The circular economy and the defense industry

May 10, 2022 | News

The concept of circular economy is a method of production and consumption which, through sharing, leasing, re-use, repair, refurbishment or recycling, enhances existing products, raw materials and materials. In practice, this is not just about recycling waste, but also, for example, the right to repair or the sustainable design of products. This concept has its roots in ecology, but these principles are also highly relevant for the defense industry.

The European Defense Agency (EDA) has organized the Forum for Circular Economy in European Defense (IF CEED), whose members, composed of experts from EU Member States, are working on how to streamline the circular economy in the European Defense production chain. industry through information sharing. In such a way to protect classified or business sensitive data. For example, the implementation of part of the EU Waste Framework Directive or the use of so-called Digital Product Passports, which are used to collect all relevant product life cycle data, are being considered as recommendations.

The lack of critical raw materials and components due to the increasing technical complexity of defense technologies and dependence on imports in the defense industry in the event of a military conflict has plagued the EU for some time. However, this topic came to the fore in 2016, when the presidency of Donald Trump shook the confidence of European countries in the reliability of the United States as an ally within NATO.

Unfortunately, the current situation has shown that Europe is not immune to military conflicts either. At the same time, this situation is leading to a drastic increase in defense spending in European countries. The European defense industry will be under great pressure in connection with the deployment of a significant amount of military equipment in support of Ukrainian defenders, which will have to be replaced. At the same time, it is also necessary to take into account restrictions on exports from Ukraine (such as steel and iron ore) and sanctions adopted since the beginning of the Russian invasion on both sides, which will lead to further restrictions on raw materials for the defense industry.

The adoption of the principles of the circular economy has the potential to mitigate the effects of the current security environment and thus increase the defense capabilities of European countries individually and as a whole.

More on the IF CEED website