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Fashion – Enter Wales: Novelle Yarn Desk Top Research – Wool & the Circular Economy #9


For the continued development of the Novelle Yarn feasibility study with SMARTCryum and Potter Group Eddie Bebb, Commercial Manager at Fashion-Enter Wales took part in a webinar organised by Innovate KTN UK on circular economy.

The Circular Economy Innovation Network aims to create stronger, more collaborative, and resilient industries working together to achieve net zero through circular innovation.

By building new sector communities, focused on circular design, circular business models, and circular recovery they are empowering industry members to come together for the first time to co-create a shared pathway for impact in achieving net zero through circular innovation.

Emma Mckenna, Head of Net Zero opened proceedings with an overview of Innovate UK’s broad aims. She then went on to announce that Innovate UK are launching three new challenge communities: Wool, aluminium and chemicals.

Amy Peace, Innovation Lead, explained the importance of retaining the highest value in a product as long as possible using the 5 R’s:

Repair, Reuse, Remain Useful, Recycle and Regeneration.

Professor Fiona Charnley then gave a presentation on the NICER programme detailing the Universities and Academics supporting the circular economy. The National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research (NICER) programme is a four-year £30million investment from UKRI to move the UK towards a circular economy.

Break out groups were then selected and Phil Stocker CEO of the National Sheep Association delivered a passionate presentation on the current position of wool within retail markets and the excellent properties it offers.

One point that resonated with me was that historically farmers would pay their rents using monies generated from wool sales, in recent times the value of wool has dropped to such a low level it barely covers the cost of shearing.

Shearing is now more important from a sheep welfare perspective to ensure that they avoid infestation from blow flies in the hot summer months.

Demand for wool has been decimated due to a lack of innovation and by cheap synthetic fibres. In terms of the global textiles market wool represents 1% in comparison to synthetics at 67% and cotton at 24%

He concluded by recommending a video on YouTube: ‘Why Wool Matters’ 

The final presentation was given by Angela Morris, MD of award winning WoolCool. Her company has developed a range of packaging which substitutes wool for man-made products such as polystyrene in packaging for food and pharmaceutical products.

This showcased the versatility of wool and proved that a natural, renewable and bio-degradable product is the way forward for a circular economy. 

More on this project next week.

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