EU and Member State legal, permit and quality requirements for biochar import, manufacturing, placing on the market and use above >1 ton/year capacity.
Author: Edward Someus (biochar S&T senior engineer, Terra Humana Ltd. www.3Ragrocarbon.com
The EC2003/2003 Fertilisers Regulation covering mineral fertilizers only, such as EC fertilizers; while products from recovered bio-wastes and other secondary raw materials, including biochar, are covered by the national “MS” Member State regulations. As of today bio-material extracted fertilizers and/or soil improvers, such is the biochar, are under mandatory MS permit schedules. Voluntarily biochar certificates do not have any technical and/or legal validity and effects in the EU. The free movement of these non-harmonised fertilisers between Member States could be through Mutual Recognition, but in practice the legal differences between MS are significant, so it is rarely applied, if applied at all.
The ongoing Fertilisers Regulation revision under Circular Economy incentive aims to establish EU regulatory framework and full harmonization of innovative fertilisers containing nutrients or organic matter recovered and recycle from biowaste or other secondary raw materials. This will create a deeper and fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base, by removing existing barriers to free movement of certain innovative products.
Biochar is a chemically modified substance; therefore it is under the European Regulation “REACH” Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals, that entered into force in 2007. “No data no market”: the REACH Regulation places responsibility on industry to manage the risks and to provide safety information on the substances for import, manufacturing, placing on the market and use above >1 ton/year capacity. Biochar is a new product; therefore material specific consideration is needed for all analytical items to determine product quality-safety-performance with internationally accredited methods and standards. The REFERTIL (FP7, 289785) consortium integrated the biochar applied scientific research, industrial engineering, legal and economical aspects as well. Harmonized and standardized analytical measurements have been developed for determination of the physic-chemical properties, potentially toxic element content and organic pollutants in the biochar materials. A proposed biochar quality and safety criterion system has also been set up which is maximizing the Potential Toxic Element and Organic Pollutant content for “fit for purpose” of safe use applications.