CIRCULAR economies will help our drive to meet net-zero carbon targets by 2045, but a forthcoming conference will hear how sustainable fashion and the work of one of Scotland’s leading innovation centres can also play a leading role.

The Glasgow-based Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) conference next month will feature a session on Fashion and the Circular Economy, with a message that we should trust in our science and technology skills.

Lynn Wilson, a consultant and designer who specialises in circular economy business models and also advises at Edinburgh University, will chair that session.

She said the industry itself understood it had to change for the future. “The fashion industry is realising that the current consumption is unsustainable,” she stated.

“It is being helped by the work of start-ups in the industrial biotechnology sector, who are using plant-based sources to produce or process sustainable solutions for textiles, dyes and finishing chemicals for clothes and finding ways to recycle used garments and develop industrial closed loops for garment processes. This is the continuous cycle the fashion industry needs to try and achieve.”

Wilson cited the example of Spinnova, which produces a recyclable fibre made from wood pulp without using harmful chemicals or microplastics, and said it was critical that we educate fashion, textiles and design students in driving change.

Among those sharing their experience at the conference will be Dr Kate Goldsworthy from the University of Arts, London and co-director of the Centre for Circular Design, and Dr Richard Blackburn from Leeds University, who works on using science to create sustainable cosmetic products.

She will tell of her work advising students from the University of Edinburgh’s MSc in Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology, who recently picked up a silver award in the prestigious iGEM competition in Boston in November for a project on the “Bioremediation of Azo dyes and synthetic silk production”.

Wilson added: “It’s true we can’t produce enough natural raw materials to clothe the planet. But we can take note of the work of IBioIC and support the innovators and scientists who are working to create a moon shot for the fashion industry.”