John Lewis looks to close loop by keeping waste in UK

John Lewis Partnership is looking to take greater accountability for its waste arisings by focusing on end destination and keeping secondary materials in the UK wherever possible.

In an exclusive interview with edie, the company’s recycling & waste operations manager Mike Walters said applying such strict waste flow controls has led to a significant consolidation of its contractor base – from 30 to five.

“To have a clear waste strategy we need to have control over what happens to it,” he said. “The general view out there seems to be once you pass it on, it’s no longer your waste. I can’t buy into that.”

This also means that while the business aspires to zero waste, its current diversion target stands at 95% by the end of 2013, with 100% diversion likely not to be achieved until 2020.

However keeping materials in the UK is already bearing fruit in terms of closed loop opportunities for John Lewis Partnership (JLP).

Waste wood from its pallets and used bedding materials will be used to power a new Waitrose energy centre next year, and opportunities to utilise the energy output from food waste (via anaerobic digestion) and incorporating extruded waste plastics into new building materials for future construction projects are being explored.

During 2011-12, JLP produced 67,164 tonnes of operational waste across its business, 66% of which was recycled while 23% was sent for energy recovery. Landfilled waste now stands at 11%, a 40% reduction since 2008-9.

All food waste from Waitrose stores (excluding the Channel Islands) is now being sent through anaerobic digestion (AD) or, where there is no local AD solution, in-vessel composting.

That said, the retailer has recently signed a deal with food redistribution charity Fareshare to ensure that all edible food is donated wherever possible.

“The core aim has to be consuming food, it’s grown for consumption, we should be sure at every opportunity that its primary purpose is met,” said Walters.

“Would I ever foresee commercial considerations overtaking that? No. Having it eaten, whether by a human or animal, would always be our focus.”

The full interview with Mike Walters on how John Lewis Partnership is dealing with its waste can be read here

Maxine Perella

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