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Beneficial use of sediment

The demand for marine sediment around the world is already enormous, and it is increasing, in particular for coastal protection and land reclamation. The recycling and use of that sediment – beneficial use – is a nature-based solution that can deliver economic, social, and environmental value on many projects.

Thinking about dredged material as a resource rather than a waste stream opens up a world of alternative and sustainable uses. This mindset fits in perfectly with the Boskalis sustainability strategy for coastal
and marine developments. We seek to establish synergies in and between our projects to create sustainable win-win solutions for our clients and the environment.


Sustainable resource
Using sediment ensures economy of scale: larger volumes can be transported by sea. Linking up different projects through the sustainable relocation of dredged material advances the circular economy, saves money and reduces carbon emissions.

Dredged sediment can be reused for land reclamation and waterfront development. The creation of nature islands is a key example of beneficial use.

Dredged sediment that would otherwise go to disposal sites can be re-purposed for the cleaning-up and redevelopment of industrialized, contaminated locations. Other activities include the capping of contaminated sediments, improving water quality, and the closure of landfills and mines.

Dredged sediments can be positioned strategically in coastal ecosystems which already trap and manage sediments naturally, supporting mangrove or wetland restoration projects. Beneficial use is highly valuable for
habitat restoration on degraded coastlines.

Coastal Resilience
Dredged material can supply mudflats, sandy shores and riverbanks with much-needed sediment. These systems are often the first line of coastal defense. With this approach, we enhance the natural value of coastlines, while cost-effectively improving the coastal resilience
to storms, flooding and sea level rise.

We can deliver sustainable win-win solutions by combining multiple projects through the reuse of dredged material. Transport movements, costs and carbon emissions can be cut significantly by sharing resources and following mutually beneficial strategies.

In a holistic nature-based solution, matching supply and demand, we co-developed the Marker Wadden archipelago in the Netherlands. This is one of the largest nature-based engineering projects in Europe. To resolve the ecological problems in the Markermeer lake, we relocated the sediment to create a mosaic of thriving habitats. The archipelago allows the lake and new marshland ecosystems to interact, boosting natural processes and improving water quality. The new islands also provide excellent opportunities for leisure, education, and science.

We have also worked on upgrades of multiple primary defenses in the Netherlands using beneficial use principles. More recently, we have been widening a 750-meter section of sea dike with dredged material that was transformed into clay through a natural ripening process.

Ecological factors were taken into consideration in each project. Cost-effectiveness was significantly increased by using a smart, cross-project approach that included beneficial use.

Restoration and coastal infrastructure projects almost always have major implications for local communities. Hence community engagement, good governance and proactive communications between stakeholders are key for beneficial use.

We have strategic partnerships with professionals all over the world, including knowledge institutes, engineering consultants, a number of universities and NGOs such as Wetlands International. Boskalis is also a leading partner of the EcoShape consortium, executing the Building with Nature program. We create opportunities for research, pilot studies and projects with our partners. We share our scientific knowledge and technical expertise as input for project development.

We collaborate closely to tailor beneficial use to your project and manage the entire process for you, from inspection and design through to the implementation of potential remediation work, transportation and disposal of sediment at the final destination. We are also open to natural infrastructure opportunities to collaborate and innovate.

Project highlights

JGU 20220616 001 0806 Boskalis

Marker Wadden

In order to build the Marker Wadden we dredged around 30 million cubic meters of silt, clay, peat and sand from the bed of the lake and used this soft material to create the islands and to restore the lake’s ecological balance at the same time.