provides renewable energy (biogas & biomethane) and organic matter for soils (carbon sequestration).
The Commission underlines in its communication that ‘the substitution of mineral fertilisers by organic fertilisers is part of the solution to reduce the EU’s dependence on gas’ and ‘developing methods to extend efficient nutrient recycling of organic waste (e.g. livestock manure, anaerobic digestion, sludge and other organic waste streams) into renewable bio-based fertilising products contributes to the objectives of the Farm to Fork Strategy. An important element in this is the separation and collection of biowaste.’
For reducing the dependence of European agriculture on mineral fertilisers from outside the EU the European Commission has brought forward the following actions:
  • Public consultation on the revision of the urban waste-water treatment Directive (26/10/2022) which includes stricter obligations to recover nutrients from wastewater for being reused in agriculture;
  • Setting up an Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan at the beginning of 2023 by taking the circular use of biowaste as fertilisers into account.
Please access the EU Commission’s website on Food security, where further information is provided:
NGOs letter to EU Executive Vice-President Timmermans

Urgency of a nutrient management action plan reiterated by NGOs in letter to EU executives

Following the news of a European Commission’s upcoming fertiliser communication, a letter headed by the European Environmental Bureau and co-signed by ECN and other organisations was addressed to EU Vice-President and Commissioner for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans.
The document pleads with the Commissioner to focus the attention on the swift development of an Integrated Nutrients Management Action Plan (INMAP), which was announced in the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy and is expected to be launched by the end of 2022, but, according to the latest news, is delayed. The signatories highlight the importance of tackling nutrients flow, loss and recycling by means of a systemic and holistic approach, designating the INMAP as the best strategy to enact. Organisations stressed the inefficient management of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, whose surplus is largely exceeding planetary boundaries, calling for a reduction in synthetic fertilisers input by fostering their sustainable management and recycling to close the nutrient loop. Criticism on how the forthcoming Commission’s Fertiliser Strategy is facing the ongoing energy crisis was also raised, questioning its narrow framing and the lack of public and expert participation to the process.
All in all, the clear message of this letter is for the EU to steer clear from short-term and near-sighted solutions, underpinning a long-term vision to reach climate neutrality and to fully implement circularity.
EU Commission│ Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive │ Revision

Sludge re-use and recovery promoted to stimulate the recovery of crucial minerals and nutrients

The EU Commission presented the proposal for a Directive amending the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD) to address the remaining sources of urban pollution on 26th of October. The proposal was communicated together with other initiatives, forming together the Zero Pollution package and aiming at scaling up efforts against pollution in accordance with the EU overarching goal of living in a toxic-free environment by 2050.
The fitness check of the proposal carried out in 2019 identified three set of issues requiring further assessment and action, which are:
  1. Remaining pollution from urban sources, since the Directive focused on pollution from domestic sources paying less attention to other sources of urban pollution, which are now becoming dominant and carry with them new emerging pollutants.
  2. Alignment to the European Green Deal, especially combating climate change by reducing GHG emissions and enhancing circularity by improving sludge management for the recovery of nutrient and possible valuable organic.
  3. Insufficient and uneven level of governance, with evaluation showing that operator’s performance and transparency differ significantly from one to another, thus demanding improvement in monitoring and reporting methods.
Particularly, the article on sludge management has been completely updated taking into consideration the advancements made in the technological sector since 1991. The new art. 20 (previously art. 14) of the Directive now includes recycling and recovery of sludge in accordance with the waste hierarchy laid down in the Waste Framework Directive and the requirements of the Sludge Directive, with the EU Commission having the mandate to set minimum rates to ensure high recovery of critical materials such as phosphorus. This is in line with the future EU Critical Raw Materials Act to tilt the balance of power in such supply chains, and also has implications for the soil health proposal, flagship initiative of the EU Soil Strategy 2030.
An 8-week public consultation on the adopted proposal was launched on 27 October 2022 to allow stakeholders to provide their feedbacks, which is scheduled to close on 23 December.


Save The Day Eye Catch 26102022
5 December 2022 is the United Nations World Soil Day (WSD). This year's campaign, "Soils, where food begins" highlights the value of soil for food production, better nutrition, and healthy diets.
The soil beneath our feet is a world made up of organisms, minerals, and organic matter that supply humans and animals with food through plant growth. Just like us, soils need balanced and varied input of nutrients in appropriate quantities to be healthy. When crops are harvested, nutrients are removed from the soil. Nutrient deficient soils produce nutrient deficient plants, causing hidden hunger for more than 2 billion people worldwide.
Soils have no borders and are at risk. This year's WSD will focus on the importance of soils for nutrition while serving as a call to action and empathy for those who bear the brunt of these threats.
BVOR-Demodagen I 24-25 May 2023

BVOR-Demodagen - Outdoor machinery exhibition for bio-waste in the Netherlands

The ‘BVOR-Demodagen’ will take place at Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th of Mai 2023 at the compost plant from ‘Combinatie Afvalzorg & den Ouden vof’ in Brunssum, close to the German and Belgian border. The Demodagen are freely accessible for visitors.
Every two years, the BVOR (Dutch Association of Bio Waste Processors) organises the BVOR-Demodagen at one of the plants of their members. During the exhibition companies and organizations demonstrate machines and services for companies which make compost or biomass out of bio waste. Almost 40 machines are demonstrating their abilities. Shredders, chippers, windshifters, turnover machines, screening machines can be seen in action.
In the morning and afternoon there are organised tours (in Dutch). Inside, there is also more information from different exhibitors. Additionally to the companies with the machinery, there are organisations which have a link to the world of bio waste, e.g. consultancies, governmental organisations, weighing systems, certification.
More information can be found here.


SOFIE Summit I 17-19 January 2023

Summit of Organic and Organo Mineral Fertilisers Industries in Europe

The 2nd Summit of Organic and Organo Mineral Fertilisers Industries in Europe (SOFIE) will take place on January 17th-19th and will centre on how organic and organo-mineral fertiliser products and technologies deliver specific agronomic performance characteristics for farmers’ needs. The event is being co-organised by ESPP, ECOFI, Eurofema and Fertilizers Europe, with support of the International Fertiliser Society.
Click here for more information.
COMPOST 2023 I 24-27 January 2023

US Composting Council organizes COMPOST 2023

The COMPOST 2023 will take place on January 24th-27th, 2023 in Ontario California. Click here to register and for more information!

S.O.S Save Organics in Soil

This international initiative S.O.S. SOIL – Save Organics in Soil, led by the European Compost Network (ECN) and the Italian Composting and Biogas Association (CIC), aims to highlight the importance of soil organic matter to encourage policy makers to develop instruments to move Europe towards implementing sustainable, climate proof soil management practices.
Sign the manifesto 'Save Organigs in Soil' here.

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