Sewage Sludge Directive

This directive, despite regulating exclusively agricultural use, is the only sludge-specific legal act at the Community level, and also the most important one. The sludge from plants treating domestic and urban waste waters, from septic tanks, or other similar installations can be used in agriculture only in accordance with this directive. Moreover, the acceptable treatment methods of sludge used in agriculture are specified by Article 2 (b) as follows: biological, chemical or heat treatment, long-term storage or any other appropriate process that will significantly reduce fermentability of sludge and the health hazards resulting from the use of sludge. Untreated sludge is allowed to be used only if it is injected or worked into the soil, and this should be authorised by special conditions laid down by the member states.

The Sewage Sludge Directive contains limit values for heavy metal concentrations in the soil and in the sludge as well as the average annual load introduced into soil. Furthermore, the directive prohibits the use of sludge on grassland and soil under fruit and vegetable crops (with the exception of fruit trees). The directive’s Annexes IIA and IIB describe the analysis rules.