‘New Water Europe position paper’ Sewage Sludge Directive: An opportunity to fully exploit the value in water


On the 5th of March, the European Commission will close its public consultation on the evaluation of the Sewage Sludge Directive (SSD). Water Europe is glad to contribute to this discussion with its new position paper “Unlock the potential of the sewage sludge directive through the full exploitation of the value in water for a green and sustainable Europe”.

The SSD has performed well in its objective to encourage the safe use of sludge, while complying with high environmental standards and providing beneficial side effects, such as improving effluent and water quality, soil organic matter and water retention. However, thirty years since its inception, new challenges have arisen that the Directive is not fit to address, namely contaminants of emerging concern, digitalisation and circular economy.

WE welcomes the conclusion of the European Commission to update the SSD aligning it with the Green Deal and the digitalisation of Europe to address today’s challenges. A well-designed revised Directive must be cohesive and coherent with the EU’s current sustainability objectives, and particularly with the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Zero-Pollution, the Pharmaceutical and Farm2Fork strategies. Therefore, WE suggests a holistic management of sewage treatment that achieves the following objectives:

  • Fully exploit the value in water beyond agricultural use.
  • Digitalisation for efficiency and fast response
  • Update the SSD on specific measures to address contaminants of emerging concern

Circularity in sewage sludge management can have multiple benefits especially in the context of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 and the new EU Soil Strategy. Sewage sludge can indeed be used in agriculture after appropriate treatment. In this respect, WE is currently preparing its response to the public consultation on the new Soil Strategy.

For more information, please download the full position paper here.


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