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University of Leeds polyester project among John Lewis Circular Future Fund winners


The University of Leeds has been selected as one of the winners of ‘The Circular Future Fund: The Million Pound Challenge’, hosted by John Lewis Partnership and Hubbub. The fund aims to support trailblazing ideas and innovations that can accelerate the transition towards a more circular economy.

The UKFT Education Partner’s project was selected by the grant panel from 245 applications as one of the most innovative, impactful, and interesting approaches to boosting the circular economy.

The University of Leeds project aims to create a pilot prototype that demonstrates the ability to recycle polyester by using innovative CO₂ technology to separate dyes from fabric. The team will then quantify the economic and environmental benefits to enable scaling.

The new CO₂ technology reuses the dye, recycles the water, uses less energy and removes polluting auxiliary chemicals, the team said.

Other successful projects include Pip and Henry, which is redesigning children’s shoes to make them last longer, and the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC), which aims to build ‘lend and mend hubs’ in Scottish libraries. The lend hubs will provide free community access to sewing machines soldering irons and 3D printers in 10 pilot areas.

The fund offers grants between £150,000-£300,000 and winning projects were selected by a Grant Panel consisting of independent experts on the circular economy, grant making and innovation authorities, as well as senior representatives from the John Lewis Partnership.

Four high quality, innovative projects were selected and will be supported over one year, from May 2022.


The University of Leeds is a UKFT Education Partner. Interested in UKFT membership? Find out more here.