The European Defence Agency (EDA) managed Incubation Forum for Circular Economy in European Defence (IF CEED) has unveiled a series of project ideas that have so far been incubated within the forum, namely; circularity of titanium for armour via additive manufacturing, prototype of defence digital product passport, implementation of a SCIP (Substances of Concern In complex Products) database for defence exemptions, and green knowledge platform for defence are among the key examples.
Circular economy is one of the building blocks of the European Green Deal, Europe’s agenda for sustainable growth. By acknowledging the need for armed forces to mitigate their carbon footprint, IF CEED aims at implementing circularity principles in European Defence via concrete transnational projects that, beyond environmental benefits, also bring further operational efficiency to the military.
EDA’s IF CEED 2nd General Conference (15-17 May 2023, Madrid, Spain), brought together 135 representatives from 20 European countries. Opening the event, EDA Director for Industry, Synergies and Enablers Emilio Fajardo, stressed both IF CEED’s contribution to the EU green transition and how circularity is an enabler for “our primary focus: the effectiveness and the operational efficiency of European defence capabilities”.
Transnational project incubation
Since October 2021, a network of several hundred experts has been working within nine thematic project incubators, called “Project Circles”, covering domains such as critical raw materials, additive manufacturing, green procurement, spare parts management and eco-design of defence capabilities.
Developed over the past 19 months, the collaborative and transnational project ideas incubated within IF CEED were presented to the audience. Their concepts address all nine areas and cover both technological and organisational aspects. Their ambition is to improve visibly the level of circularity in defence by e.g.: closing the loop of materials for green products, adopting new approaches for ecodesign, disseminating best practices for EMAS and green procurement, testing digital passports for circular management of products, elaborating on defence-specific GPP criteria, recycling/re-using/recovering high value fibers from soldier equipment.
Additionally, overarching cases have been identified, such as methodologies and tools for environmental evaluation in defence or the contribution of circularity to the European strategic autonomy: a transversal and cross-fertilising approach among the nine IF CEED Project Circles, liaising their respective experts and igniting synergies.
Way ahead: From incubation to implementation
Reflecting on the outcome of this IF CEED “Phase I”, the presentations during the conference illustrate the ongoing work translating the designed projects into actual products and initiatives.
Funding supporting the actual implementation of the project ideas so far incubated have been addressed by the European Commission’s Directorate-Generals for Environment (as to the European Union’s LIFE programme) and for Defence Industry and Space (as to the European Defence Fund).
With the intervention of the Ministry of Defence of the Kingdom of Spain and the collaboration of FEINDEF (International Defence and Security Exhibition), IF CEED Conference welcomed representatives from Ministries of Defence, industry, research-and-technology organisations, universities, together with key European players, as the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) with the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP), the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Aerospace, Security and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) with its Task Force Green Defence.
The concluding plenaries of the IF CEED 2nd Conference have been integrated into the official programme of the opening day of the FEINDEF Foundation’s International Defence and Security Exhibition 2023, attended by over 450 exhibitors from 20 countries and 100 foreign delegations.
FEINDEF is a reference event that encompasses the defence and security sector, to innovate, cooperate internationally and share knowledge among companies and institutions. The hosting by FEINDEF of the final stock-taking sessions of the IF CEED Conference has represented a reciprocal acknowledgement of the respective relevance of the two endeavors and highly increased the visibility of Circular Economy in European Defence.
What is IF CEED?
The Incubation Forum for Circular Economy in European Defence (IF CEED) gathers experts from 29 countries in Europe to exploit circularity principles for the defence sector by incubating concrete and transnational project ideas. Co-funded by the EU LIFE programme and the Directorate of Defence of Luxembourg’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, IF CEED is a programme managed by the European Defence Agency (EDA).
EDA’s activities in “Green Defence”