The owner of John Lewis and Waitrose will launch a £ 1million fund on Monday that will funnel cash into projects that could end the ‘throwaway’ culture of Main Street.
The John Lewis partnership invites academics, charities and start-ups who have ideas that can reduce the environmental impact of the food, clothing and gadgets we buy, to apply for a share of the money. The fund aims to identify “innovators” who challenge the obsolete “make… use… throw away” model.
Marija Rompani, the group’s ethics and sustainability director, said tackling the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution required “a different kind of thinking”.
“We live in a world of finished materials and we need to start protecting them before it’s too late,” she said. “This is why we are particularly looking for regenerative projects capable of eliminating waste or pollution from the design stage.
The Circular Future Fund focuses on food, textiles and household products. Winning ideas could be the answer to food waste in the supply chain or in consumers’ homes, or, with the fashion industry a big polluter, a more sustainable production method or material.
John Lewis, who has raised £ 1million through the sale of 10p plastic bags in stores, said he hoped to unearth ‘scalable’ ideas that could be shared and, in so doing, accelerate the transition to a more circular economy.
Large-scale retailers have already started to adapt their traditional models. Ikea, the UK’s largest furniture retailer, now has a repurchase program for unwanted items for resale as part of its efforts to switch to a circular model. Marks & Spencer disclosed last week that a small selection of her clothes could now be rented from the Hirestreet rental site.
Applications for the John Lewis Fund, which will be divided into grants of £ 150,000 to £ 300,000, will close on January 9, 2022. Applications are invited from universities, charities, social enterprises and businesses under five. years. An independent panel will review them in March and the grants awarded the following month.