The John Lewis Partnership ha announced that ,following a competitive pitch day for JLAB, its retail innovation programme, it has selected four businesses who can help reduce plastic waste by reusing and reducing food, liquid and postal packaging.
Over 100 new start-ups and more established businesses submitted ideas that could help John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners reduce the impact of plastic waste. Whittled down to a shortlist of 10 businesses, ideas on alternative packaging, chemical recycling, sustainable materials and plastic-free products were presented to a panel of eight judges, made up of experts from the sustainability and investment sector and senior leaders from across the John Lewis Partnership.
JLAB provides access to expert advice from the John Lewis Partnership, customer panels and data, a chance to launch trials and pilots and possible financial investment. Out of the four businesses selected, CupClub™, an innovative returnable packaging service for drinks that helps retailers reduce single-use plastic packaging by providing trackable products and utilising RFID technology, will now be trialled.
Options will be also explored with three other businesses, with further discussions to be had on how they can potentially work with the Partnership. These businesses are: Cuantec, which takes natural waste materials to obtain a natural biopolymer and is then turned into compostable, antimicrobial food packaging, RePack – a reusable and returnable e-commerce mail packaging service and Replenish which creates reusable and refillable bottles for liquid concentrates.
Benet Northcote, Director of Corporate Responsibility at the John Lewis Partnership and one of the pitch day judges, said: “It was fantastic to see so much energy from a range of businesses innovating to solve the global plastic problem. We’re passionate about creating a sustainable future for the retail sector and that means changing the way we all use and view plastic. The businesses we’ve selected are truly disruptive and will help towards our own ambitious targets.”
This is the first time since JLAB launched five years ago that plastic waste has been a focus and builds on the wider sustainability work the John Lewis Partnership is already committed to, with all own-label packaging to be widely recycled, reusable or home compostable by 2025 a key priority.
To date, Waitrose & Partners, which is a signatory of the UK Plastics Pact, has removed 65 per cent of black plastic packaging from fruit and vegetables. Removing black packaging from meat, poultry and fish will also follow suit by the end of the year along with replacing loose fruit and vegetable plastic bags with a home compostable alternative by spring 2019. Waitrose & Partners was the first supermarket to exclusively sell paper-stem cotton buds and has replaced plastic straws with paper versions in all its cafes and is on target to remove all disposable takeaway coffee cups from its shops this autumn, saving 52 million cups a year.
John Lewis & Partners has been working to reduce plastic hanger waste and has recently introduced new, durable carrier bags made from 70% recycled material. Click & collect bags also now contain a minimum of 50 per cent recycled content.
The JLAB plastic waste pitch day follows a successful pitch day held in June which focused on health and wellbeing and three companies were selected to join. JLAB is one of the largest innovation programmes in the UK and in 2018 it was expanded to run all year-round and open to both start-ups and more established businesses.