Circular fashion and sustainable manufacturing

circular fashion

A new industry-wide programme aims to support and guide the creation of a circular fashion ecosystem in the UK.

The Circular Fashion Innovation Network is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via Innovate UK, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) & Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and will be aligned to the Institute of Positive Fashion, a partnership between BFC and UKFT. 

The programme has six main areas of focus: recycling infrastructure; sustainable manufacturing; circular business models; novel technology; diverse and future-proof workforce and green growth.

In partnership with the BFC, it aims to convene industry, academia and innovators to accelerate work and expertise needed to create a circular fashion ecosystem in the UK with an innovation-led mindset.

Through the Circular Fashion Innovation Network, UKFT’s main areas of activity will focus on recycling infrastructure and sustainable manufacturing, and will be complemented and supported by a number of practical innovation and research projects to boost the competitiveness of the UK fashion and textile industry.

The programme will explore ways to reduce waste, lower the environmental impact of production and consumption in the UK while creating new opportunities for the UK fashion and textile industry. It will also link to existing projects to harness best practice and develop emerging technologies. UKFT and the BFC will set out their collective roadmap for change over the next few months.

The UK has a strong and diverse UK manufacturing sector which produces everything from luxury fashion and fabrics seen on catwalks around the world through to next-generation textiles used in aerospace, medical and construction applications. As part of this project, UKFT will be exploring how the UK’s manufacturing sector can support the transition to a circular economy, as well as limiting the sector’s impact on the environment through projects around on-demand manufacturing and regenerative textiles.

It will also look at ways to preserve artisan craft and heritage skills, while providing the right environment to support new techniques and new technologies within manufacturing to build on this already rich landscape.

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

Caroline Rush, chief executive, 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 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 Eco-System in the UK.”

In the UK we generate enough waste textiles every year to fill Wembley Stadium 17 times over. The waste can’t be reused – it’s either worn out, damaged or of poor quality. An estimated 200,000 tonnes are going direct to landfill or incineration. Globally less than one per cent of textiles collected are turned into new textiles. Transforming this waste into a new textile feedstock which can be used here in the UK presents a significant opportunity for the future of UK manufacturing.

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