Legal aspects of bio-based Feedstocks

RUSTICA strives for valorisation of leftovers from the agri-food chain by transforming these bio-based resources into high-value products for plant nutrition and soil enhancement. In pursuing highly innovative and sustainable solutions, the project explores fruit and vegetable wastes on their suitability for advanced and environmentally friendly fertilisers.

The legislation in the European Union provides a solid fundament for waste which is defined as “any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard” and its re-use or recycling in the Directive on waste (2008/98/EC). Considering biowaste encompassing inter alia biodegradable waste from retail premises and comparable waste from food processing plants as legally defined in 2018:  separation and recycling at source or a separate collection and no mixing with other wastes shall become mandatory in the EU Member States by 31st of December 2023 ((EU)2018/851).

Figure 1: EU legislation on waste affects RUSTICA and its feedstocks – Source: Own depiction (A. Wiedemann)

But the amended Directive on waste does not just refer to collection of biowaste: EU countries shall encourage “recycling including composting and anaerobic digestion” and the use of materials from biowaste. With view on the EU re-use and recycling targets for municipal waste (e.g., 55% by 2025), the legal source highlights that the amount of biodegradable municipal waste may be counted as recycled in case compost, digestate or “other output result from a treatment process with a similar quantity of recycled content in relation to the input”. The output needs to be deployed for product, material or substance purposes. If such an output is used on land, it may count as recycled by the EU Member States only if this led “to benefits to agriculture” or ecological enhancement ((EU)2018/851).

The RUSTICA project aspires to gain secondary resources and novel materials not only advantageous to agriculture but also supportive to environment. In light of these goals, a multitude of effects on feedstocks in EU legislation, such as those determined in the Directive on waste, need to be taken into account.

By Adelheid Wiedemann (Wiedemann GmbH;



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