12 July 2018 by Joshua Doherty

John Lewis Group looks to start-ups to reduce plastic

The John Lewis Partnership has announced that the topic for its “start-up innovation” programme this year will be to reduce plastic use in both John Lewis and Waitrose.

The John Lewis Group, which includes Waitrose, are encouraging start-up companies to come forward for the scheme (Picture: Shutterstock)

Called JLAB, the innovation scheme is run by the John Lewis Partnership and encourages start-up companies to apply for advice and product validation from retail experts.

The winning business model is then chosen and implemented in store.

After announcing the three finalists for its inaugural event in the first half of this year, when the topic was healthy eating, JLAB is now encouraging submissions from start-ups, which can “significantly reduce” the impact of plastic use in both John Lewis and Waitrose.

This would tie in with commitments made by the John Lewis Partnerships when it signed up to the UK Plastics Pact earlier this year, which outline that 100% of plastic packaging should be recyclable and 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted.


The group said that the campaign is open to any business, which has a proposition that can help significantly reduce its plastic use.

However, any applicant must have a “deep knowledge and expertise of the challenges around plastic sustainability,” a “willingness to openly share information” on a new proposition and “an appreciation of the John Lewis Partnership company values.”

‘Depend on plastics’

In a statement, the John Lewis Partnership said that while it does “depend on plastics” for a range of things, the group is always looking for ways to reduce its use.

“Across our value chain, we currently depend on plastics to make products, to increase shelf life and protect products as they are moved from source to customer,” the statement read.

It added:  “However, in our aim to contribute to a more sustainable future for retail, we need to operate with greater efficiency – doing more with fewer natural resources.

“We are always looking at ways to eliminate or use alternatives to plastics where the environmental benefit is clear. This includes using recycled plastic and by-products / waste material in our products, packaging and operations.”

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