As part of its move towards a more circular economy (one of whose core principles is the reuse of raw materials currently disposed of as waste), the European Union has recently revised its legislation on fertilising products, with a view to fostering the use of fertilisers produced from organic or recycled materials. The new rules open up the EU single market to organic and bio-waste-based fertilisers by granting them access to CE marking, which 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).
Fertilisers boost agricultural production by nourishing crops and supporting soil productivity. There are, however, issues associated with their use, for instance, the loss of nutrients into the environment (due to leaching into thewater, run-off from fields or emissions); and the presence, in some fertilisers, of substances considered harmful to the environment and to human health. For enhanced safety and environmental protection, the newly adopted law sets limits for contaminants in CE-marked products, notably for heavy metals such as cadmium, which can be found in mineral phosphate fertilisers. It also introduces, for all CE-marked fertilisers, common requirements on quality (such as minimum nutrient content and organic matter content) and on labelling.
The new law was published in the Official Journal in June 2019 and will apply in full from 16 July 2022.