The Circular Future Fund awards circular ideas

Green winners: 4 circular ideas awarded share of John Lewis Partnership fund

The John Lewis Partnership has named the winners of its circular ideas initiative, with the retail group set to support four green-thinking concepts with funding and over the next year.

Expandable and recyclable children’s shoes, a game-changing period service, the use of new CO2 technology to separate dyes from polyester to enable recycling, and a ‘lend and mend’ scheme in Scotland are the four projects selected and given a share of the £1 million Circular Future Fund.

JLP is working with environmental organisation, Hubbub, which will measure the impact of the grants handed out to the circular ideas.

The million pound challenge was launched in November 2021 to find scalable projects with an alternative approach to the outdated linear ‘make, use, throw-away’ model, and overall 245 projects applied for the fund. JLP said the money to support the initiative was raised from sales of 10p plastic bags in its retail stores.

The winning circular ideas were selected by an independent panel of industry experts, including senior representatives from the partnership’s department store chain John Lewis.

The winning circular ideas:

‘Sustainable’ footwear

The idea is from Pip & Henry, which is exploring two solutions to disrupt the footwear industry. The company creates designs for expandable shoes that grow with the child, minimising the need to replace them as regularly as typical footwear. Pip & Henry is also investigating design options that will allow for shoes to be more easily recycled into their separate materials to reduce landfill waste.

Polyester infinity

The idea is from the University of Leeds. Identifying the barriers to recycling polyester fabric – due to it traditionally being difficult to remove the dyes from it – the Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour is working alongside the Wolfson CO2 Laboratory in the School of Chemistry to research a solution that uses new CO2 technology to separate dyes to enable easier recycling of this popular fabric.

Period product service

B Corp organisation Dame wants to make it easier and more desirable to use the menstrual cup, which is viewed as more circular than other sanitary products.  Dame’s idea is to launch a campaign and new digital platform which educates and supports users as they make the switch. 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

Scottish Library and Information (SLIC) wants to create a pilot of up to ten attractive circular economy community spaces within libraries, supported by workshops, lending facilities and repair hubs.

Marija Rompani, director of ethics & sustainability at JLP, said: “Our throwaway 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.”

Saskia Restorick, director of Hubbub, added “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 has 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.”

[Image credit: John Lewis Partnership/Hubbub]

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