On January 18th, the new sewage sludge ordinance has passed the German cabinet. It is supposed to pass the parliament and Federal Council of Germany before summer. Intended dates are 31 March for the parliament and 12 May for the council. After more than 10 years of revision and heated debates, the new draft of the German sewage sludge ordinance was sent by the Federal Ministry of Environment (BMUB) to the European Commission (EC) for notification at September 26th 2016. The notification to EC is a typical procedure for new Member State regulations according to directive 2015/1535/EU. The EC has approved without remarks by 27 Dec 2016. The content cannot be changed afterwards except for minor adaptions.
Once approved by both chambers, the new sewage sludge ordinance may enter into force by 1st January 2018. This step will make phosphorus (P) recovery from sewage sludge obligatory for all German wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) larger than 50,000 person equivalents (p.e.), equal to ~500 WWTP out of ~9300 WWTP. They will have to recover the phosphorus if the sludge contains more than 2% phosphorus /DS (dry solids) or have to incinerate the sludge in mono-incinerators. Land application of sludge will only be allowed for WWTP < 50,000 p.e. These ~500 WWTP represent roughly 66% of the total phosphorus removed from German wastewater and transferred into the sludge.
The WWTP above 100,000 p.e. will have to fulfill the new phosphorus recovery requirements by 2029, after a 12 years transition period. The WWTP of 50,000 to 100,000 p.e. get three additional years for implementation. All effected WWTP have to develop phosphorus recovery concepts by 2023.
Currently, 26% of sewage sludge is spread on arable land. This fraction is expected to half as a consequence of the new fertilising ordinance (DüV) and sewage sludge ordinance (AbfKlärV) entering into force. The fertilising ordinance is the German implementation of the nitrates directive and will strongly affect sludge disposal and valorisation in Germany already next year.