The Circular Future Fund will award monies to “design out” waste or renew and extend product life cycles.

The retailer is looking for innovators with a pioneering new approach to challenge the outdated ‘make, use, throw away’ model; Whether it’s rethinking waste with new products or materials, finding creative ways to shift consumer mindsets or developing new business models and services.

The fund was raised from sales of GBP0.10 plastic bags and will provide grants between GBP150,000-GBP300,000.

Applications for The Circular Future Fund, for which John Lewis has partnered with environmental charity Hubbub to support the chosen projects and measure the impact of the grants, will open today (22 November), closing on 9 January  2022 .

Ideas are welcomed from a range of organisations including academia, charities, social enterprises, start-ups, and businesses less than five years old, across the following product areas:

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  • Textiles: Solution examples: production factors such as water and energy efficiency, material innovation, disruptive reuse platforms, chemical reduction/ alternatives
  • Food: Solution examples: full supply chain food waste reduction, smart food waste solutions or changes in consumption awareness and behaviour change.
  • Household products, technology and services: Solution examples: zero emissions delivery, innovation in home-goods, disruptive reuse/ recycling platforms, consumption awareness and behaviour change, technology solutions and products.

An independent panel of experts consisting of representatives from the circular economy, grant-giving and innovation as well as a senior representative from John Lewis & Partners will meet in March 2022 to review submissions and the grantees will be announced in April 2022.

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

Saskia Restorick, director at Hubbub, adds: “If we want to tackle climate change and reduce our environmental impact, we have to place more value on the goods we produce, buy and use. There are some exciting innovations happening right now and it’s fantastic that the John Lewis Partnership is creating this fund to back some of these. We are looking forward to working with the winning applicants to help make sure their projects are a success.”

Organisations can apply via The Circular Future Fund website.

Earlier this month, John Lewis signed a new GBP420m (US$573.6m) five-year revolving credit facility linked to environmental targets.