John Lewis launches £1m fund to tackle 'throwaway culture'

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John Lewis launches £1m fund to tackle 'throwaway culture'
The £1m fund was raised from the sale of 10p plastic bags in stores and will provide grants between £150,000 and £300,000. Photo: Claire Doherty/Sipa USA

The John Lewis Partnership launched a new £1m ($1.3m) on Monday, which will award cash to projects that are working on ending the “throwaway” culture of the UK high street.

The Circular Future Fund will be handed out for one year to projects that "demonstrate trailblazing, scalable innovations that can accelerate the transition towards a more circular economy," the John Lewis Partnership said.

The £1m fund was raised from the sale of 10p plastic bags in stores and will provide grants between £150,000 and £300,000.

The John Lewis and Waitrose owner is calling on innovators who are challenging the "make…use…throw away" mindset to apply for the grants. The fund is looking for innovative projects across organisations including academia, charities, social enterprises, start-ups and businesses less than five years old.

The fund is aimed at projects working in the areas of food, textiles and household products.

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Within the food sector, projects could be helping to reduce food waste or change consumption awareness and behaviour. 

Textiles projects could be tackling water and energy efficiency, looking at material innovation and chemical reduction or be championing reuse in the highly polluting fashion industry.

Organisations working in household products, technology and services could be working on zero emissions delivery, innovation in home-goods, disruptive reuse and recycling platforms or technology solutions and products.

Infographic: John Lewis Partnership
Infographic: John Lewis Partnership

Marija Rompani, director of ethics and sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership said: "Climate change, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution are unquestionably among the biggest challenges we will face in our lifetime and tackling them will require a different kind of thinking. 

"By creating this fund, we’re hoping to unearth some of the world’s leading innovators, who have built their business models, products and services around the concept of circularity. 

"We live in a world of finite materials and we need to start protecting them before it’s too late.This is why we’re particularly looking for projects that are regenerative and can eliminate waste or pollution from the design stage and ultimately protect nature."

Applications for the Circular Future Fund will close on 9 January 2022. An independent panel will review them in March with the grants awarded the following month.

John Lewis is partnering with environmental charity Hubbub to support the chosen projects and measure the impact of the grants.

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In 2019, Waitrose launched Plan Plastic in collaboration with Hubbub, a £1m grant fund raised from sales of single use plastic bags. The fund supported five organisations actively engaged in projects to reduce plastic waste. 

The winning projects varied from research, developing new technologies to community engagement, public education and awareness, and simple infrastructure, creating instant impact.

Saskia Restorick, director at Hubbub said: "If we want to tackle climate change and reduce our environmental impact, we have to place more value on the goods we produce, buy and use. There are some exciting innovations happening right now and it’s fantastic that the John Lewis Partnership is creating this fund to back some of these."

Watch: Top tips for helping the environment on a tight budget

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