As the body armor industry has seen a shift towards more sustainable means of manufacture, many companies are focusing on lowering their carbon footprint. EnGarde is one such company, who has shifted to renewable energy sources and has taken strong steps towards becoming completely carbon neutral.
EnGarde is a body armor manufacturer based in the Netherlands, whose range of ballistic vests and other armor products protect clients worldwide. Since the company was founded in 2003, EnGarde’s mission has always been to protect the lives of those who put themselves on the line defending the rights of others.
Alternative sources of energy now supply the EnGarde office and warehouse with more than enough sustainable energy to support their own consumption. The entire roof of the building will be covered in solar panels, generating electricity for the building.
Additionally, the building’s heating is provided from the nearby Alkmaar BioEnergy Plant (incineration of wood waste containing paint or glue) and the Waste Incineration Plant. The released heat from the plant produces electricity. The residual heat feeds the district heating, which includes the EnGarde office and warehouse.
Another strategy that EnGarde uses to reduce their environmental impact is to increase the lifespan of their products. By increasing durability of vests and body armor, the company ensures that their products are used for a long time. This reduces the demand for raw materials while simultaneously reducing waste as well.
Iwan Luiten, Managing Partner of EnGarde provided some insight into this matter. “Most ballistic vests sold worldwide have a five year warranty,” Mr. Luiten explained. “After that, we need to replace them due to wear and tear or other issues. At EnGarde, we offer a minimum warranty of seven years on our products. Some products even have ten years warranty.”
With EnGarde’s ten-year warranty, users would have to buy only one vest. A five-year warranty would mean that they have to buy two. “It is more profitable for body armor manufacturers to offer a shorter warranty period,” Mr. Luiten said, “but it is not so profitable for the environment.”
While these methods make a large difference, EnGarde’s products themselves play a role in lowering the company’s environmental impact. The ballistic materials used in EnGarde’s products are mainly from DSM Dyneema and Teijin Aramid; both companies which have recently taken significant steps to lower their carbon footprint.
DSM Dyneema, used in 80% of EnGarde products, already run their factories primarily on solar power, while also looking at ways to reduce packaging and waste. Another important development is their invention of Bio-Based Dyneema. They create this product from a bio-based raw material to reduce CO2 emissions.
Teijin Aramid is also very actively pursuing sustainability goals. They promote recycling and waste reduction with their Circular Economy Program. In 2021, they announced plans for building sustainable value chain alliances to reuse and recycle all ballistic products with minimal waste.