University of Leeds launches Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion and Textiles Network

The University of Leeds is happy to announce that it is one of the beneficiaries of a £6 million investment by NERC, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Innovate UK (all part of UKRI) to help assess the sustainability credentials of current and proposed practices across the fashion and textile industry.

Led by the University of Leeds, the Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion and Textiles Network is one of three newly announced networks and part of the UKRI’s £15 million circular fashion programme.

The fashion and textile industry is estimated to be worth £21 billion to the UK economy and provides more than half a million jobs.

But globally, the sector causes 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of wastewater.

Fashion uses more energy than both aviation and shipping combined.

Back to Baselines in Circular Fashion and Textiles Network

Led by Professor Stephen Russell, 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.

This interdisciplinary network has been awarded £1.6 million and will determine how to assess, evidence, and monitor the sustainability credentials of current and proposed practices across the fashion and textile industry to ensure congruence with net zero targets.

The work will identify the sectoral, disciplinary, technical, cultural, and skills-based barriers to transitioning to more sustainable practices. As well as those areas where specific interventions could result in the highest impacts, to decide where best to target future innovation and priorities.

The network will also take account of ongoing disconnects between design, manufacturing, retail, use and end-of-life disposal that contribute to environmental impacts.

Professor Peter Liss, Interim Executive Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), part of UKRI, 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.”

Caroline Rush, Chief Executive, British Fashion Council, said:

“The British fashion industry leads in creativity and its founders and entrepreneurs are leading innovators in their field.

However, in order to responsibly grow businesses at a time of great change requires platforms, support, and co-ordination.

We look forward to working with industry and government to support the UK in retaining its reputation as creative leaders in a global industry and to develop its ability to responsibly and collectively address how we accelerate to a leading Circular Fashion Eco-System in the UK.”

Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT, the UK Fashion and Textile Association, said:

“Sustainable manufacturing and recycling infrastructure will be key drivers in the move to a circular fashion ecosystem here in the UK.

We’re excited to work with the BFC to support our industry to connect, collaborate and share experiences to build the most resilient, sustainable, and competitive sector for future generations.”