Research and Resources

Explore sustainability-related research and resources here, including recently released reports, journal articles, online tools and databases. Use the left sidebar to filter resources by theme.

Valuing Our Clothes: the cost of UK fashion

By Robert Lyons on 18th July 2017

A new report by WRAP examines the environmental impact of the UK clothing industry. It highlights recent achievements in the sector, explores opportunities for businesses, and shares insights on consumer attitudes and behaviour toward clothing. However, it also notes that while the amount of clothing being sent to landfill has fallen by 14% from 350,000 tonnes in 2012 to 300,000 in 2016 around 25 per cent is still binned rather than recycled.

Europe aims to obtain 20 per cent of its growth from industrial processes by 2020 and at the same time has set itself incredibly ambitious environmental targets.

Happy Planet Index 2016

By Editor on 27th July 2016

For the fourth time, the New Economics Foundation has ranked countries all over the world based on how efficiently their residents are able to live long, happy lives using environmental resources.  The overall results challenge the conventional wisdom that the wealthiest economies are the most successful, highlighting success stories in Latin America and Asia Pacific – where residents are enjoying relatively high and equally distributed life expectancy and wellbeing, whilst leaving a smaller ecological footprint than other more advanced economies. 

Social innovations, which transform resource intensive routines and practices into low-resource ones, combined with socio-technically designed transition paths, which are created around sustainability and environmental criteria, are milestones for implementation and diffusion of SCP (Sustainable Consumption and Production). This paper analyses such processes based on eight key components in order to evaluate and explain transformation and transition towards a sustainable lifestyle. Actors on all levels of society are included in this approach, creating a whole framework.

New research from the Centre for Environmental Strategy, at the University of Surrey, examines how globalisation and fast fashion have changed the sustainability of the Western European Textiles and Clothing supply chain. Between 1995 and 2009 there were absolute reductions in supply chain carbon emissions, but social inequities remain high and need tackling. The authors suggest that increasing supply chain wages and passing prices through to consumers could reduce both emissions and social inequities.

A recent Imperial College London report, commissioned by environmental management firm Veolia, outlines the business case for adopting a circular economy. The report is the first to put a figure on the potential of a circular economy in the UK, highlighting that adopting a circular economy could contribute £29bn or 1.8% of current GDP to the UK economy by 2025. While the World Economic Forum has forecast that the circular economy will contribute $1tr a year globally by 2025, this is the first time a separate figure and breakdown has been provided for the UK.

With globalized trade, a significant share of the environmental impacts linked to a country’s consumption of goods and services takes place outside its borders. There is a growing interest among policy-makers in many countries in finding ways to reduce such external environmental impacts of consumption. But it is not always clear what policy instruments might offer the most efficient ways of doing so. This policy brief outlines steps that governments can take to identify policy instruments they can use to reduce their countries' extra-territorial environmental footprints.

In a recent publication in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Anna R. Davies and Ruth Doyle of the Trinity College Dublin’s Department of Geography reported on empirical findings from a practice-oriented participatory (POP) backcasting process focused on home heating, personal washing, and eating.

An Environmental Protection Agency funded project that examines issues of sustainable household consumption on an all-Ireland basis has recently launched high level findings emerging from its latest strand of research, the CONSENSUS HomeLabs. The HomeLabs project recruited ten households (five for washing and five for eating) to experiment with social and technical innovations designed to facilitate more sustainable washing and eating practices.

Report on the future of employment in the circular economy

By Bridget Elliott on 24th February 2015

This new report by WRAP and Green Alliance finds that growth in the circular economy, whether modest or transformational, can create a wide variety of employment opportunities which directly tackle challenges faced by the British labour market. For example, regional unemployment disparities may be reduced by a broad geographical spread of employment opportunities in circular economy activities, which will be of particular benefit in higher unemployment regions. Occupational mismatch may be reduced by new opportunities across all skill levels.