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Back to Baselines: New call opens for Sustainable Transition Fund


UK fashion and textile businesses, universities and other organisations can apply for up to £50,000 in funding to run short-term projects that will help inform the development of sustainable practices in the sector, via the Back to Baselines network.

This is the second of three Sustainable Transition Fund calls being offered by the Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion & Textiles network. This collaborative initiative, led by the Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour (LITAC), brings together academic researchers from different disciplines, leaders of industry, sector and government bodies. It is working to assess current sustainable practices within the UK fashion and textile industry and establish a data-driven baseline to ensure future industrial practice and investment strategy is aligned with environmental targets.

The Sustainable Transition Fund will be awarded to collaborative partnerships between industry and academia. Three levels of funding are offered depending on the scale and potential impact of the work: up to £5,000, up to £20,000, or up to £50,000. All projects should be completed within a six-month period after their contracted start date.  Applications must align with one or more of the Back to Baselines Thematic Areas of research, which are:

  1. Determining environmental target areas.
  2. Developing effective eco-credential standards.
  3. Assessing innovation progress currently and for emerging and future.
  4. Identifying major skills gaps.
  5. Understanding & influencing cultures & behaviours.

Applicants should submit an initial project outline of 250 words (maximum) and specify the Thematic Area to which the project aligns. Initial project outlines should be sent to the B2B Network Coordinator: Madeleine Ogle at m.v.ogle@leeds.ac.uk before 31 July 2024. This preliminary step is to help ensure time is not spent on full submissions that are out of scope. If eligible, a full application can then be submitted, for which guidance will be provided. The deadline for submission of full applications is 31 August 2024.

Professor Stephen Russell, Director of LITAC and Co-Director of the Back to Baselines network, said: “The first call of the Sustainable Transition Fund resulted in a variety of exciting and innovative projects, and we’re looking forward to supporting new projects with the potential to fill data and knowledge gaps. This funding offers real potential for industry and academia to collaborate, generating new evidence and data that will ultimately inform decision-makers about the current baseline position, and help businesses to meet and exceed sustainability targets.”

Grants already awarded via the Sustainable Transition Fund

The first call for applications to the Sustainable Transition Fund took place earlier this year and grants have been awarded for six collaborative projects, which will focus on the following areas:

  • An analysis of textiles destined for disposal in the Greater Manchester region, gathering data on the nature, quality, and material of end-of-life textiles.
  • An investigation into the eco-credentials relevant to the UK fashion and textile industry, mapping them against forthcoming regulations. This could help industry achieve compliance with future regulation.
  • Testing the concept of a visible Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) fee on clothing items (which would indicate the environmental impact of the garment), to determine whether this changes consumer buying habits.
  • The development of an Open Standard for Textiles and Fashion data, which will help to drive consistent data across many businesses, making comparable reporting and assessment more viable.
  • A detailed analysis of the flows of non-clothing textile streams in the UK, to enable the effective implementation of reuse and recycling strategies.
  • An exploration into the under-utilisation of clothing in the UK, focusing on consumer perceptions and barriers to resale, in order to help cultivate a wider culture of re-use.

Please note that Call 2 is unlikely to fund projects in the same area to avoid potential duplication of outcomes.

About the Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion and Textiles Network

The Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour (LITAC) is leading the Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion and Textiles Network, in partnership with UKFT, the UK’s Waste Resources and Action Programme (WRAP), and researchers from multiple UK universities, to establish comprehensive and scientifically-backed environmental and design baselines, standards and principles for the UK Fashion and Textile industry. The partner universities in the Network are:

  • University of Leeds
  • University of the Arts London
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • University of Huddersfield
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Newcastle University
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • Royal College of Art.

About Network Plus

Back to Baselines is one of three sub-networks within the Circular Fashion and Textiles Network Plus, a collaboration that is working to help understand and drive the fashion and textile industry towards sustainable and responsible practices. The other sub-networks within the collaboration are:

  • IMPACT+, led by Northumbria University, which aims to improve the collation, analysis, and assessment of data to advance the reliability and authenticity of environmental impact measures.
  • Future Fibres Network+, led by the University of Exeter, which aims to embed environmental sciences at the heart of fashion, wider apparel, and textile sectors.

The Network Plus is part of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Circular Fashion Programme, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Innovate UK.

UKFT is involved with a number of projects to support innovation and sustainability in the UK fashion and textile industry. Find out more on the link below.

Innovation and Sustainability