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News | Dec. 14, 2023

Demil specialists best tough-to-destroy ballistic glass

By Jake Joy DLA Disposition Services Public Affairs

Once shredding began, it took just an hour to render more than 18,000 pounds of armored glass properly demilitarized. It was the getting to that moment that took awhile.

An eight-month pause in the destruction of ballistic glass came to an end in late October when the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services Central Demilitarization Depot team in Kaiserslautern, Germany, oversaw a unique but required scrapping effort long in the making.

According to CDD Chief John Brown, many scrap metal dealers in Germany can demilitarize armored glass but choose not to because the material is generally considered rubbish. Regular recycling facilities can also process glass but won’t accept shipments because of the difficulties involved in separating the glass from its metal frame. Additionally, there are several layers of plastic foil within the glass that regular glass recyclers balk at handling. The Mannheim-based firm that recently agreed to destroy the ballistic material was the third destination DLA turned to just since 2022. When the work is taking place, the process itself is relatively simple.

“Once the truck arrives at the recycling facility, the certifier and verifier will verify the seals on the container,” Brown said. “At that point the driver will open the back of the metal container and dump the glass onto the ground. Once the truck is verified as empty, the scrap handler operator at the facility will load the glass into the shredder and will run the residue through as many times as needed to complete the demil operation.”  

Agency property disposal specialists at the Kaiserslautern CDD demilitarize U.S. military equipment from all over Europe and Africa. Much of that demilitarized material is sold under scrap sales contracts. In fiscal 2023, DLA Disposition Services sold 284 million pounds of scrap that earned $17.9 million toward warfighter property disposition support operations.