Close up of blue clothes hanging up

The University of Plymouth is playing an integral role in a £1.6million project which aims to drive the decarbonisation of the fashion and textile industry.
The Future Fibres Network+ (FFN+) will draw together researchers and industry experts to embed environmental sciences at the heart of the fashion and textile sectors.
Funded by UK Research and Innovation, it will build on the University’s extensive research into the sustainability of the fashion industry. That has included the first research to highlight how microfibres are released into wastewater through the laundry process, and how mechanical devices can prevent their release.
The University has also led research that found clothing fibres everywhere from the slopes of Mount Everest to the River Ganges and the deepest oceans. It has also worked to influence national policies around sustainability in the fashion industry, contributing to Government reviews and debates on the issue.
The FFN+ project is being led by the University of Exeter, and also involves researchers from the University of the Arts London, University of Blackburn, University of Leeds, and University of Huddersfield.

The clothing and apparel market is a key part of the UK and the global economy. However, despite some notable exceptions and improved general awareness of the need for the industry to become more sustainable, it remains one of the greatest environmental polluters with impacts right along the supply chain. Through our work, we have provided clear evidence of solutions stemming from a better-by-design approach. The Future Fashion Network+ will enable us to expand that work, with the ultimate aim of creating a circular economy that reduces microfibre pollution to the environment and delivers positive changes for both the sector and society. A key and entirely novel initiative will be to implement transdisciplinary knowledge exchange for the next generation of fashion designers and environmental scientists in order to share understanding of the challenges and opportunities on the pathway to solutions.

Richard Thompson OBE FRSRichard Thompson OBE FRS
Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit

This is a fantastic forward-thinking and proactive project. Over the next two years, it will build a committed community of researchers across the disciplines along with key stakeholders across the fashion supply chain. By bringing existing initiatives and research together and identifying key gaps, this project will help the fashion industry – from designers to consumers – to be sustainable for everyone: the economy, people and the planet.

Kayleigh WylesKayleigh Wyles
Associate Professor in Psychology

The FFN+ project will build the critical mass of transdisciplinary expertise, and methodologies needed to establish systematic, circular and sustainable principles as the norm. A key objective is to counter the current siloed disciplinary approach that exacerbates the complexity of the environmental challenge. The FFN+ consortium is uniquely placed to address this issue, operating across established networks of expertise spanning environment, design, STEM and humanities capabilities across academic, industrial, public and private organisations, communities and networks.
Professor Tamara Galloway OBE, Professor of Ecotoxicology at the University of Exeter, will lead the project. She said:
“Our vision is to embed environmental sciences at the heart of the fashion and textiles sector. Building the Future Fibres Network is a first step towards transforming the fashion industry towards a new, low carbon future. We’re excited to be bringing together all sorts of expertise in business, design, manufacturing and the environment to achieve this. It’s no longer good enough to design textiles and garments without thinking about what happens to them at the end of their life; we need to design in sustainability from the start. This could include manufacturing smarter fabrics or garments that don’t cause harm to the environment during their manufacture, use and disposal, but could also include developing more circular, less wasteful supply chains or changing people’s perceptions and attitudes to the clothes they wear.”
The funding is part of £6million awarded to three teams of researchers by the Natural Environment Research Council, Arts and Humanities Research Council, and Innovate UK. It is a key part of UKRI’s £15 million Circular Fashion Programme.

International Marine Litter Research Unit

Marine litter is a global environmental problem with items of debris now contaminating habitats from the poles to the equator, from the sea surface to the deep sea. 
Furthering our understanding of litter on the environment and defining solutions.
Marine litter