John Lewis announces ‘Circular Future Fund’ winners

The John Lewis Partnership, alongside environmental charity Hubbub, has announced the winners of its £1m Circular Future Fund, created to encourage innovative ways of ending waste and extending the lifecycle of products.

John Lewis FundFour projects have been recognised for their potential to ‘design out’ waste and extend the life cycle of various products – meeting the Fund's aim of contributing to a circular economy.

As well as the funds to develop each of the winner’s projects, the environmental charity Hubbub has revealed it will measure the impact that each of the grants make, supporting each project so that they achieve their goals.

The winners will all receive a share of the £1m Circular Future Fund, which was raised from sales of 10p bags. The challenge to win the funding was launched in November 2021, with the goal of finding ‘scalable’ projects with alternative approaches to the linear ‘make…use…throw-away’ model.

Included in the winning projects were sustainable footwear brand Pip and Henry. Taking into consideration that, on average, a young child replaces its shoes every four months, with 85 per cent of those shoes going to landfill, the brand is creating designs for expandable shoes that grow with the child. It is hoped that this will minimise the need for replacement.

‘Polyester Infinity’ by The University of Leeds will also receive a share of the fund. With polyester being the world’s most consumed textile fibre, yet recycled polyester only contributing to 15 per cent of the total production, The Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour is researching a solution to separate the dyes that make it difficult to recycle. It will employ CO2 technology to separate the dyes.

Amongst the winning projects was a new period product service by DAME.The company will launch a campaign and new digital platform to educate and support users to make the switch to a menstrual cup, as only five per cent of people with periods currently use it.

The final winners of the Circular Future Fund are ‘Lend and mend spaces’, proposed by the Scottish Library and Information (SLIC).  Inspired by the ‘People’s Workshops’ in Norway, SLIC want to create a pilot of up to 10 circular economy community spaces within libraries, with workshops, lending facilities and repair hubs.

The winners above were chosen by ‘The Grant Panel’ – consisting of eight industry experts, including senior representatives from John Lewis & Partners and with support from Hubbub.  Overall, 245 projects applied for the fund, with eight selected to pitch to the panel and a final four organisations awarded grants.

Marija Rompani, Director of Ethics and Sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership 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.”

Saskia Restorick, Director of Hubbub 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 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.”