Legislation for the Reuse of Biosolids on Agricultural Land in Europe: Overview

The issues concerning the management of sewage sludge produced in wastewater treatment plants are becoming more important in Europe due to:

(i) the modification of sludge quality (biological and chemical sludge are often mixed with negative impacts on sludge management, especially for land application);

(ii) the evolution of legislation (landfill disposal is banned in many European countries); and

(iii) the technologies for energy and material recovery from sludge not being fully applied in all European Member States.

Furthermore, Directive 2018/851/EC introduced the waste hierarchy that involved a new strategy with the prevention in waste production and the minimization of landfill disposal.

In this context, biological sewage sludge can be treated in order to produce more stabilized residues: the biosolids. In some European countries, the reuse of biosolids as soil improver/fertilizer in arable crops represents the most used option.

In order to control the quality of biosolids used for land application, every Member State has issued a national regulation based on
the European directive.

The aim of this work is to compare the dierent approaches provided by European Member States for the reuse of biosolids in agricultural soils.

A focus on the regulation of countries that reuse significant amount of biosolids for land application was performed.

Finally, a detailed study on Italian legislation both at national and regional levels is reported.

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