Swiss plan to burn all sewage sludge confirmed

Government proposes ban on farmland spreading in bid to prevent long-term pollution risks

The Swiss government has issued detailed plans to outlaw use of sewage sludge on farmland. Proposals for changes to national law announced yesterday will ban land spreading on grazing land and market gardens from 1 January 2003 and on all land from October 2005. By then another 80,000 tonnes per year of sludge will have to be incinerated.

A complete shift to incineration will mean extra costs of SFr40m (euros 58m) per year. This is justified, the government says, because land spreading carries long-term risks for the environment and human health. As well as heavy metals, it says, pharmaceuticals, perfumes and endocrine-disrupting substances all contaminate sludge.

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