The grants will provide support for equipment or technologies that enable recycling or re-use of clothing or linen waste textiles

The grants will provide support for equipment or technologies that enable recycling or re-use of clothing or linen waste textiles

The UK's Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is making its GBP1.5m (US$1.9m) textiles grant fund more accessible and has streamlined the application process so funds can be allocated more quickly in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The grants are intended to support projects that provide innovative ways for textile waste to be recycled or re-used, keeping it out of landfill or incineration so that it remains a valuable resource. The money is part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) GBP18m Resource Action Fund, set up to support key priority policy areas.

Under the scheme, amounts between GBP20,000 and GBP170,000 (the maximum state aid threshold) are available to organisations of any size, both commercial and not-for-profit. The money is for capital expenditure only; either for equipment or technologies that enable recycling or re-use of clothing or linen waste textiles.

Successful projects need to demonstrate "innovation beyond normal practice" and will be assessed against a number of criteria.

Changes under the re-launched scheme are:

  • 100% of capital costs are now funded – no match funding required
  • The money will be released in milestone payments
  • The grant can be used to fund capital costs to reconfigure a business to comply with government guidelines on Covid-19 safety measures, where this forms an integral part of an innovative proposal/project.
  • Applicants are welcome to apply immediately

Increased textiles collection and reprocessing is required in the UK to help deliver the Resource and Waste Strategy (R&WS) and the Circular Economy Package (CEP) objectives, WRAP says. Existing markets for recycled textiles are said to be small scale and traditional, with limited innovation or growth potential.

To meet the requirement for separate collections of textiles by 2025, new processes and markets need to be found, to avoid separately collected items simply being discarded. In addition, the textiles recycling sector believes that export markets may diminish over time as other countries increase their exports of used textiles, WRAP adds.

The aim of the grant fund is to address the need for increased capacity, sorting, handling, and reprocessing of textiles from municipal sources.

"We have responded swiftly to feedback from the textile sector that businesses are struggling due to the negative impact of Covid-19. There has been an excellent response since this fund was launched in March. Now that there is no absolute deadline and no match funding required, I am confident that many more organisations will come forward with imaginative projects to combat barriers to textile recycling and re-use – and I urge them to apply soon, to make sure they get their share of the funds available," says Peter Maddox, director of WRAP UK.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow adds: "I know coronavirus has placed extra pressures on the textiles sector, so I'm very pleased that this fund is helping more organisations to explore innovative solutions for the industry.

"Fast fashion is having a real impact on our environment. With more than 300,000 tonnes of clothing being sent to landfill or incineration every year, it's important that we find ways to make the clothing sector more sustainable and environmentally-friendly."

Interested applicants can find more information and download an application here.