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DTA: Grow Your Own Textiles: Fostering a circular economy through self-sufficiency

   Department of Materials

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  Dr C Jones, Dr C Henninger, Dr A Gallego Schmid  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Manchester United Kingdom Chemical Engineering Ecotoxicology Marketing Materials Science

About the Project


UKRI (2020) announced a £22.5 million government investment to promote a more circular economy. Textiles and the fashion industry, have been made a priority, as they are seen to be the second most polluting industry and 4th largest sector that has a significant impact on climate change (UKRI, 2020).

The textile and fashion industry are dominated by a linear model (take-make-use-dispose), which brings forward various sustainability issues. The circular economy is seen to counteract various aspects of these negative implications by designing out waste and pollution, regenerating natural capital, re-looping materials back into the supply chain and making more use of idle capacities. Yet, it has been pointed out that “it is very much less easy to progress from theory to practice and there is a need for substantial technological, organisational and institutional innovation” (EPSRC, 2019: 1). This can be achieved by combining lifecycle assessment, with circular thinking, and textile technology, as issues cannot be addressed in isolation, but need an interdisciplinary perspective (Gallego-Schmid et al., 2020; Henninger et al., 2020)

We have seen an increase of natural cellulosic fibres (e.g. flax) that can be grown within the EU/EEA in an attempt to promote self-sufficiency of regions and reduce the overall environmental impact of fibres on the environment. What currently remains under-researched is the overarching impact of these ‘homegrown’ cellulosic fibres (e.g. flax) and circular economy principles through the entirety of the lifecycle. 

This interdisciplinary project combines circular business model innovations, LifeCycle Assessment (LCA), and textile technology, through the following aspects:

1.      Dyeing Process of natural cellulosic fibres (e.g. flax) and impact on LCA

Expanding on research by the EEA (2021), this project will provide new insights into the environmental impacts of natural cellulosic fibres through a two-phase process. Phase 1 combines LCA and textile technology processes to assess the environmental impacts of applying natural or synthetic colourants to these fibres against their colour performance and fastness properties. Phase 2 will conduct a comparative LCA of 1kg of woven cellulosic fibres that is untreated, with 1 kg of woven cellulosic fibres that has been dyed (e.g., one sample per dyeing process: reactive, direct, natural).

2.      Stakeholder mapping and engagement

Based on the results from the LCA and in-line with bridging theory and practice this project will conduct a stakeholder mapping exercise, by further exploring the feasibility of creating a circular economy and outlines potential challenges and solutions. 

Applicants should have a minimum 2.1 honours degree, preferably first class. Subject background ideally in, but not limited to Textile science, Marketing management and Environmental or Chemical Engineering.

At the University of Manchester, we pride ourselves on our commitment to fairness, inclusion and respect in everything we do. We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and identities, and encourage you to bring your whole self to work and study. We will ensure that your application is given full consideration without regard to your race, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, age, marital or pregnancy status, or socioeconomic background. All PhD places will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Anthony Morris ([Email Address Removed]). Anthony Morris is not involved in recruitment decisions.

Funding Notes

Funding will cover UK tuition fees and RCUK recommended stipend.


EEA (2021) Resource efficiency and waste EEA (online):, 11/06/2021
EPSRC (2019) Impact Assessment of EPSRC funding on the Circular Economy, EPSRC (online):, 11/06/2021
Gallego-Schmid, A., Chen, H.M., Sharmina, M., & Mendoza, J.M.F. (2020) Links between circular economy and climate change mitigation in the built environment, Journal of Cleaner Production, 260: 121115
Henninger, C.E., Blazquez Cano, M., Boardman, R., Jones, C., McCormick, H., Sahab, S. (2020) Cradle-to-cradle vs consumer preferences, in Choudhury, I. & Hashmi, S. (eds) Encyclopedia of Renewable and Sustainable Materials, Volume 5, pp. 353-357, Elsevier: Oxford
Remy, N., Speelman, E., & Swartz, S. (2016). Style that’s sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula, McKinsey (online),, 10/03(2021
UKRI (2020) Circular economy centres to drive UK to a sustainable future, UKRI (online):, 11/06/2021
WRAP (2020a) Changing our clothes: Why the clothing sector should adopt new business models, WRAP:, 27/06/2020
WRAP (2020b) 67 million clothes could be discarded by UK homes post lockdown, WRAP):, 27/06/2020
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