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Fashion industry programme to create circular manufacturing

Fashion industry

Fashion industry sustainability is a priority as manufacturers and suppliers seek to reduce costs and meet climate targets. To address the practical issues involved industry leaders have created a ten-year Fashion Industry Sustainable Change Programme, aiming to create a circular fashion and textiles eco-system in UK.

Textile innovation in the UK is ranked number 3 in the world and number 1 in Europe in terms of patent generation and a recent survey shows that spending on R&D in the industry stands at five per cent of turnover – above the average for all manufacturing industries.

At the same time the demands placed on the sector to transform to a sustainable, environmentally responsible and ethical model has never been stronger. Circularity, sustainability and a transparent use of resources now dominate the agenda of all progressive fashion and textile companies.

UKFT has been working with the British Fashion Council (BFC), Innovate UK and other stakeholders to attract wide-ranging government support for a new 10-year Fashion Industry Sustainable Change Programme, focused on creating a world leading circular fashion and textiles eco-system in the UK.

The programme aims to deliver investment in skills, innovation clusters and regional regeneration, alongside the creation of an industry-led Centre of Excellence. It will focus on supporting the industry to embrace new circular business models and help to create the world-leading recycling and sorting infrastructure that will truly bring about systemic change and opportunities for UK manufacturing.

UKFT has been working closely on this agenda with Innovate UK, UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the Department for Business, Energy &  Industrial Strategy, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, the British Retail Consortium and Wrap (Textiles 2030). UKFT is also on the steering committee of the Institute of Positive Fashion, which is expected to lead the new Centre of Excellence.

“This is a pivotal time for UK fashion and textiles,” said Nigel Lugg OBE, chair of UKFT. “In order to survive and grow, it is essential that the sector strengthens its sustainable competitiveness. It will mean a fundamental change and one that needs to be delivered at pace, and will call for new skills and new jobs.

“We are delighted that the UK government is recognising the importance of our sector and the opportunities that exist. We look forward to working with the industry to drive a change with far-reaching benefits for the whole UK fashion and textile supply chain.”

Stephanie Phair OBE, chair of the British Fashion Council, said: “Imagine 10 years from now a city like Leeds which has a rich history in manufacturing and textiles retaining its role as a key part of the fashion and textiles industry and an example of a circular city with reprocessing plants, energised highstreets with takeback schemes where product is broken down, re-spun and made to create new fabrics; a city with an inclusive and diverse workforce, with new skills and learning opportunities. This isn’t a pipe dream – elements of this are already being seen around the world – we can bring this expertise together and make it a reality for the UK putting us at the forefront of change.

“The scale of the challenge is such that industry can’t do this alone. Many great things are being done in silos, but joining the dots, thoughtful regulation and supercharging change through funding will help the UK lead in this respect.”

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