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Tracing data flows of waste textiles

UKFT is working on a project to improve the visibility of data flows of waste textiles, as part of our ambition to create a circular textile supply chain in the UK.

The Digital Supply Chain Hub Testbed for Textiles project will address the issue of the approximately 1 million tonnes of used textiles which are created in the UK every year. The UK is moving to redirect more than 400,000 tonnes of low value, non-reusable textiles from landfill into UK-based textile recycling plants and enabling retailers, collectors, sorters, recyclers and manufacturers to understand and report on used textile flows.  

With sustainability and reaching Net Zero key priorities for the UK manufacturing industry, the Digital Supply Chain Hub Testbeds, funded by Digital Catapult’s Made Smarter Innovation programme, focuses on the circular economy. It is hoped that these testbeds will facilitate the development of new tools and services that will bolster the efficiency and resilience of supply chains, leveraging emerging technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.   

Following a successful bid into programme, UKFT will be working with collectors, sorters and recyclers of post-consumer textiles, and the project lead Circle-8 Ecosystems, to develop technical solutions to access and use cross-supply chain data to deliver key insights into the economics and values of post-consumer textile waste to retailers and others in the supply chain. This project will provide critical input into other projects that UKFT is involved in to inform legislation, support commercial and business case planning and the viability of fibre recycling infrastructure in the UK.  The project will take place over the next 21 months.   

The project consortium consists of:   

  • Circle-8 Textile Ecosystems  
  • Responsiv  
  • Entopy  
  • Deloitte   
  • UK Fashion & Textile Association  (UKFT)
  • Oxfam   
  • Reskinned  
  • Shred Station  
  • Camira  
  • Begg X Co.  
  • M&S  

Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT, said: “We are entering an exciting new era for the UK textiles industry: understanding textile flows and facilitating transparency will build the commercial viability of fibre-to-fibre recycling, which in turn builds a strong future for our industry.”

Cyndi Rhoades, Founder of Circle-8, said: “The major barrier we face in successfully implementing fibre-to-fibre recycling is achieving scale and future feedstock supply to enable commercial viability. Working across supply chain partners to build visibility and data to build the business case is vital to success. Textile waste will no longer be a problem – it will generate economic and green growth.”

Tim Lawrence, Director of the Digital Supply Chain Hub said: “The challenges that are facing UK manufacturing are well known, the pandemic and the threats of climate crisis all adding to their woes. Digital technologies are available to address these pressures but adoption in industry has proved to be difficult because there is not an environment where their value can be tested without impacting the actual supply chain. These national testbeds create a digital environment where technologies can be developed and trialled. We’re building supply chains across the UK which are more efficient, resilient and sustainable.”

If you are a brand, retailer, platform, recycler or any other producer of textiles and/or garments and want to find out how to participate in the project, please contact info@ukft.org.