John Lewis Partnership has established a £1 million fund in the hope of supporting projects that could speed the shift to a circular economy.
In partnership with environmental charity Hubbub, the Circular Future Fund seeks to support a variety of projects which “rethink waste”.
“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,” John Lewis Partnership director of ethics and sustainability Marija Rompani says.
“We live in a world of finite materials and we need to start protecting them before it’s too late,” she adds. “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.”
There are three categories for project entries: textiles, household products, technology and services, and food.
Organisers outline that food-related projects may cover waste reduction in the food supply chain or smart food waste solutions.
Textiles could include material innovation, reuse platforms or production processes that reduce water and energy consumption.
In the domestic category, projects might be based around consumption awareness, behaviour change or zero emissions delivery.
The fund has been created from sales of 10p plastic bags at Waitrose and John Lewis.
Grants between £150,000-£300,000 will be offered. Applications must be submitted by 9 January 2022, and funding will start in May 2022 and last a year.
Entries will be reviewed by a panel comprising representatives from the circular economy, innovation sector as well as senior John Lewis staff.
Applicants will have to show how the project offers a “truly circular solution” and outline the long-term applicants of potential projects. Other criteria include innovation and tangible impact.
The fund is now open to charities, academic bodies, community interest companies, social enterprises or a registered company less than five years old.
Successful applicants will also be encouraged to share their findings in an attempt to increase impact, according to organisers (though this does not apply to intellectual property or patents).
Waste has become one of the most significant issues for designers over the past few years. It was the centerpiece of the Design Museum’s latest exhibition while at this month’s COP26, Sophie Thomas declared it a “design flaw”.
You can find out more information on the Circular Future Fund website.
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