Leeds signs up to tackle waste in fashion


Leeds is the first university to sign up to a voluntary agreement to slash the impact of the UK clothing and home fabrics industries on the environment.

Operating in line with the Paris Agreement and the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, the initiative will have a global impact.

Launched today, Textiles 2030 aims to transform the UK’s make-use-dispose fashion culture into one where products are made sustainably, used longer and then re-used or recycled.

Backed by Government, signatories include John Lewis, Primark, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer.

We are incredibly proud to be the first university to sign up as an affiliate to Textiles 2030

Dr Mark Sumner, School of Design

Dr Mark Sumner, Lecturer in Sustainability, Fashion and Retail in the School of Design, has been appointed to the advisory board for the initiative. He said: “We are incredibly proud to be the first university to sign up as an affiliate to Textiles 2030.

“The School of Design leads the sector in addressing urgent issues around sustainability in textiles, including pioneering initiatives such as Future Fashion Factory, which bring together industry partners, technology and researchers to help inform – and transform – manufacturing practice.  

“The energy and ambition of Textiles 2030, its industry signatories and the parent organisation WRAP, are inspiring, and we look forward to working with so many other key organisations over the ten-year period of the initiative to continue to address the impact that UK clothing and fabrics have on the environment.”

Leading the way

As an affiliate of Textiles 2030, the School of Design will provide expertise to support organisations such as clothing brands and recycling organisations as they set targets, measure the impact of products and track progress towards national targets as part of the initiative.

The school is very well-placed to play this role. A contributor to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020, which saw businesses respond to growing public demand for fashion with a reduced environmental footprint, it combines research expertise with industry experience and cutting-edge technology to build new solutions and create future leaders for the industry through undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Dr Sumner – one of several sustainability experts in the school – spent more than 15 years working for the UK’s largest clothing retailer, and was a consultant for brands, retailers and industry bodies.

He made a major contribution to the House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee report on Fixing Fast Fashion last year, and is currently engaged in research exploring the impacts of the Covid pandemic on the UK industry and workers in the supply chain.

Textiles 2030

Textiles 2030 is led by WRAP, a global NGO based in the UK that works with governments, businesses and individuals to ensure that the world’s natural resources are used sustainably.

The initiative is the first national agreement in what will become a global network of new initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of clothing around the world, led by WRAP.

The Textiles 2030 roadmap sets out water and carbon reduction targets. This Target-Measure-Act approach will be used so that textiles businesses set tough targets, measure impact and track progress on both an individual business basis, and towards national targets and public reporting.

Textiles 2030 environmental targets are:

  • Cut carbon by 50%, sufficient to put the UK textiles sector on a path consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change and achieving Net Zero by 2050 at the latest;
  • Reduce the aggregate water footprint of new products sold by 30%.

Marcus Gover, WRAP CEO, said: The UK Parliament has investigated the textiles sector twice in recent years and is now looking at UK fashion companies to act. Our research shows that consumers want sustainable clothes not disposable fashion.

"Textiles 2030 is about transforming textiles and creating a fashion sector fit for the future. We need fast, effective action from businesses more than ever. Brand and retail signatories must show their commitment by signing up to Textiles 2030. Businesses who fail to engage will be noticeable by their absence.”

Rebecca Pow MP, Environment Minister, Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “It is time for businesses across the textiles sector to join Textiles 2030 and play their part at this critical time for the planet. Through Textiles 2030 we invite your commitment to work with WRAP, like-minded businesses and other partners towards a thriving, sustainable, circular UK textiles sector. I would like to see every CEO involved in this initiative.”

Sustainability is at the heart of the University of Leeds’ new Strategy – Universal Values, Global Change.

Further information

For media enquiries, email University of Leeds Press Officer Prue Griffiths at p.griffiths@leeds.ac.uk.