The European Compost Network - ten years of successful engagement in biowaste management

This presentation sets out the ethos and main activities of the European Compost Network since its inception ten years ago in 2002.

The European Compost Network (ECN) was established against the backdrop of the EU Landfill Directive (99/31/EC). Introduced in 1999, the Directive set, for the first time, targets for each member state to divert biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) from landfill. A significant proportion of this BMW would be suitable for biological treatment, such as composting and anaerobic digestion. Whilst this would be easily achieved by some member states, others from the then EU15 would face considerable challenges. Countries, such as Austria, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, had in place established biological treatment infrastructure, with mature composting and anaerobic digestion sectors. These member states would be able to accommodate any additional biowaste diverted from landfill, whilst others with heavy reliance on landfill, such as the UK, Ireland and Greece, would need to plan, design and build new capability, thus facing many technical and practical challenges. In addition, there was speculation that the European Commission would develop a so-called “Biowaste Directive”. The European biological treatment sector thus needed an informed voice in Brussels to provide technical representation and argue its corner.
So why not learn from practitioners in these countries to share knowledge and technical know-how? This was the rationale for the establishment of ECN. Lead by Josef Barth and Prof Bidlingmaier in Germany, colleagues from Denmark, Italy and the UK came together to discuss options and formulate a plan of action. Following a series of meetings, ECN was formally launched in October 2002 in Budapest, Hungary. Initially, an initiative of the ORBIT Association, ECN set out to become the "Competent Reference Point for Biological Treatment in Europe". It would work through its Country Representatives, drawn from the membership, Operational Board and a series of Working Groups. The central ethos of ECN was to influence European policy, share information, develop quality criteria and work collaboratively with other organisations.
Shortly after its formation, the European Commission published a series of working documents on the management of biowaste, setting out its broad policy objectives. ECN was central to these discussions, representing its members in numerous meetings in Brussels. Communications on soils, the Animal By-Products Regulations, Waste Framework Directive, End-of-Waste criteria, and, latterly, the Fertiliser Regulation all followed suit. ECN has had an input into all of these, and continues to provide technical and strategic knowledge into the decision making process.
In addition to this policy work, over the past ten years ECN has disseminated vast amounts of information. It has organised a series of workshops across Europe on diverse topics, such as odour, compost marketing and anaerobic digestion. It continues to run the biennial ORBIT scientific conferences in conjunction with partners, such as IRSTEA. ECN has collaborated (and continues to collaborate) with other organisations representing the resource and energy sectors, being instrumental in forming a “Biowaste Alliance” in 2004. As if this wasn’t enough, ECN has led the way in develop a pan-European Compost Quality Assurance Scheme, aimed at harmonising compost quality assurance and defining a common standard.



Copyright: © European Compost Network ECN e.V.
Quelle: Orbit 2012 (Juni 2012)
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Autor: Dr. Jane Gilbert

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