RE ZRO armour protects you and the planet: Brit innovation ready to hit the market

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With the drive towards net zero, a new body armour firm have created what’s said to be the world’s first 100% recyclable and 100% biodegradable impact protection.

Currently in testing for CE levels one and two, the purple armour is known as RE ZRO and is claimed to be capable of completely biodegrading in three to five years, should it find itself in landfill.

“Our vision at the start was clear; we wanted to design body armour with sustainability at the forefront, but it didn’t take too long realise that recyclability alone was not enough,” CEO Wil Marschall told MCN.

“The sad truth is that the consumer can do everything in their power to recycle a product, but there is a very high chance that it will end up in landfill anyway.

“For this reason, we had to look at the entire production process and ensure that RE ZRO products would biodegrade if they were to end up in landfill. We also wanted to achieve all of this without any compromise on performance.”

Founded by three friends – two of whom formerly worked for Croydon-based armour specialists D3O – the company have confirmed to MCN that they are in talks with motorcycle clothing brands to bring the product to market during the winter of 2023.

RE ZRO impact protection held in hands

Made without the use of polyurethane (PU), the lightweight, flexible armour is said to eliminate the waste and pollution-heavy manufacturing process traditionally used in the creation of impact protection.

“A lot of the protectors on the market these days are still made with polyurethane. Manufacturing of this, in itself, is quite a dirty process, produces a lot of gas and produces a lot of release agents,” co-founder Alex Yellowley told MCN.

“And, of course, it produces a product that is barely recyclable. You can reconstitute it into things, but you can’t create a performance product from that.”

Despite their eco credentials, the products are designed not to lose strength over time when used in an item of clothing.

“If they end up in landfill – ie oxygen-depleted, microbe-rich environments – that’s when they start to break down,” he continued. “So, if you’re sweating into a jacket and are wearing it for 10 years it’s not going to affect the performance of the material.

“[Being in the ground] allows the microbes to break it down into biogas and biomaterials. It’s a natural decomposition process. What we’re doing is making our materials appear tasty to micro-organisms like fungi and bacteria, so they then colonise the material,” he continued.

RE ZRO impact protection

“Over time, they then use the carbon in the plastic as their food source and they break it down.”

Alex believes the RE ZRO’s degradable material could be used for more than just limb armour. He said: “There’s potential for us to integrate it into palm sliders, hard knuckles, things like that as well. There is plenty of scope for us to expand on what we’re doing here.”