Circular economy – integrated in our sustainability efforts
We work on a daily basis to incorporate the principles of circular economy into our operations and our offerings. Moving away from the linear "take, make, dispose" concept, circular business models have a life cycle approach. Products are designed so that they can easily be reused, remanufactured or recycled thereby minimizing waste and ensuring resources remain in use for as long as possible.
Developing next-generation materials
Steel is considered to be the most recycled material on the planet, more than all other materials combined. Its metallurgical properties allow it to be recycled continually with no degradation in performance. At Sandvik Materials Technology, we have recycled stainless steel for more than 100 years and in our production today we use on average 82.1% (2019) recycled steel.
Our ambition is to develop next-generation steel materials that will contribute to further technology shifts and a society that takes much greater responsibility for its people and the environment. We apply our unique expertise in materials technology to make industrial processes safer and more efficient, yielding greater output while consuming fewer resources.
Steel shapes a better future
Every day the steel industry in Sweden contributes, with its products, to a more sustainable world. Being the most important and versatile material ever developed, steel will continue to play a central role in the development of our society.
The steel industry in Sweden has agreed on a common industry-wide vision: "Climate roadmap for a fossil-free steel industry". This vision implies three undertakings: leading technical development, nurturing creative individuals and creating environmental benefits.
We already integrate many of the circular economy principles into our offerings. At the same time, we work to further incorporate circular thinking into our business model. Here are some examples of how we contribute to a more circular economy.
- Developing superior offerings that allow our customers to further reduce their impact on the environment, while at the same time gaining other benefits. Some examples are Sandvik Hiflex®, GDI Tubing – Pressurfect™, Fibrothal™ and Exera®.
- Using recycled raw material. In our production today, we use on average 82.1% (2019) recycled steel. Some is recycled material created in our own production (from turning and drilling).
- Reducing the amount of energy used to produce steel. Manufacturing one ton of steel today requires just 40% of the energy it did in 1960. We have reduced our energy use by 12% since 2005.
- Using all raw materials to their full capacity thereby working towards zero waste from steelmaking. Our goal is also to make use of all the by-products, including slag, dust and process gases.
- Reducing water consumption. In Sandviken, we have adjusted our processes to better utilize drinking water. Water is also re-circulated within the plant, in particular for cooling purposes.
- Further developing our life cycle assessments (LCAs) to determine and minimize the environmental impact of our products.
A lot remains to be done, of course. Some of our future goals towards increased sustainability are:
- Taking further advantage of residual heat from our processes
- Recycling materials in an even more efficient way
- Offering a scrap buyback program on selected products to increase circularity
- Adjusting pressurized plants
- Increasing the efficiency of our cooling systems
- Investigating circular business models
- Using digitalization and the principles of Industry 4.0 as key tools for efficient production
Sustainable business within the Sandvik Group
The principles of circular economy
Principle 1: Preserve and enhance natural capital by controlling finite stocks and balancing renewable resource flows.
Principle 2: Optimize resource yields by circulating products, components, and materials at the highest utility at all times in both technical and biological cycles.
Principle 3: Foster system effectiveness by revealing and designing out negative externalities.