Fashion needs to embed more sustainable practices

Boost for greener fashion: UKRI commits £4.6m to support more sustainable practices

The UK fashion industry is set to receive a £4.6 million boost to help support the implementation of more sustainable practices within the sector.

UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) has committed the sum via three new networks which are aimed at helping the wider textiles industry embed more sustainable practices that can help reduce the sector’s already significant impact on the environment.

The UKRI is a non-departmental public body of UK government that directs research and innovation funding to chosen causes, via the science budget of the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology.

According to the body, the three networks will comprise teams of researchers, industry experts and other stakeholders, who will build banks of data and knowledge in an effort to make positive progress in the fashion industry.

What are the three networks?

Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion and Textiles Network

  • Led by the University of Leeds
  • Other universities involved: University of the Arts London; Nottingham Trent University; University of Huddersfield; Manchester Metropolitan University; Newcastle University; Heriot-Watt University; Royal College of Art
  • It will establish a baseline to analyse the current status of sustainable practices in the industry
  • Funding total: £1.6 million.

Future Fibres Network

  • Led by the University of Exeter
  • Other universities involved: University of the Arts London; University of Leeds; University of Huddersfield; University of Plymouth
  • It aims 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
  • Funding total is £1.6 million.

IMPACT+ Network

  • Led by Northumbria University
  • Other universities involved: Loughborough University; King’s College London
  • It 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
  • Funding total: £1.4 million.

What’s the reaction?

Professor Peter Liss, interim executive chair of the Natural Environment Research Council, which is part of UKRI, 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.”

He added: “This investment will bring together industry experts and researchers in environmental science and fashion to embed sustainability in the fashion and textile industry.”

Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council (BFC), 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 co-ordination. 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 ecosystem in the UK.”

Adam Mansell, CEO of the UK Fashion and Textile Association, said: “Sustainable manufacturing and recycling infrastructure will be key drivers in the move to a circular fashion ecosystem here in the UK.

“We’re excited to work with the BFC to support our industry to connect, collaborate and share experiences to build the most resilient, sustainable and competitive sector for future generations.”

Read more about the push for greener fashion retail on Green Retail World

[Image credit: Green Retail World]

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