Sandvik has introduced what it calls the industry’s first “opt-out” recycling program for mining customers using carbide drill bits. 

“Our breakthrough opt-out program supports our customers’ drive to mine more sustainably and demonstrates our commitment to delivering on Sandvik’s ambitious sustainability goals to halve CO2 emissions by 2030,” says Jens Holmberg, president of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ Rock Tools division. “We are determined to lead the industry into a new era, fully committed to embed circularity across an essential component of mining.”

Tungsten, a component in cemented carbide, is scarce and finite, with known deposits expected to run out — perhaps as soon as 40 years from now at current consumption rates. Recycling reduces reliance on new tungsten. It also requires 70 percent less energy and reduces CO2 emissions by 64 percent, the company says, while also cutting nitrous oxide emissions.

Sandvik says it aims to recycle 90 percent of the bits it makes by 2025. The scope of the initiative also includes bits from other manufacturers.

The company calls recycling of dulled drill bits an important aspect of mining industry sustainability, particularly amid soaring demand for mined materials like lithium and cobalt for clean energy efforts.

Historically, carbide recycling has suffered from limited collection of used products. Sandvik says it can now help customers overcome that challenge with extraction support. The company says this makes it easier, faster and safer to recycle dull drill bits, using a new patent pending method to reduce emissions from transportation up to 93 percent.

“Customer response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Holmberg says. “We need to transition our industry at an unprecedented speed. Our recycling program is one of many new initiatives you will see from Sandvik’s Rock Tools division moving forward.”

To coincide with the launch of the recycling program, Sandvik also launched a video designed to “address the stresses often associated with recycling.” The 1-hour video highlights the benefits of carbide recycling while encouraging everyone to experience the “calmness and wellbeing” of recycling.

“Our carbide recycling program is not only a good decision for the environment,” Holmberg said. “It also creates a sense of calm about doing the right thing.”

Sandvik offers equipment, tools, service and technical solutions for the mining industry and rock excavation within the construction industry. The company has more than 40,000 employees worldwide. For more information, visit