A holistic value chain approach to circularity


Höganäs has broadened the way they work with circularity by looking at opportunities throughout the value chain – from the raw materials it sources to the products and residual materials it produces.

Höganäs’ Astaloy® CrS
Höganäs’ Astaloy® CrS

“Circularity is more than just finding uses for our residual materials – we must also consider the materials we source ourselves, the use phase of our metal powders and what can be done with them at their end of life,” explains Catharina Nordeman, Director Group Sustainability at Höganäs.

Sourcing secondary raw materials

Höganäs is increasingly sourcing waste materials from other industries. For example, the Höganäs plants in Halmstad, southern Sweden, and in Stony Creek, North America, source almost all their metal raw materials from scrap metal from regional industries such as the automobile industry. Höganäs plants around the world work to develop similar opportunities to source secondary raw materials that can promote circularity.

“Systematically increasing the amount of the secondary raw materials we source is not just important for circularity, it also helps us to reduce our value chain climate impact,” says Nordeman. “Sourcing secondary materials supports our target to reduce our scope 3 emissions by 30 percent by 2030, which includes the climate footprint of our raw materials.”

Considering the use and end-of-life phases of metal powder products

As the world leading manufacturer of metal powders, Höganäs has an important role to play in considering both the use and end-of-life phases of its products. Through a lifecycle approach to its metal powders, it can promote both circularity and sustainability.

“Our Astaloy® CrS pre-alloyed metal powder is a good example of one of our new products that considers circularity throughout the value chain. It is produced from over 98 percent scrap, promotes improved machining characteristics and high dimensional stability in its use phase, and is free from copper, which makes it easier to recycle at its end-of-life.”

Raising the bar on reusing residual materials

Höganäs has a long history of diverting its residual materials from landfill by reusing and finding alternative uses for them. For example, sponge iron slag is reused in Höganäs production processes and a large proportion of dust with high iron content is remelted. Most of the slag that is sold to external partners is used in the manufacture of stone wool insulation, with smaller amounts being used as gravel or macadam in load-bearing groundwork layers or in asphalt manufacturing.

In 2022, Höganäs set a circularity target to ensure that 95 percent of its residual materials are used as secondary raw materials and diverted from landfill by 2026.

“Today, almost 80 percent of the residual materials we produce around the world are used as secondary materials,” says Nordeman. “Seven of our 13 sites have already reached our 95 percent target, and some have achieved 100 percent, but we have challenges to overcome at some of our sites.”

Besides technical challenges to overcome and difficulties in finding potential customers for residual materials, some Höganäs businesses have encountered resistance from the authorities. “In Brazil, the authorities are not favourable to using secondary materials, so we have to send some slag to landfill as we cannot get the permit to sell it to a concrete company that is interested in using the slag as a raw material,” says Nordeman. “So it can be a challenge to get the authorities on board too in some countries, but we work systematically to find solutions and identify potential customers of for our residual materials.”