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Sustainable manufacturing and recycling at the IPF Forum


UKFT presented the latest updates on sustainable manufacturing and recycling infrastructure as part of the Circular Fashion Innovation Network (CFIN) at the fourth annual Institute of Positive Fashion Forum, hosted by the British Fashion Council on 18 April 2024.

Adam Mansell, UKFT CEO at IPF Forum 2024

UKFT is leading on the sustainable manufacturing and recycling infrastructure pillars of CFIN, while the BFC is leading the circular business models, novel technology, diverse and future-proof workforce, and green growth pillars.

IPF Forum

Read an excerpt of UKFT CEO Adam Mansell’s speech below…

Sustainable manufacturing

As an organisation that has its roots in the UK manufacturing sector, it is really exciting to see some of the practical progress that is being made through CFIN to support the fantastic talent that exists in our UK fashion and textile manufacturing industry. 

We have launched two pilot programmes: one looking at final stage, onshore processing of denim and the other, a highly innovative approach to using AI to build a network of smaller local manufacturing centres that collectively can come together to meet the volume, speed, flexibility and quality requirements of major retailers.

We are working with the Robotics Living Lab at Manchester Metropolitan University, the Manufacturing Technology Centre and a group of manufacturers and premium retailers to explore ways in which robotics can drive productivity in local manufacturing.

We’ve launched a series of sustainability guides specifically for manufacturers – the first looked at the use of sustainability standards and the second at green claims. Further editions will look at supply chain due diligence for manufacturers and chemical compliance, among other topics.

While our focus is very much on UK manufacturing, we know that the vast majority of manufacturing happens in the Far East and therefore we are also looking at global developments to see how they could help drive sustainable manufacturing here and specifically we have commissioned research into global developments in dyeing technology.

We have other projects coming on stream and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. 

Adam Mansell, UKFT CEO at IPF Forum 2024

Recycling infrastructure

The other pillar we are leading on is focused on textile recycling. In this room, we’re all aware about the hugeamount of textiles that are thrown away each year and we know that EPR legislation is coming that will help with some elements of the waste issue. But to really unlock the potential that is in textile waste, whether that is industrial, post consumer or deadstock, we need a national textile recycling infrastructure. An infrastructure that captures, sorts and processes textile waste and produces recycled wool, polyester and cotton at scale. Working with key players across the textile waste chain, we are developing a 10-year plan for a national textile recycling infrastructure, which will outline what is required from beginning to end.

Again there are plenty of opportunities to get involved to help us identify the challenges and opportunities. Many of you will know that UKFT is leading the ACT-UK project – a large consortium that are aiming to setup the first automated textile sorting and pre-processing plant, which will be a key part of the national recycling infrastructure and which, like CFIN, is funded by the broader UKRI Circular Fashion Programme.

Finally both within CFIN and in conjunction with Network+, which is the third part of the Circular Fashion Programme, we are also looking at the skills our industry will need to succeed in this new landscape. We are anticipating what jobs will be required in the future, what new degree programmes we will need (like the new BSc in textile innovation and sustainability at Leeds) and we are working to embed sustainability skills in all vocational qualifications, such as apprenticeships.

Thanks again to the team at the BFC for their work on CFIN and the IPF Forum.