Designing the Green Transition

UK fashion interventions to implement a circular fashion ecosystem: upstream

Executive Summary

Despite its significant economic contribution, the fashion industry is a major emitter of greenhouse gases and has profound environmental and social impacts, including waste, pollution, and poor working conditions. The upstream supply chain, including design and sourcing, accounts for the majority of the environmental impact.

Research conducted by the IPF, based on stakeholder engagement and literature review, highlights four key challenges across the fashion industry's upstream supply chain: sustainable design, materials sourcing, manufacturing support, and skills development for repair and remanufacture.

Recommendations to address these challenges include regulatory measures such as tax incentives, digital product passports, and extended producer responsibility (EPR) taxes. Additionally, investments in technology and infrastructure for recycling and material sorting are essential.

The report emphasizes the interconnectedness of these challenges and the need for coordinated efforts to achieve a circular fashion ecosystem. By adopting circular practices, such as using recycled materials and promoting repair and remanufacture, the industry can significantly reduce its environmental footprint.

Furthermore, transitioning to a circular economy not only aligns with government objectives for net-zero emissions by 2050 but also presents opportunities for innovation, new business models, and green growth, contributing to societal and ecological well-being.



This research report has a focus on broad themes across fashion supply chain steps of design, sourcing and manufacture only, to answer the primary research question: How sector interventions can enable implementation of a circular fashion ecosystem, specifically in the upstream supply chain? Across the core themes of the upstream supply chain, this report presents findings based on research conducted from January to April 2023, using primary data the IPF gathered between 2021 and 2023 from across the fashion industry. This includes SME fashion designers in the BFC network, academia, brands, retailers, consultants, collectors & sorters & reprocessors, digital innovators, logistics providers, institutions and the third sector.

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