Safe, Zero-Waste Recycling for Ballistics Materials

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. 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. 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. “What happens is that manufacturers give body armor a warranty of five years. After that, users need to turn them in and get new armor, but that doesn’t mean that the material is worthless,” says Kyle Lami, lead material procurement specialist. “Our goal is to acquire aged vests, do an inventory, and send the customer a list of serial numbers and a certificate of destruction.” William McCrary III, vice president of procurement and sales, explains, “This gives our customers documentation to verify NIJ compliance for disposing these materials.” For over 15 years, Fiber Brokers International has focused on the safe destruction and recycling of ballistic and non-ballistic materials. The company acts as an intermediary between law enforcement or military organizations with out-of-service body armor and recycling outlets that can reuse the raw materials in pulp or fiber form, minimizing waste in North America. Retired body armor arrives at their facilities in boxes sealed with tamper-evident tape. Team members place ballistic materials in locked storage until they complete an inventory. Finally, they deconstruct the vests and send them through a shredder to pull the ballistic fibers apart for safe reuse. 

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