Grenades exist to kill people. But Swedish scientist Elisabeth Hochschorner and her team reasoned that they could be made to be less-harmful to the Earth, something of particular relevance during training, when all the grenades blow up is the ground.
In a study to be published in an upcoming Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, they present the results of a "life-cycle assessment" of the environmental harm of grenade manufacturing and use, and found that the two most significant ways that grenades damage the planet are mining the copper used to make grenades and residues left over from the explosives themselves. The chemical remnants are more of a problem during training, as the copper can be recaptured and recycled; the mining, correspondingly, is more of an issue during wartime. The researchers also propose some ways to mitigate the problems.
The reaction that many of us might have is to argue that even better for the planet would be not using the grenades (or other munitions) at all. However, in a world where that scenario is not a likely one any time soon, it's good to see that green design methodologies can make things a little bit better, nonetheless.
Yes, this feels like the argument Amory Lovins uses when discussing why he works with the military (DoD) in the latest RMI newsletter. And it feels like the argument for using waste from industrial animal processing (turkeys, cattle etc) as biodiesel feedstock. What does it feel like? Weird; uncomfortable; sad :(