Swiss to end sewage sludge land spreading

Government decides long-term contamination risks require complete shift to incineration

Switzerland is to end the disposal of sewage sludge through agricultural spreading by 2005, it emerged on Friday. The move will make it the first and only country in Europe to stop recycling sludge onto farms, with pressure still on across the EU for greater land spreading.

Bern says the step is being proposed due to a long-term decline in farmers' demand for sludge coupled with growing concerns over the pollutant content of wastewater residues, including recent detection of pharmaceutical compounds and synthetic hormones. The rising demand for organic and quality-assured food products, where sludge is banned in production, is also a factor, it says.

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