The European Commission has released a Green Deal package called ‘more sustainable use of plant and soil natural resources’. This includes a directive on soil monitoring, regulation on plants produced by new genomic techniques, revision of food waste and textiles in the waste framework directive and revision of legislation on seeds and other plant and forest reproductive material.

The laws aim at improving the health of the EU’s soils by 2050, 70% of which are deemed “unhealthy”. The objective of the proposed soil law is to have all soils in healthy condition by 2050, in line with the EU Zero Pollution ambition. To achieve this, the law provides a harmonised definition of soil health, puts in place a comprehensive and coherent monitoring framework and lays down rules on sustainable soil management,  remediation of contaminated sites as well as a voluntary certification scheme for soil health with strong synergies with carbon farming and payments for ecosystem services.

The proposals also include solutions for replacing harmful chemical pesticides, sustainability requirements for all plant reproductive material, and that by 2030, member states reduce food waste by 10% in processing & manufacturing and 30% in retail, restaurant, food services, & households.

The proposals will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council in the ordinary legislative procedure. There are public consultations on the Soil Monitoring Law and the Food Waste Reduction Targets

While a positive step, the proposed laws have been largely criticised for lacking ambition: in summary, the proposals constitute targets, measurement frameworks, and voluntary measures – all of which are important, but are wholly insufficient at this stage, particularly given that the state of the issue is to a large extent already known.

For further details please see:

Press release:

Soil monitoring law

Food waste reduction