UKRI invests £6 million in sustainable UK textile industry
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced a £6 million investment to assist the fashion and textile industry in integrating more sustainable and responsible practices.
The funding was awarded by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and Innovate UK – which all form part of UKRI. The investment falls under the public body’s £15 million circular fashion programme.
It will be used to fund three complementary teams of researchers, working in partnership with industry experts and other stakeholders across the industry. UKRI says the teams will build a bank of data and knowledge, and support the innovative sector in adopting sustainable circular business models.
The first network is the Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion and Textiles Network, which is being led by the University of Leeds. It aims to establish a baseline to analyse the current status of sustainability practices in the industry.
The Future Fibres Network, which is being led by the University of Exeter, hopes to embed environmental sciences at the heart of fashion, wider apparel and textile sectors, and establish systematic, circular and sustainable principles as the industry norm.
Finally, the IMPACT+ Network, which is led by Northumbria University, will assemble a cross-disciplinary team to improve the collation, analysis and assessment of data to advance the reliability and authenticity of environmental impact measures.
Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, said: “The British fashion industry leads in creativity and its founders and entrepreneurs are leading innovators in their field.
“However, in order to responsibly grow businesses at a time of great change requires platforms, support and coordination.
“We look forward to working with industry and government to support the UK in retaining its reputation as creative leaders in a global industry and to develop its ability to responsibly and collectively address how we accelerate to a leading Circular Fashion Eco-System in the UK.”
The need for a circular economy for the textile industry
Globally, the textile and fashion industry causes eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 20 per cent of wastewater. The industry is calculated to use more energy than both aviation and shipping combined.
The UK fashion industry is estimated to be worth £21 billion to the UK economy and provides more than half a million jobs.
Professor Peter Liss, Interim Executive Chair of the NERC, said: “The fashion industry makes a significant contribution to the UK. But it also impacts the environment, including using water resources and causing emissions of greenhouse gases.
“We need to better understand the true impact. This investment will bring together industry experts and researchers in environmental science and fashion to embed sustainability in the fashion and textile industry.”