As reported by Reuters, on Tuesday the European Union (EU) agreed on a cap for cadmium levels in fertilizers.
Cadmium is present in phosphate deposits in many countries, including in northwestern Africa, and the ore from these deposits is used to produce mineral fertilizers.
Tuesday’s preliminary decision, which has yet to receive final approval from the European Parliament and EU member states, sets a limit of 60 milligrams of cadmium per kilogram of fertilizer in a move the EU’s legislative said would promote organic fertilizers.
“The agreed text introduces limits for heavy metals, such as cadmium, in phosphate fertilizers to reduce health and environmental risks,” the European Parliament said in a statement, adding that the new limit would take effect three years after the new law is enacted.
PhosAgro and Yara are potential winners, along with producers in South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, while rivals from Morocco and Tunisia stand to lose out because their products contain more cadmium, industry sources said.
The Chief Executive of PhosAgro, Andrey Guryev, welcomed the decision, saying: “We will continue to sell our premium-quality products, which are well below the limits introduced.”
The European Parliament statement said that the EU imports more than 6 million tpy of phosphate rock but could recover much more through recycling. It said that only 5% of waste organic material is being re-used as fertilizer in the bloc.
Fertilizers Europe broadly welcomed the preliminary agreement but said the 60 mg/kg limit was too harsh: “We … regret that the level of nutrients in mineral fertilisers was reduced.”