The US Department of Defence (DOD) has put forward a plan to develop biodegradable training ammunition loaded with specialised seeds, meaning that when a bullet degrades, a plant will grow in its place.
The US Army currently manufactures and consumes hundreds of thousands of bullets per day in training exercises. The ground, over which these projectiles are fired, often becomes littered with cartridge cases and sabot petals, on the surface or even several feet underground. These components take hundreds of years to degrade, and there is no clear way of finding and eliminating all used projectiles from battle or training grounds.
The DOD says that these biodegradable bullets can be manufactured from water bottles, plastic containers and any other composite or plastic product available on the market. The US Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory has demonstrated that the bioengineered seeds that can be embedded in the resulting composites, and will not germinate until they have been in the ground for several months.
The seeds are said to grow into environmentally friendly plants, removing contaminates from the soil and consuming the biodegradable components of the bullets. They are also harmless to animals, allowing them to be consumed with no ill effects.