ECN e.V.

Network for Organic Resources and Biological Treatment
ECN E-BULLETIN No. 11_2020
26 November 2020
In cooperation with the Compost Council of Canada (CCC) and the Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland (Cré) we would like to celebrate the World Soil Day 2020 with an compost online session on 'Healthy Food with Healthy Soil' on Thursday (3 December 2020) from 4:00 to 5:00 pm.

On the occasion of World Soil Day 2020 and the Save Organics in Soil Initiative please join us to learn about the RESULTS of the 5-Year Agricultural Research Trial in Manitoba, Canada with a focus on the soil and nutritional health benefits realized through compost applications on vegetable crops.

Presented by: Lord Abbey Dalhousie University
Date: Thursday December 3rd, 2020
Start Time: 10 am (EST) Canada, 3pm (GMT) Ireland and 4pm Central Europe (CET)

Register and join in and hear the results of this remarkable research here.

Please download the event programme here.

World Soil Day 2020

Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity

Wsd Logo
World Soil Day 2020 (#WorldSoilDay) and its campaign "Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity" aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil biodiversity loss, increasing soil awareness and encouraging governments, organizations, communities and individuals around the world to commit to proactively improving soil health.

The Global Partnership on Soil of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) will celebrate the World Soil Day 2020 with a Global Ceremony on Friday 4th December 2020.

Please access more information here.

EU Commission

Public consultation on the Sewage Sludge Directive open

The Sewage Sludge Directive 86/278/EEC was adopted to encourage the correct use of sewage sludge in agriculture and to regulate its use in order to prevent harmful effects on soil, vegetation, animals and humans.

The use of sludge in agriculture is an effective alternative for chemical fertilisers, as it is rich in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous. Sludge also contains valuable organic matter that is useful when soils are depleted or subject to erosion. Recycling of materials, in line with circular economy principles, is high on the EU agenda. However it is also important that what is used as a resource is not contaminated, otherwise recycling will result in increasing pollution of soil, water and/or air.

The Circular Economy Action Plan adopted on 11 March 2020 commits the Commission to consider revising the Sewage Sludge Directive. To inform this reflection, this evaluation aims to see whether the law is doing what it is meant to do, whether its objectives are still relevant today, and whether the costs arising from the requirements of the law are justified.

The results of this consultation (feedback period 20/11/2020 – 05/03/2021) will feed into the evaluation work. Please take part in the consultation here.


Biorepack and the first EPR scheme for compostable packaging

On 14 November the Italian Ministries of Environment and Economic Development have approved the Statute of Biorepack, the first consortium in the World in charge of the implementation of an extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme on compostable packaging.

The consortium was set up to help achieve the recycling and recovery objectives of packaging waste and packaging materials produced in the national territory. In particular, the Consortium will rationalize, organize, guarantee, promote and encourage the collection of compostable plastic packaging waste, its labeling and recognition by citizens/consumers, for the purpose of the correct management of these materials as part of the separate collection of biowaste, thus avoiding contamination with other waste streams and fighting false environmental declarations.

Biorepack will support the organic recycling of compostable packaging waste as well, together with the use of compost, biogas, biomethane and the other products and materials obtained from composting and AD processes.

Alongside with compostable materials and packaging producers, the Italian organic recycling sector will be involved in the management of Biorepack, due to its active role in the life cycle of compostable items. In fact, it is worth remembering that, based on a recent monitoring conducted by the Italian Composting and Biogas Association (CIC) between 2019 and 2020, it is estimated that almost 4% of the foodwaste collected in Italy consists of compostable items, mainly made of shoppers and bags for the separate collection. This represents a significant growth, compared to the previous data of the period 2016-2017, when compostable items were estimated representing 1.5% of foodwaste. The organic recycling sector has proven to be capable to manage these flows so far, since the monitoring activities have shown that compost and the rejects produced at the end of the biological process were substantially free of compostable plastic materials. It has to be stressed on this purpose that Italy has a long lasting tradition in the utilisation of compostable bags for the separate collection of foodwaste that, when applied, has guaranteed an overall improvement in the quality of the organic waste collected and recycled; the recycling facilities have then been able, over the time, to successfully manage both the organic waste and its compostable “casing”.

The growing market of compostable materials will have to be governed indeed, both in terms of acceptability of the specific types of items and their clear recognizability; on the other side the organic recycling sector will have to adapt to a feedstock that is likely to change some of its features, optimizing the layout of the plants in order to guarantee to comply the stringent recycling performances that have been set by European Circular Economy Package, that has been transposed in the Italian legislation on 3 September. This of course represents a real challenge that Biorepack is about to take up, and that the Italian Composting and Anaerobic digestion operators will closely follow in order to keep the driving role in sustainable waste management that has always characterised this sector.

