Comprehensive evaluation and development of Irish compost and digestate standards for heavy metals, stability and phytotoxicity
Abstract: Recent EU circular economy, bioeconomy policies and the New Green Deal promote the recycling of organic wastes into soil improvers and fertilisers, thereby reducing the use of mineral fertilisers. This has renewed interest in the use of compost and digestate as fertilisers. At the same time, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has strengthened the demand for sustainable domestic fertilisers to guarantee the security of supply. It is now more important than ever that quality standards in Ireland are fit for the purpose of aiding the sustainable local production of fertilisers. Quality standards for compost and digestate ensure and protect the environment. This study collated the results of the analysis of Irish compost and digestate samples and made comparisons of the Irish data to databases, reports and standards from other countries, including the EU Fertiliser Products Regulation 2019/1009. This paper, therefore, provides comprehensive information on heavy metal, stability and phytotoxicity standards from a number of European and other countries. In addition, it includes actual data on these parameters from Ireland and a few European countries. From this collation and comparison process, we propose to update the heavy metals and stability limits in the Irish compost standard (IS 441) and heavy metals and stability limits in a new digestate standard (whole, liquid and fibre). Our methodology and collated data can be used as templates for countries, especially in Europe, which have not developed their own standards. Having an updated compost quality standard supports the development of a circular economy while still respecting the precautionary principle of avoiding pollution when compost and digestate are used on the soil.
PublicationEnvironments 10 (10), 166
Other Funding informationEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA) Research Programme 2021–2030 (2018-RE-DS-10)
Sustainable development goals
- (15) Life On Land
Department or School
- Chemical Sciences