As an answer to the re-evaluation of the European sludge directive, two novel reference materials for organic components in municipal sludge have been produced and test certified for AOX (absorbable organic halogens), PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), NPE (nonylphenol and nonylphenolethoxylates) , DEHP (di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate), bisphenol A, and BFR (brominated flame retardants). The materials were prepared from raw sludge without spiking or mixing of different sludges. The study demonstrated that the technique for the preparation of a suitable reference material, sufficiently homogenous and stable, and with concentration levels that answer the needs of the laboratories and the relevant authorities, can now be presented in detail. The results, furthermore, show there is a need for method validation and standardisation of the measurements of NPEs and certain BFR congeners, and that the development of the laboratory structure in Europe, with fewer and more specialised laboratories, might become a major obstacle when trying to find a sufficient number of laboratories being appropriately proficient for this kind of study in the future. © 2008 Springer-Verlag.