For further information please contact the Italian Composting and Biogas Association (CIC)

Country Reports

Some of the ECN members have revised the Country reports for their country this year:
Denmark, Flanders (Belgium), Italy, Austria, Lithuania, Estonia
We present a summary of three reports in this E-bulletin. The remaining three will follow in the next edition.


The Danish government launched in 2013 a strategy on resources called “Denmark without Waste”. Wastes are now seen as material resources that must be recovered and reused. For household waste the recycling target is set 50% in 2022. That target can only be reached if biogenic organic household waste is recycled. The recycling rate for household waste increased from 2016 being 46,7% to 48,2% in 2018.

More municipalities have started separation of food waste and other fraction for recycling. Separate collection of food waste from households rose from 61.700 ton in 2017 to 95.300 ton in 2018. The amount of green waste has increased from 751.000 ton in 2012 to 929.000 ton in 2018. It has been allowed to use the woody part as a carbon neutral energy, when incinerated. The target is that 25% of green waste will be used as fuel.

Anaerobic Digestion has a long tradition in Denmark in particularly for pig slurry, manure and sewage. Energy production from biogas rose from 12.2 GJ in 2016 to 20.5 GJ in 2018. This energy increase is coming primarily from agricultural residues, but to make the manure-based plants feasible more energy rich fractions like biogenic organic household waste is needed since food industry waste is already used to a large extend at the farm driven AD plants.

There is a specific focus on recycling of phosphor, which within a limited timeframe will become a scarce resource. This focus is broadened out for compost, sewage sludge and manure etc.
At present (Autumn 2020) The amount of organic waste from households rose from 26.000 ton to 95.200 ton (2012 to 2018). That is still less than 20% of the potential. Organic waste from industry (primarily food production) rose from 92.000 ton to 158.000 ton (2016 to 2018). Organic waste from trade (supermarkets etc.) rose from 46.000 ton to 151.000 ton (2016-2018).

The full report of the Danish Biomass Recycling Association (Genanvend Biomasse) and Solum can be accessed here.


Flanders (Belgium)

In 2019 90 plants treated more than 2,5 million tonnes of organic waste materials: 645.000 tonnes of green waste and 345.000 tonnes of biowaste (vfg - vegetable, fruit and garden waste) are treated in composting plants to produce 436.000 tonnes of compost.

The digestate is treated in different post-treatment steps, to obtain different end-products: whole digestate, liquid fraction, solid fraction, effluent, concentrate and dried digestate. In anaerobic digestion, in addition to biowaste, also energy crops and manure is treated. In total 1.450.000 tonnes of digestate products were produced in 2019.
Vlaco npo is the reference centre in Flanders in relation to composting and digestion, both centralised and at home. Vlaco tries to reach a smart market for green organic soil improvers and fertilisers. The figure below shows the market for Vlaco-compost.
compost market
The full country report of Vlaco for the Flemish region can be accessed here.


In 2018 the total amount of biowaste collected in Italy was 7.1 Mt , that currently accounts for more than 40% of all MSW separately collected and sent to recycling (i.e. including packaging waste and other municipal waste streams). In Italy the national legislation has introduced in 2006 ambitious targets, namely a 65% MSW Source Separation Level (SSL) for each municipality.

Today, biowaste, and particularly food waste from residential source separation, is clearly addressed as the first waste fraction to tackle for municipalities planning to reach the very high source separation targets set by the National law. These high SSLs have been easily achieved by thousands of municipalities in Italy, above all through the so-called “kerbside collection programs”, focusing on food waste collection with the typical Italian scheme.

In 2018 biowaste collected separately in Italian municipalities has reached 7.1 Mt, made of 5.1 Mt or 84 kg/inh/y of food waste (with an increase of about 12% compared to the previous year), while 2,0 Mt (or 33 kg/inh/y) are represented by garden waste , thus almost getting to 117 kg per-capita.

According to the data provided by the Italian Environment Agency’s annual report and subsequent elaboration by CIC, in 2018 n° 281 composting plants and n° 58 Anaerobic Digestion (integrated with composting) facilities were in operation recycling biowaste and other organic waste (sludge from waste-water treatment plants and other organic waste from agro-industries and others) produced in the Country, for an overall amount of 7.8 Mt of waste treated.

The full country report of CIC can be accessed here.
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