Prokotex recycles bulletproof vests

Founded in Belgium 55 years ago, Procotex has emerged as a pioneer in the materials industry, raising the bar in sustainability. Owned and run by four brothers, the company is at the forefront of environmental awareness. In an exclusive interview with Sales Manager Dieter Henau, hosted by at Milipol Paris 2023, he discusses the recycling process for bulletproof vests.

Diverse business portfolio

Procotex Corporation demonstrates its versatility and commitment to sustainability by operating across three main business areas: the first is hackling of flex fibres, the second focuses on recycling synthetic, polypropylene and natural fibres for automotive applications. Of particular interest is the third business, which specialises in the recycling of carbon fibres and aramid fibres, with a particular focus on the reprocessing of bulletproof vests to support the aramid fibre sector.

Innovative recycling process

Recycled aramid fiber | ©

At the core of Procotex Corporation’s sustainability mission is a meticulous recycling process that begins with the collection of para-aramid manufacturing waste, including tissue, filaments, yarn and scraps. Through advanced mechanical processing, these residues are transformed into versatile fibers, which are then finely ground into a powder.

An important step was taken about five years ago when Procotex Corporation introduced a solvent decomposition process for laminated para-aramid materials. This innovative procedure effectively removes resin from the material, contributing to improved operational sustainability.

When it comes to recycling bulletproof vests made from both aramid and polyethylene (PE), Procotex does not currently process the PE, so a mechanical process separates the two materials. Dieter Henau explains that the PE layer is cut out and the aramid is then recycled as normal. He adds that this is a very complicated process and puts a lot of strain on the plant.

Acquiring recyclable products

Procotex Corporation takes a strategic approach to sourcing recyclable products. The company partners with government agencies, law enforcement and military organizations through supply agreements. The company works with bulletproof vest manufacturers to either receive payment for taking back used bulletproof vests or pay to purchase them. After the dismantling and recycling process, Procotex Corporation issues a certificate to ensure accountability and adherence to strict quality standards.

Embracing sustainability

Procotex Corporation goes beyond corporate commitments to incorporate sustainability into its operations. The company has installed solar panels on its factories, self-sufficient for approximately 70% of its energy needs. At a time when sustainability is the new norm, Procotex Corporation has emerged as a conscientious corporate citizen. The company’s unwavering commitment to material sustainability sets an example for others, inspiring the industry to embrace a greener and more sustainable future.

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