There are strict regulations in place for the use of biosolids governed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), unlike some farm yard manures and other organic materials which are spread to land.
All biosolids used on agricultural land are applied in accordance with The Sludge (Use in Agriculture) Regulations and The Code of Practice for the Agricultural Use of Sewage Sludge.
Northumbrian Water and their partner, Veolia Organics Recycling, conform to RB209 Nutrient Management Guide (9th Edition) best practices.
There has been extensive and continuing research into the use of biosolids on agricultural land over the last 45 years.
The work confirms that any risk to the food chain or the environment from recycling biosolids to land is extremely small provided that it is carried out in accordance with the regulations above.
The Safe Sludge Matrix (ADAS. 2001) represents an agreement made between the water industry and British Retail Consortium (BRC) and provides guidance on crop types that can be grown following biosolids application and harvest intervals to make sure there are no risks to food safety.
The water industry has developed a Biosolids Assurance Scheme (BAS) with Water UK, which was introduced in autumn 2013, that brings legislative and code of practice controls on biosolids recycling to agricultural land into one independently audited standard, to ‘openly demonstrate that biosolids are recycled to agricultural land in accordance with legislation and best practices using safe and sustainable processes that are in the best interests of the public and the environment‘.
AROUND £9 MILLION HAS BEEN SPENT ON RESEARCH IN THE LAST 16 YEARS TO MAKE SURE THE USE OF BIOSOLIDS IS SAFE FOR HUMANS, ANIMALS AND THE ENVIRONMENT.
Water UK and the European Commission confirm that there has never been a recorded outbreak of human ill health or crop contamination as a result of recycling biosolids to land.
How sustainable is the use of Biosolids?
Agricultural recycling is seen as the best practicable environmental option in most circumstances by the UK government and European Union and conserves a valuable organic resource.
Recycling biosolids is an opportunity to recover nutrients, which would otherwise be lost such as phosphate, a global finite resource that should be recovered and reused. Biosolids can and do replace the need for alternative manufactured fertilisers, avoiding the emissions associated with their manufacture.