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Circularity of military equipment: EDA launches project focused on body armour

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The European Defence Agency (EDA), under the umbrella of its Incubation Forum for Circular Economy in European Defence (IF CEED), has taken a step further towards delivering greater circularity in European defence with the launch of a new project called “IOTA 2", targeting the circular management of body armour vests. IOTA 2 will be taken forward by an industrial consortium from four Member States, namely Luxembourg, Germany, Spain and France, and will run for the next 12 months. It represents a milestone for circularity in defence, being the first project implemented under IF CEED.

Data for circularity - The Digital Product Passport

Within the EDA’s IF CEED programme, the key role of data as an enabler for circularity has been identified, as the sharing of information on capabilities - among actors in circular value chains - allows for the extension of lifetime, repair and ultimately efficient recycling.

A preliminary study (IOTA) on data sharing schemes analysed the feasibility of the concept of the “Digital Product Passport” (DPP) in defence; technical, organisational and legal aspects were addressed, with a focus on the protection of sensitive information. On this basis, the IF CEED Project Circle “Circular Data” concluded that the DPP had a strong potential for circularity of military equipment but also for improved interoperability across functions (procurement, maintenance, logistics) and countries.

Circularity of body armour

To confirm this potential and test the application of a DPP, experts from Member States and industry have defined a project idea focused on an actual military product: body armour components. In January 2024, EDA and the selected consortium held the kick-off meeting of IOTA 2 project. Entities (+ImpaKT Luxembourg, FECSA, Rheinmetall Business Unit Protection Systems, ELMICRON Dr. Harald Oehlmann GmbH, Sopra Steria Group) from four countries will work toward a proof of concept, defining the requirements and bricks for a DPP of body armour inserts, from the data model to product identification and IT set-up.

As part of the effort of moving armed forces towards more sustainable practices, circular management of body armour vests will contribute to better efficiency in the use of resources, especially the extension of lifetime and reduction of waste. The implementation of the DPP concept also aims to bring operational benefits by improving traceability, product authentication and stock management.

IOTA 2 is a strong example of IF CEED’s role in supporting the development and dissemination of circularity in defence. This first project will be complemented by the implementation of actions in the other priority areas of the Forum.

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