Industrial and agricultural refuse such as sludge and bio-waste can harm communities and contaminate the food we eat, prompting the EU to enforce strict waste disposal regulations. The EU-funded project Horizontal-HYG aimed to help establish hygienic parameters that support effective waste disposal. The project strengthened directives that pre-empt soil and crop contamination, setting stricter standards for analysing and sampling sludge, treated bio-waste and soil. This would ultimately help ensure that the quality of water and the environment do not compromise human health, animal health and crops. Horizontal-HYG established microbiological threshold values that are harmonised across the EU, particularly for pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens and Ascaris ova. Such standards include organic and inorganic parameters, as well as biological parameters, hygienic parameters, mechanical properties and leaching of sludge, soil and treated bio-waste. The initiative was supported by the project's strong links with experts from the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In addition, the project assessed the feasibility of establishing horizontal standards and parameters, estimating cost effectiveness and overall efficiency of closing the gaps among European nations. In the long run, this will facilitate regulation of decisions linked to disposal of waste and help ensure a better environment for all life on the planet.