Sewage contains valuable substances that can be used as raw materials for biobased products, but this potential is hardly exploited in North-West Europe so far. The Interreg North‐West Europe project Wider business Opportunities for raw materials from Wastewater (sewage) (WOW!) aims to make the transition to a more circular approach by matching supply and demand of cellulose, lipids and PHA bioplastics from sewage.
However, in addition to technology development that enables sewage treatment plants and other market players to exploit the potential of these resources, the legal framework should envision and facilitate these practices. This may require that the current legal framework needs amendment to further fit these new circular practices. The state-of-the-art report on existing legislation in Europe and the partner countries of the project was released on June 30, 2020 and is considered one of the pillars for the national policy action plans.
The report first describes the European legal framework. In total, nine directives and regulations were analyzed, amongst which the Water Framework Directive, the Sludge directive and the Fertilizer regulation. Next, the report describes how the EU legal framework is implemented in the National legislation of each of the partner countries, which are Germany, UK, Luxembourg, Belgium, France and The Netherlands.
The main conclusions of the reports are:
- Despite excessive EU legislation, member states and regions have a significant amount of flexibility.
- Interpretations of key definitions are often left to (national and European) courts based on case-by-case analysis (e.g. end-of-waste status). This leads to unclarity and uncertainty for stakeholder parties and initiators of resource recovery projects.
The full state-of-the-art report can be downloaded here.