Magazine article Geographical

Eco Warriors

Magazine article Geographical

Eco Warriors

Article excerpt

The environmental cost of military activities is significant. Could new 'eco-bullets' be an effective solution?

Every year, the US Army fires hundreds of thousands of rounds in combat training at outdoor facilities across the country. While repeatedly discharging bullets, grenades and mortars might be effective practice for hostile environments, it isn't great for the actual environment. Munitions can take hundreds of years to degrade, and, when they do, toxic metals such as lead often leach out contaminating soil, streams and groundwater stores.

Recognising this problem the US Department of Defense recently issued a request for the development of environmentally-friendly 40mm and 120mm training rounds; new technology which has a significantly reduced environmental impact when left out in the wild. By constructing prototypes out of biodegradable materials such as lignocellulose, soy, and bamboo fibres, they aspire to create rounds which will simply disintegrate over time, therefore having a far reduced impact on the local flora and fauna Ambitious plans proposed by the US Army Corps of Engineers' Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) go one step further, and suggest special bioengineered seeds could be packed inside these new rounds, meaning soldiers are inadvertently greening the landscape at the same time as undertaking target practice. …

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