The challenge was launched by the John Lewis Partnership in November of last year to find scalable circular projects with an alternative approach to the outdated linear ‘make-use-throw-away’ model.  The fund was raised from sales of GBP0.10 plastic bags.

Expandable and recyclable children’s shoes and a new CO2 technology to separate dyes from polyester to enable recycling are among the four projects that have been awarded a share of the Circular Future Fund.

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The four winners will be supported by environmental charity Hubbub over the next year to develop and achieve their ambitions.

Can the John Lewis Partnership GBP1m Circular Future Fund winners impact the apparel and footwear sector?

Sustainable Footwear, Pip & Henry: Pip & Henry is exploring two solutions to radically disrupt the industry; 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, University of Leeds: 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 polyester.

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

Saskia Restorick, director of Hubbub, adds: “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.”

The other two winners of the Fund were Lend and Mend Space by Scottish Library and Information (SLIC), and Period Product Service by DAME.