The aggregates industry

Implemented 2019-2020

• Several companies have already converted many of their production processes from diesel to electric power, thus reducing their emissions by around 30-50 per cent compared to their 2015 level.
• SBMI (Swedish Aggregates Producers Association) has launched the “Sustainable electrification of quarries” project. Some 30 activities are part of the project, aimed at speeding up the transition to electric power.
• SBMI has started the project “decision-support for increased recovery” to produce fact-based reference data for assessing surplus material that can be used for civil engineering purpo


Aggregates (sand, gravel and crushed rock) is an indispensable local Swedish raw material. Aggregates is necessary for a well-functioning infrastructure, housing construction, roads, railways, ports and airports and thus for business development and employment.

In 2017, about 100 million tonnes of aggregates was produced and delivered, making it the country´s largest industrial product by weight. The value of the raw material is about 10 billion SEK and the aggregates industry employs about 5,000 people directly and amounts to approximately 30,000 people indirectly.

The fossil emissions from the aggregates industry amount to about 0.25–0.45 million tonnes of CO2-eq. for the production chain, and an additional approximately 0.2 million tonnes of CO2-eq. Emissions from the transport will be greater if the distance to the customer increases.

In 2045, the aggregate industry will be completely fossil-free and largely automated or remote-controlled. During the transition work, information and demonstration efforts will be required to implement and support this transition. By 2030, the greenhouse gas emissions of greenhouse gases from production processes will be reduced by 50% compared to the 2015 level.

The climate change in the aggregates industry is used mainly through development in four different areas:

1.  Electrification of the production process
The electrification process will be carried out partly through connecting of crushers and machines in the production process to electricity network, and partly through increased battery operation of construction machines. Today, a large part of the work in the quarries is done with diesel-powered equipment, especially with mobile crushers and to move the heavy material in the area. By operating machines with renewable electricity instead, the production processes in the aggregate industry can be virtually emission-free.

2. Increased use of fossil-free fuels in the  production process
An important part of the reduction of emissions will be carried out using biofuels in cases where electrification is not suitable/possible. The availability of biofuels at competitive prices is an important prerequisite for the industry´s transition. Most of today´s machines can run on biofuels without measures.

3. Smarter transports and more efficient location of quarries
Reduced emissions from transports to customer through optimized localization of quarries and material terminals, and increased proportion of climate-efficient transports. Material transport accounts for a large part of the industry´s emissions. Big savings can be made by buyers and producers together planning the logistics to minimize transport. Even more important is to locate the quarries smart, that is, close to the place where the material will be used. To enable more urban-based investments of quarries, the aggregates producers are continuously working on developing production equipment with noise less and dust less.

4. Circular material flows
Increased circular material flows mean that the need for processing of the material is reduced and that the logistics process becomes more efficient, which reduces fossil emissions. Today, several EU countries have come further with recycling materials, and here are several good »best practices« to be inspired by.

Ensure legal and effective licensing processes
Legal, effective and predictable permit processes are required to create a rational supply of raw materials. By planning smart and placing quarries closer to the building site, the climate impact can significantly decrease. Then the processes for obtaining permits must be made considerably more predictable, legally safe and uniform.

Give long permits with flexible terms for investment
In order to promote electrification, a long-term approach is required. Even if the profitability meets the company´s demand for repayment time, climate investments are not carried out if the remaining license period is too short and it is uncertain whether the cover will be granted extended operating license with reasonable terms. Too short counting permits with too rigid conditions do not give the operator the opportunities that are needed for long-term climate investments.

Produce End-of-Waste (EoW) criteria for ballast
It must become clear when waste ceases to be waste and the regulatory framework must promote recycling when it is environmentally justified. SBMI (Sveriges Bergmaterialindustri) considers that the Ministry of the Environment should give the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency the task of developing EoW criteria for ballast material.

Produce industry guides for what is NOT waste
In today’s legal system there are big uncertainties about the recycling of aggregates. In many cases, a rational material handling and sound circular material flows are counteracted by an uncertainty regarding the outcome of government assessments. Clearer guidance is needed on what does not fall within the scope of the waste definition to ensure uniform assessments in the country.

Prioritize circular material flows during assessments
Today, too often restrictive authority assessments are made about where recycled materials may be used. This means great costs for society, long unnecessary transports, and counteracts circular material flows. The circular society needs site-specific government assessments that promote circular material flows, and where reasonable considerations regarding environmental protection are made.

Let public procurement be driving
A large proportion of the production of the industry is sold to public procurers. These should be able to set higher climate requirements than private clients. It can, for example, reward recycled material. This could mean that the industry gets an opportunity to get more paid for products that meet higher requirements to promote climate investments.

Establish »Policylabs« for industry regulations
Many regulations have been developed in a society that was different from today. The regulations or instruments were relevant at the time of the introduction, but perhaps not today. Policylab is a form of cooperation where many different relevant stakeholder groups work closely together on the design of the regulations. This technique has proven to be effective and successful in many different ways.

Secure well-functioning market for biofuels
Electrification is not suitable everywhere. It is important that the industry can reduce fossil emissions through other measures. Demand for HVO will increase. There is a need for new policy instruments that enable the industry, together with authorities, to develop technology that encourages technology development and increased production of, for example, biofuels.

Speed up technology shifts with »The Climate Leap«
In larger plants, electrification is often more profitable, but in medium-sized revenues, for example, the governmental financial support is needed to create enough profitability for the conversion. A major change will require the support of society. With the support of, for example, the governmental investment program »The Climate Leap«, the return of investment period reduces to an acceptable level.

Consider the supply of aggregates early in the construction process
By considering the supply of aggregates early in the overview planning process, the conditions will be better for increased material recycling, efficient logistics and efficient material supply. Effective mass logistics require a holistic approach, collaboration between many actors and good planning.