Characterization of dredged sediments: a first guide to define potentially valuable compounds – the case of Malmfjärden Bay, Sweden
Millions of tons of bottom sediments are dredged annually all over the world. Ports and bays need to extract the sediments to guarantee the navigation levels or remediate the aquatic ecosystem. The removed material is commonly disposed of in open oceans or landfills. These disposal methods are not in line with circular-economy goals and additionally are unsuitable due to their legal and environmental compatibility. Recovery of valuables represents a way to eliminate dumping and contributes towards the sustainable extraction of secondary raw materials. Nevertheless, the recovery varies on a case-by-case basis and depends on the sediment components. Therefore, the first step is to analyse and identify the sediment composition and properties. Malmfjärden is a shallow semi-enclosed bay located in Kalmar, Sweden. Dredging of sediments is required to recuperate the water level. This study focuses on characterizing the sediments, pore water and surface water from the bay to uncover possible sediment recovery paths and define the baseline of contamination in the water body. The results showed that the bay had high amounts of nitrogen (170–450 µg L−1), leading to eutrophication problems. The sediments mainly comprised small size particle material (silt, clay and sand proportions of 62 %–79 %, 14 %–20 %, 7 %–17 %, respectively) and had a medium–high level of nitrogen (7400–11 000 mg kg−1). Additionally, the sediments had little presence of organic pollutants and low–medium concentration of metals or metalloids. The characterization of the sediments displays a potential use in less sensitive lands such as in industrial and commercial areas where the sediments can be employed as construction material or as plant-growing substrate (for ornamental gardens or vegetation beside roads).