EU experts debate standards for compost

European Commission officials outline potential future EU directive on composting

European composting experts and government officials have discussed standards for compost and outlined what a possible future EU directive should look like at a two-day workshop in Vienna which ended yesterday. Representatives from the European Commission's environment department made clear that any EU directive would set minimum standards that would have to be reached by the member-states. Evelyn Wolfslehner of the Austrian environment ministry told ENDS Daily that this would leave open the right for national controls to be stricter, anticipating that both Austria and the Netherlands would be countries likely to exercise this option. "Both countries have built up logistics for separate compost collection that work very well," she said. "We have learned that in most countries farmers are very sceptical about using compost. In Austria this is not a problem because farmer were included in these discussions from the very beginning." Several speakers at the meeting supported separate collection of wastes to be composted as a means of controlling contamination. There was disagreement, meanwhile, over the use of sewage sludge as compost, given the widespread presence of low levels of heavy metals and other toxic substances. One regulatory option floated was the creation of a hierarchy of compost quality grades, only the most stringent of which would be allowed to be used by organic farmers.

Follow Up:
Austrian environment ministry, tel: +43 1 515 220; Austrian agriculture ministry, tel: +43 1 711 000.

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