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EU fertiliser regulations will 'exclude AD digestate'

Anaerobic digestion (AD) operators across the EU have urged the European Commission to tone down proposed quality requirements for fertiliser production from organic waste.

Under draft EU fertiliser regulations currently making their way through the European Parliament, organic fertilisers produced by AD facilities are in theory able to be marketed as an official circular economy commodity.

In its response to a consultation on the regulations, the European Biogas Association (EBA) said AD was the “best option” for treating organic wastes and by-products to produce energy and fertilisers.

But it said it was “incomprehensible” that the draft rules appeared to exclude raw digestate produced by AD facilities as the minimum nutrient limits were set too high.

EBA – which counts the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association and Renewable Energy Association’s (REA) Biogas Group as members – called on the European Commission to “adopt achievable criteria”.

In its consultation submission, EU trade body FEAD – of which the UK’s Environmental Services Association is a member – also called on the Commission to make the nutrient requirements achievable.

In March the REA’s Organics Recycling Group reassured producers of organic and waste-based fertilisers that the UK’s standards - PAS110 and associated ADQP regulations – could continue to be used as producers would be allowed to choose whether to adopt the EU requirements or not.

Defra is currently representing the UK at a series of European Council meetings over harmonising fertiliser standards across the EU.

The draft fertiliser regulations are being considered by the European Council and Parliament, and once adopted will be directly applicable.

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