EU Organic farming committee positive opinion on recovered struvite and calcined phosphates

Thursday 03 November 2016

The EU’s “Expert Group for Technical Advice on Organic Production” (EGTOP) has published its response to two dossiers proposing authorisation of recycled phosphate products as fertilisers in organic agriculture (under EU Organic Farming Regulation 889/2008).

The dossier for struvite was submitted by the UK in 2014 and concerns struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate) recovered in sewage works or from animal waste processing.

The dossier for calcined phosphates was submitted by Austria in 2011 and concerns recovery from ashes of sewage sludge, meat and bone meal (MBM), or other biomass ash.

The committee concludes that for Ostara Pearl struvite (the submitted dossier) there is no hygiene risk (organic pollutants or pathogens), but that this is not proven for other struvite production methods. Struvite recovery is noted to be conform to environmental objectives (reduces N and P losses to surface waters, recycles nutrients, reduces consumption of non-renewable P resources) and concludes that struvite should be authorised for organic farming “provided that the method of production ensures hygienic and pollutant safety”.

For calcined phosphates, the committee also concludes that recovery from ashes is conform to environmental objectives (but with some concerns about energy consumption) and that calcined phosphates should be authorised for organic farming subject to being recovered from sewage sludge incineration ash and that heavy metal content should be limited (proposal: chromium(VI) non detectable, other heavy metals “minimised”). However, EGTOP also concludes that these two products cannot be authorised under the Organic Farming Regulation until they are authorised under the EU Fertilisers Regulation, so confirming the importance of the ‘STRUBIAS’ process underway to integrate such products into the current revision of this Regulation.

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