EU Adopts New Fertilizer Rules

28.05.2019 -

The EU has adopted new rules for fertilizers from 2022, setting limits on toxic contaminants for the first time as well as opening the market for organic products.

The regulation has introduced a 60 mg/kg limit for the cadmium content in phosphate fertilizers, which will be further reviewed four years after the date of application. In addition, and starting this year, the EU will introduce voluntary green labelling for fertilizers that contain less than 20 mg cadmium.

The EU said that contaminants in phosphate fertilizer products, such as cadmium, can potentially pose a risk to human health as they accumulate in the environment and enter the food chain.

In addition, the legislation provides common rules on safety, quality and labeling for organic fertilizers so they can be traded freely across the EU. Fertilizer manufacturers can also choose partial harmonization, opting instead for compliance with national standards before selling their products on the EU market under the principle of mutual recognition.

Under existing rules, only conventional, non-organic fertilizers, typically extracted from mines or produced chemically, can freely be traded across the EU as organic products fall outside the scope of current regulations. Consequently, access to the EU market is dependent on mutual recognition between member states, which is often difficult due to diverging national rules, putting organic fertilizers at a competitive disadvantage.

The EU said the rules will boost the production and use of phosphate fertilizers with low cadmium content and of organic fertilizers, providing “a greater choice to farmers oriented towards a more environment-friendly agriculture.”

Russian fertilizer company PhosAgro has welcomed the legislation. CEO Andrey Guryev said the historic decision creates incentives for fertilizer producers all over the world to continue to develop and to improve their operations in order to meet the growing demand for high-quality food both in Europe and globally. He noted that PhosAgro held less than 15% of the European market for phosphate fertilizers in 2018.