The time had come for EPAGMA to take on the next phase of its development as an organization dedicated to serving the needs of its members and the wider peat and growing media industry. The key driver for this is that the agenda of the Association has two distinctive foci: Growing Media and Energy. Both sectors operate in different market and regulatory regimes. The setting up of the EPAGMA Sector Groups in recent years was an initial structural response to this situation. It is now appropriate for EPAGMA to fully separate into two new organizations, one for Energy Peat (please visit www.energypeat.eu) and one for Growing Media.
Growing Media Europe AISBL will start its work on October 1, 2016.
Main objectives of Growing Media Europe will be to promote optimum conditions and legislation for manufacturing and a free and fair trade of growing media within Europe.
The mission is to contribute to the competitiveness of European horticulture by providing this industry with high quality growing media. The key players in this industry cooperate with an extensive network to make sure that European production of growing media is done in the most transparent and sustainable manner.
Growing Media Europe will be represented by a director who will be in charge of Growing Media Europe’s interests and will be in continuous dialogue with member companies and associations.
We will launch a new website for Growing Media Europe soon and we will keep you informed.
For any questions or comments, please refer to EPAGMA’s Chairman, Norbert Siebels:
Phone: +49 5937 31150, Mobile: +491711201126
Last week, the European Commission published its Proposal for a Regulation on CE marked fertilising products, which contains new rules for the harmonisation of growing media and soil improvers.
EPAGMA, the European Peat and Growing Media Association, has been looking forward to a proposal that would remove unnecessary trade barriers that are making it difficult for growing media and soil improvers to be freely traded in the EU. In this regard, we highly welcome and support the European Commission’s work towards a common legislative framework across the European Union. A successful harmonisation proposal that will ensure wider availability of growing media products to the European agriculture and horticulture sectors, will require adequate rules with clear definitions that will encourage the placing on the market of CE marked growing media and soil improvers.
The current Commission proposal is an important first step, but more work is necessary to shape a clear and workable framework for the growing media industry. EPAGMA is concerned by parts of the text that seem to suggest that some common growing media materials such as certain coconut materials (coir pith) which have undergone so-called buffering processes would be treated as chemical substances under REACH. In EPAGMA’s view a plant based product such as coir pith is not within the scope of REACH registration.
EPAGMA Chairman Norbert Siebels commented: “Setting a framework for EU harmonisation without adequate definitions and rules that are not taking into account the unique nature of growing media and soil improvers will result in legal uncertainty and the continued placing on the market of these products via diverging national rules - ultimately failing to achieve the objective of improving intra-EU trade flows. EPAGMA will carefully study the proposal and will engage in a solution-oriented dialogue with the European Parliament, Member States and all stakeholders involved.”
“Our industry is firmly committed to contribute to the EU harmonisation of rules on growing media and soil improvers as well as to providing a wide range of products to the agricultural and horticultural supply chains”, EPAGMA Chairman Norbert Siebels confirmed.
At a time when energy and energy security are high on the political agendas of European governments, EPAGMA felt it an opportune moment to organise a high level conference on the opportunities and challenges of local fuels such as energy from peatlands.
Seven months after the European Commission launched its strategy for an Energy Union, nearly 50 participants gathered at the historic premises of the Estonian Parliament in Tallinn on 30 September to discuss the challenges and opportunities of local fuels, including energy-peat.
Toomas Kivimägi, Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee in the Estonian Parliament, opened the conference by outlining the importance of energy security and the risk of external dependency. Indigenous energy resources play an important part and EU energy policy should allow for tailored and flexible approaches for member states to determine their energy mix. At the same time, it is vital to take into account the impacts of different energy sources on sustainability.
Following the opening statement, Derek Taylor, former Energy Advisor at the European Commission addressed the EU Energy Union and its potential impact on the peat industry. Erki Niitlaan and Pat Fitzgerald presented the contribution, challenges and opportunities of the Estonian and European energy-peat industry. The second half of the conference was dedicated to an interactive moderated discussion with a high level panel, including Ando Leppiman, Deputy Secretary General for Energy and Construction at Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications for Estonia, Rainer Vakra, Chairman of the Environment Committee in the Estonian Parliament, Kati Veijonen, Senior Energy Advisor, Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Jens Zvirgzdgrauds, Energy Administrator, Secretariat-General of the EU Committee of the Regions, Derek Taylor, European Commission former Energy Advisor and Professor in Geo-energy at University of Nottingham, UK, Erki Niitlaan, Managing Director of the Estonian Peat Association.
The lively discussion between the panellists, further encouraged by active participation from the audience, confirmed the importance of local fuels for energy security, employment and competitiveness, whilst also addressing the challenges in relation to sustainability. For Estonia and its Baltic neighours, Latvia and Lithuania, energy security is of crucial importance due to the historic dependence on Russian imports. At the same time, Estonia possesses significant energy-peat resources, which help the country meet part of its domestic heat and electricity demand. The Energy Union project was seen as an opportunity to strengthen energy security. Member states should, however, maintain control over their respective energy mixes.
Following the conference, Revolve Media has covered the topic in an article titled “The Power of Peat“ .
You will be able to watch the full conference again at the following link here.
EPAGMA would like to thank Chairman Kivimägi for kindly hosting the conference in the Estonian Parliament. We would also like to extend our gratitude to all the speakers and participants and hope to see you again in the very near future!