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John Lewis launches £1m sustainable innovation fund

The John Lewis Partnership has launched The Circular Future Fund The John Lewis Partnership has launched a £1m fund to be administered by environmental charity Hubbub… View Article

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John Lewis launches £1m sustainable innovation fund

The John Lewis Partnership has launched The Circular Future Fund

The John Lewis Partnership has launched a £1m fund to be administered by environmental charity Hubbub that will provide grants of up to £300,000 for innovative projects that can help deliver a circular economy.

The Circular Future Fund is open to charities, start-ups, academic bodies, social enterprises, and Community Interest Companies working on schemes that rethink waste streams, shift consumer mindsets, or develop new business models that can enable circular resource flows.

The John Lewis Partnership, the parent company of John Lewis and Waitrose & Partners, said it was looking to support projects with a “measurable impact” and a “clear legacy”, with grants set to be administered from May.

The new fund will provide grants of between £150,000 and £300,000 to innovative projects in the textiles, food, household products, technology, and services sectors that challenge the “outdated” ‘take, make, dispose’ business model, it said.

The company said the scheme was part of its broader programme of waste and circularity commitments, which include a plan for all John Lewis product categories to have a ‘buy back’ or ‘take back’ solution by 2025, the creation of rental and resell options, and a target to halve its operational and customer food waste by 2030.

Applications to the Circular Future Fund can be submitted ahead of a 9 January 2022 deadline. They will be assessed by an expert independent grant panel, which will consist of circular economy experts, grant making and innovation authorities, and senior representatives from the John Lewis Partnership.

“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,” said Marija Rompani, director of ethics and sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership.

“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.”

The move comes as major high street retailers and fashion brands are increasingly embracing more circular ways of doing business to meet their environmental goals and appeal to an increasingly sustainability conscious clientele.

The new grant fund is launched just a few years after Waitrose & Partners worked with Hubbub to distribute £1m in funding to a range of innovations designed to slash plastic pollution.

Out of a pool of 156 applications, five winning organisations were awarded grant funding for projects from the Plan Plastic Fund, from a scheme to install water refill stations at youth hostels, technology that prevented the loss of fishing gear at sea, to the world’s first community-led bio recycling plant. Funds were collected through the plastic bag carrier levy.

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