Sustainable beach nourishments at the Belgian coast
The impact of climate change on our coasts cannot be underestimated. Sea levels are rising and waves and storms are increasing in force. This threatens to destroy our beaches. We therefore have to restore our beaches every year to permanently protect our coast and hinterland. One of the ways in which we do this is by beach nourishment, a soft form of coastal defence. In beach nourishment projects, we restore the beach with a natural material: sand. Thanks to the dredged sand we bring in, the beach retains its natural coastal dynamics and can break heavy wave attacks during storms by itself.
Since 2021, we have been carrying out these beach nourishment operations in a sustainable way as the equipment that we use for these dredging and earthmoving works meets the strictest sustainability standards. A world first in the sector! Knokke and Raversijde came first and in 2022 the beach in Ostend will also be restored in a sustainable manner.
Dredging on 100% biofuel
The dredging vessels carrying out these works run on 100% renewable biofuel. This biofuel is a sustainable substitute for fossil diesel, made from oils derived from vegetable waste streams, and therefore not from food crops. The advantages? This sustainable fuel is sulphur-free and reduces CO2 emissions by as much as 90% compared to those generated by fossil fuels. This sustainable variant also releases significantly less particulate matter into the air, as it burns much more efficiently than conventional diesel.
Newest generation of bulldozers on the beach
Not only at sea, but also on land we managed to keep our emissions as low as possible. We equipped our bulldozers and excavators with advanced exhaust gas filter systems that reduce the emission of nitrogen and particulate matter by at least 80%. As such, our machines comply with Europe's strictest and most recent emissions standards: the Stage V standards.
Pioneer in the sector
Environmental criteria play an increasingly important role in the awarding of contracts. Also in Flanders. The maritime sector is taking its responsibility, with Jan De Nul acting as a pioneer. We engaged in a dialogue with the Flemish Government to change the policy in dredging contracts, by actively working towards an obligation to achieve a minimum 15% reduction in CO2 emissions on 80% of maintenance dredging contracts in Flanders by 2022. The projects in Raversijde and Ostend were still pilot projects for the integration of sustainability criteria in the award criteria. Meanwhile, we are going even further: the result of our efforts is that sustainability criteria now weigh at least 15% in the assessment for 100% of all dredging contracts. In this way, we greatly encourage other companies in our sector and value chain to also take energy- and emission-reducing measures.