UKFT is closely exploring the implications of extended producer responsibility (EPR) for the UK fashion and textile industry and to incentivise circular economy principles across the supply chain.
The EPR data sandbox project will see UKFT work with partners including QSA Partners, the British Fashion Council (BFC), the University of Exeter with support from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), and funding from Innovate UK’s NICER programme ‘Circular Economy for SMEs’.
The UK Government has indicated its intention to create an “Extended Producer Responsibility” (EPR) scheme for fashion and textile products. EPR is currently in place for packaging, e-waste and batteries – but all these systems were created before the advent of large-scale data systems. This project is unique because it aims to use industry data to develop a fair and level playing field for all companies making and selling clothing and textiles in the UK, and potentially create funds for supporting the development of world-leading recovery, sorting, reuse and recycling of clothing and textiles.
The partners will explore the use of an industry-led EPR system that incentivises circular economy principles across the supply chain and will enable a step-change in the adoption of circular approaches. Applicable to all supply chain players, the system will focus on fairly incentivising the reuse, refurbishment and resale of textile products.
It aims to create a market-based EPR system that is dynamic, flexible and adapts to the emergence of new technologies, retail systems and consumer behaviour. It will work with a range of garment producers and assess garment level data (such as fibre composition, fibre type) to understand the potential levers for different EPR mechanisms and how these impact different parts of the supply chain.
Gerrard Fisher from QSA said: “This project is looking at a radical and innovative approach to market data collation; any future EPR system needs to drive incentivisation to switch to circular options and disincentivise linear systems.”
Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT, and chair for the project, added: “The future EPR system must accommodate all supply chain players that we have in abundance in the UK. To have a system that can bring all these players together and make positive and proactive improvements to the UK economy is paramount.”
Caroline Rush CBE, Chief Executive, British Fashion Council, said: “The British fashion industry represents significant creative depth and reach in the UK and globally. We have an opportunity to develop an EPR system for fashion and textiles which focuses on maintaining value and longevity of garments to achieve a circular fashion ecosystem through reuse, refurbishment, and resale of products. An industry-led initiative like this has a chance to become an exemplar for others to follow.”
Professor Peter Hopkinson, Director of the University of Exeter’s CE-Hub, the coordinating Hub for the NICER Programme, said: “We are excited to develop systems based on the modern data capabilities brands and retailers have, and to be able to harness this complex and disperse industry data in ways that will provide accurate and relevant information on market share as well as ‘product circularity scores’”.
Together, pioneering brands are contributing with product information to support the data analysis and advising on most efficient ways to gather information from their systems.
The brands participating in the project include Marks & Spencer and John Smedley, among others.
A spokesperson for M&S said: “At M&S we’ve been sourcing and making products with care so they’re too good to waste right since our very beginning. Today, our approach to circularity is focused on promoting innovation, collaborative working and increasing our use of recycled fibres. This industry-led project both supports and challenges our Plan A roadmap, so we can ensure our products remain of the highest quality, last the test of time and really are too good to waste.”
A spokesperson for John Smedley added: “This is an opportunity for the textile industry to stay ahead of legislative action and make the process meaningful and applicable to all those companies that are wanting to do be responsible for process, product and planet”.
Data analysis work is in progress, and we aim to have outputs to share with key stakeholders from February 2024.
If you are a brand, retailer, platform or any other producer of garments and want to find out how to participate in the project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org