When body armor and bulletproof vests reach the end of their service life, law enforcement and military organizations must dispose of ballistic materials in accordance with National Institute of Justice (NIJ) regulations. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has provided a publication, Guide to Body Armor, which lays out standards surrounding body armor procurement, use, and disposal for law enforcement and military applications. These standards ensure that service equipment is responsibly destroyed, leaving no chance that it will end up on the black market and back in circulation.
In their guide, they describe their standards for the disposal of body armor: “When body armor is no longer serviceable, the agency must dispose of it in a responsible manner that should also prevent illicit use. If armor is disposed of in a landfill, unauthorized parties may obtain the armors; also, materials may not be biodegradable. Many materials used in manufacturing body armor are either fire retardant or inherently fireproof, so they cannot be incinerated. Certain material suppliers have ongoing recycling programs for out-of-service armor. Some body armor companies offer a “take-back” disposal. The agency should contact its armor supplier/manufacturer to see if quotes are provided for such services. You may also contact the NIJ CTP regarding possibly donating the armor for research purposes. Refer to the resource list in Appendix B for NIJ CTP contact information. When an agency disposes of unserviceable armors, it should require and obtain a record of disposition from the organization used to dispose of the armor. At a minimum, the disposition should list the armor by serial number, disposal method and disposal date. This chain of custody document should be retained by both the agency and the disposing company as a formal record of disposition.”
Rather than adding waste to landfills, however, companies like Fiber Brokers International, LLC, see the value in taking ballistic materials and safely recycling them to help manufacturers create new products. After destroying the body armor and ballistics materials that we receive, we recycle all leftover materials that can be reclaimed. Reclaimed materials are often useful and valuable, and can be recycled through partnering companies. For instance, leftover fiber from a ballistics vest may end up as a set of gloves after it is recycled and used in production. Our ballistic materials and technical materials often become brake pads, boat ropes, and tire treads, among other things.
We believe that body armor should remain in the right hands. That’s why we strive to ensure that outdated, damaged body armor is destroyed, where it may be reused as recycled materials. Fiber Brokers provides the secure deconstruction and recycling of ballistic body armor, so that you can rest assured your personal protective equipment and ballistics materials don’t make their way into the hands of criminals. In addition, we want to ensure that your PPE and ballistics materials aren’t reused when they are rendered ineffective — which may be hazardous to any user. Destroying these materials is the best option to ensure that body armor remains in the right hands, and only effective body armor remains in service.
In addition, due to the broad disposal issues related to ballistic body armor, we provide safe and documented deconstruction services to law enforcement and military agencies — you can rest assured that your body armor and ballistics materials have been successfully destroyed. You will be sent documentation proving that we received your materials and have destroyed them responsibly.
Ballistic Recycling International provides body armor recycling, Kevlar recycling and certified destruction services to government agencies and private organizations. Once certified destruction services are completed, our secondary initiative is to recover the core materials for reuse in the manufacturing of new non-ballistic products such as automobile parts, sporting goods, optical fiber cable systems and flame retardant clothing. The material recovered during the recycling process will be used to manufacture an assortment of non-ballistic products including tires, tennis rackets, hockey sticks, snowboards, brake pad, jet engine enclosures, optical fiber cable systems, rope, flame resistant and heat protective clothing and helmets.