Auteurs : Katia Lasaridi, Ioanna Protopapa, Maria Kotsou, George Pilidis, Thakis Manios & Adamantini Kyriacou

An extensive data survey and study of the Greek market for composts or products marketed as such was carried out in order to acquire a comprehensive image of the local situation, in view of the proposed operation of large municipal solid waste (MSW) composting facilities and EU legislation changes. Physical and chemical parameters (moisture, organic matter, electrical conductivity, pH and heavy metals), stability
indicators (self-heating potential, germination index) and biological indicators (microbial population, pathogen indicators and selected pathogens) were analyzed for the assessment of product quality. Results revealed wide variations even within the same group of products, which is particularly significant for parameters directly related to environmental protection and public health. The heavy metal content ranged from levels exceeding the fairly lenient Greek standards to below the stringent limits for ACclass compost in Austria. About 25% of the composts examined met the heavy metal limits for the EU eco-label award. Salmonella spp. was not detected in any of the composts but Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium perfringens were found in 17 and 96% of the composts respectively. Pathogen indicator microorganisms were present at levels above suggested limits in all the composts.

The high variability of such important parameters in composts available on the Greek market suggests an urgent need for establishing quality assurance procedures and mechanisms in the country. Moreover, the wide range of limit values within EU member states suggests the need for developing EU compost quality standards, in order to harmonize the compost markets. 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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