The John Lewis Partnership and environmental charity Hubbub have unveiled the winners of its £1m Circular Future Fund, created to encourage innovative ways of ending waste and extending the lifecycle of products.
The four winners were Sustainable Footwear, Polyester Infinity, Period Product Service, and Lend and Mend Spaces.
The John Lewis Partnership say the million-pound fund, raised by the sale of 10p plastic bags, was launched in November 2021 to find scalable projects with an alternative approach to the outdated linear ‘make…use…throw-away’ model.
The winners were chosen by an independent panel of industry experts, including senior representatives from John Lewis & Partners and with support from Hubbub. 245 projects applied for the fund, with eight selected to pitch to the panel and a final four organisations were awarded grants. The John Lewis Partnership says the four winners will be supported by Hubbub over the next year to develop and achieve their ambitions.
Director of Ethics and Sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership, Marija Rompani, said: “Our throw-away culture and the waste it generates are unquestionably among the biggest challenges we will face in our lifetime and tackling them will require a different kind of thinking.
“All these inspirational projects have the potential to create real impact and will provide valuable learnings in promoting the urgent need to adopt a more circular way of living. With the funding awarded for the year ahead, we want to help these amazing ideas to thrive for the long-term benefit of us all.”
The four pioneering projects have proved their potential to invent ways to ‘design out’ waste and extend the lifecycle of products, John Lewis says.
Sustainable Footwear is creating designs for expandable shoes that grow with the child, minimising the need to replace them as regularly, as well as investigating design options that will allow for shoes to be more easily recycled into their separate materials to reduce landfill waste.
Polyester Infinity is a company working to remove the barrier to recycling polyester fabric by researching technology to separate dyes from the fabric.
Period Product aims to launch a campaign and new digital platform which educates and supports users when they switch to the circular period product, the menstrual cup. Interested people with periods will receive a starter kit of various shapes and sizes to test while only paying for what they keep, all supported by a digital assistant.
Lend and Mend Spaces is a pilot of up to 10 attractive circular economy community spaces within libraries, with workshops, lending facilities and repair hubs, created by Scottish Library and Information (SLIC).
Director of Hubbub, Saskia Restorick, said: “It is vital to rethink waste at this critical time for the environment, which means looking at new ways to value the goods we produce, buy and use.
“The quality and quantity of entries for the fund have shown us the wealth of ideas out there and given us real hope that things can be done differently. The four winners have the potential to deliver a positive and innovative impact on a national and even global scale and we look forward to supporting them to bring their visions to life.”