Founded in Belgium 55 years ago, Procotex Corporation has emerged as an initiator in the materials industry, elevating the standards of sustainability. The company, owned and managed by four brothers, has positioned itself at the forefront of environmental consciousness. In an exclusive interview with Mr. Dieter Henau, the Sales Manager, hosted by BodyArmorNews.com at Milipol Paris 2023, discusses their process of recycling ballistic vests.
Diversified Business Portfolio
Procotex Corporation operates across three key business fields, showcasing its versatility and commitment to sustainability. The first involves flex fiber hackling, while the second focuses on recycling synthetic fibers, polypropylene, and natural fibers for automobile applications. Of particular interest is their third activity, specializing in the recycling of carbon and aramid fibers, with a unique emphasis on the reprocessing of ballistic vests to support the aramid fibers division.
An Innovative Recycling Process
At the core of Procotex Corporation’s sustainability mission lies a meticulous recycling process. The journey begins with the collection of para-aramid fabrication waste, including tissue, filaments, yarns, and salvages. A sophisticated mechanical procedure transforms these remnants into a versatile fiber, which is then finely milled into powder form.
An important step was taken around five years ago when Procotex Corporation introduced a solvolysis process for laminated para-aramid materials. This innovative procedure effectively removes resins from the materials, contributing to enhanced sustainability in their operations.
In the case of recycling ballistic vests that are made out of both aramid and polyethylene (PE), Procotex Corporation separates the two materials mechanically, as they do not process PE at the moment. Mr. Dieter Henau explains that they cut off the PE layers and then they recycle the aramid as usual. He also mentions that this is a very intricate process that represents a big workload on their factory.
When it comes to recycling ballistic vests composed of both aramid and polyethylene (PE), Procotex Corporation employs a meticulous mechanical separation process. PE layers are carefully removed, and the aramid is recycled in a manner consistent with their standard procedures. Mr. Dieter Henau highlights the intricacy of this process, underscoring the substantial workload it imposes on their factory.
Acquiring Recyclable Products
Procotex Corporation adopts a strategic approach to procure recyclable products. They engage with government bodies, police authorities, and military entities through supply contracts. The company collaborates with body armor manufacturers, navigating situations where they either receive payment to take used ballistic vests or make payments for their acquisition. Following the dismantling and recycling process, Procotex Corporation issues a certification document, ensuring accountability and adherence to rigorous quality standards.
Going beyond its corporate endeavor, Procotex Corporation integrates sustainability into its operations. The company equipped their plants with photovoltaic panels, generating approximately 70% of their energy needs. In an era where sustainability is the new norm, Procotex Corporation emerges as a conscientious corporate citizen. Their unwavering commitment to material sustainability sets a precedent for others, encouraging the industry to embrace a greener and more sustainable future.