We are looking at the full lifetime value of next-to-skin clothing used by our armed forces, as well as other public servants like the police and fire service, to propose a more cost-effective procurement system that provides an effective circular model.
- We worked with British SME Armadillo Merino to provide a model that could allow their high-performance tactical clothing to be a cost-effective solution for institutions like the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
- The solution we devised restructures the procurement of garments to a leasing and live inventory management product-service system.
- This solution would allow our public services and the armed forces to use fire retardant, breathable, longer lasting and environmentally sustainable merino wool at a lower cost than present models.
- We estimate that a move to this model would save the MOD £226,000 a year as well as contributing £15 million to Armadillo Merino.
- Funded by Innovate UK.
Impact of our research
British outdoor clothing and equipment supplier Armadillo Merino is using the findings from our research to engage with senior industry executives, politicians and business leaders. This is to bring about industry change and change procurement guidelines to accommodate a long-term and sustainable approach.
The development of a circular business model offers more than an improved procurement process for public institutions such as the Ministry of Defence (MOD) but also substantial commercial and environmental benefits towards attaining a more cost-effective and sustainable system.
Further research will need to be completed to understand how the application of this circular business proposition is quantified, exploited and scaled.
Why the research was commissioned
For centuries, wool was the fibre of choice for clothing worn by soldiers, police, firemen and others. In recent years, cheaper synthetic fibres have become more common in next-to-skin performance garments.
However, merino wool offers better performance and protection as it is flame retardant and will not melt or stick to skin at high temperatures. It also provides better comfort as it has antibacterial properties and helps to manage moisture to the skin. And, as a natural fibre, it is renewable and biodegradable.
The major issue was the comparatively high cost which made this clothing less affordable for publicly-funded bodies. Our research was commissioned to find a solution that could ensure the best material was also the financially most appealing.
We are one of the leading universities in the world to address real-world business challenges with circular economy solutions.