UKRI commits £6m to enhance circular fashion

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has committed £6m to the fashion and textile sector to improve approaches to circular business models and provide industry support.

UKRI commits £6m to enhance circular fashion

According to a United Nations Economic Commission for Europe report, textile manufacturing contributes to 10% of worldwide carbon emissions

The funding has been provided by NERC, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and Innovate UK, all entities under the umbrella of UKRI.

This funding will back three research teams including the Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion and Textiles Network, led by the University of Leeds, establishing sustainability benchmarks; the Future Fibres Network, led by the University of Exeter, integrating environmental sciences into fashion, apparel, and textiles; and the IMPACT+ Network, led by Northumbria University, enhancing environmental impact data reliability and analysis.

NERC’s interim executive chair of the natural environment research council Professor Peter Liss 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.”

According to a United Nations Economic Commission for Europe report, textile manufacturing contributes to 10% of worldwide carbon emissions, while heavily depending on water and natural resources.

Furthermore, textiles constitute the primary origin of microplastic pollution, making up 35% of ocean microplastics, as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

A 2021 report, co-authored by Fashion for Good and the Apparel Impact Institute, projected a requirement of more than $639bn in investment by 2050 to advance low-carbon solutions throughout the fashion industry’s value chain, encompassing renewable energy, energy-efficient technologies, and transportation enhancements.

The report also approximated a need for a $405bn investment in solutions such as inventive fabric processing, materials, chemical recycling, and agricultural technologies.

Science-based targets

Last year, an analysis conducted by revealed that 50% of the evaluated fashion brands including H&M and Kering lacked verification from the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) for their emissions objectives, and an equal proportion had not disclosed interim goals before 2030.

In June this year, companies such as Kering, Chanel, Adidas, and H&M committed to adopting a sector-specific manual for nature-related science-based targets, in an effort to establish tangible and measurable nature targets.

Last month, About You, Yoox Net-A-Porter and Zalando announced an expansion of their joint initiative, ‘Fashion Leap for Climate’, to further assist fashion brands in quantifying their carbon footprints and establishing science-based targets.

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