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AD sector welcomes fertiliser standard security

Anaerobic digestion (AD) plant operators have welcomed the security of the UK’s own fertiliser standard, following fears of change under new EU regulations.

Concerns were raised last year over the possible inclusion of organic fertilisers, notably biofertiliser, in the EU Fertilisers Regulation.

Proposals included minimum nutrient content requirements for organic fertilisers and soil improvers, far in excess of UK AD operational limits and biofertiliser content.

This would have rendered obsolete the UK’s end-of-waste scheme for digestate from AD, including PAS110 and associated ADQP administered by the Biofertiliser Certification Scheme.

But now the European Commission directorate-general for the internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs has confirmed to the Association of Anaerobic Digestion Operators (AADO) that the UK will be able to continue to use its own regulations.

The Commission told AADO there are two options if biofertiliser is to be marketed across EU borders:

  • attain the circular economy (CE) mark as a European organic fertiliser or soil improver by demonstrating the requirements set out in the Fertilisers Regulation
  • reach a position of mutual recognition with another country to agree end-of-waste principles

This confirmation secures the continued operation of the PAS110 scheme and the ability of operators meeting that scheme’s requirements to manage their digestate as product, not waste.

Technical adviser to AADO, Kristy Blakeborough-Wesson, said: “The partial harmonisation proposal from the Commission has come as a result of sustained pressure from the UK, after initial Fertilisers Regulation proposals presented in autumn 2014 were recognised as completely unworkable by AADO members.

“AADO has worked with REA and ADBA, and has presented a coherent and scientifically valid alternative to the ‘one size fits all’ EU proposal, and is delighted to have secured the biofertiliser industry in the UK for the foreseeable future.”

The amendment to the EU Fertilisers Regulation is due under the CE review later this year.

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