John Lewis Partnership unveils ‘plan for nature’ including landmark net-zero farm pilot project
John Lewis Partnership has published sweeping new plans to protect and restore nature, including piloting a net-zero farm by 2024 and applying those changes across supplier farms by 2035.
The business, which owns and operates Waitrose and John Lewis, has launched a new ‘Plan for Nature’ detailing measures to enhance nature and reduce waste across its supply chains and beyond.
Detailed in the plan is a new pledge to eliminate deforestation in the supply chains of all key commodities for own-brand products. This pledge builds on an existing ambition to ensure that all key raw materials in own-brand products are from recycled or sustainable sources by 2025. That covers timber, cotton, soya, palm oil, cocoa and cashmere. The same pledge is also in place, with a 2028 deadline, for polyester, leather and man-made cellulosic fibres such as modal and lyocell.
Also reiterated in the plan is the business’s commitment to ensuring that at least half of its fresh foods come from areas that are managing water use responsibly by 2030. This now supported by a commitment to pilot three sustainable water management programmes in key sourcing regions.
Additionally, John Lewis Partnership stated its intent to bring agricultural process emissions from its Leckford farm in Hampshire to net-zero by 2024. The farm produces food for the Leckford estate’s shop and catering outlets and for the retailer’s stores. It has already begun implementing regenerative farming practices. To meet net-zero, the Partnership has stated, further regeneration and restoration will need to happen.
Learnings from the farm will be rolled out across the supply chain. John Lewis Partnership has pledged that all of its UK supplier farms will be operating at net-zero emissions by 2035. Competitor Morrisons notably pledged last year to only use farms certified as net-zero when sourcing products and ingredients from British suppliers by 2030.
John Lewis Partnerships’ director of ethics and sustainability Marija Rompani said it is “unacceptable” that the UK is ranked in the bottom 10% of countries globally for nature abundance and that “delaying action is simply not an option”.
Partnerships for change
Revealed in the plan is a new partnership between John Lewis Partnership and WWF. The partnership will see the retail giant investing in the NGOs nature protection and regeneration projects in the UK and India, with an initial backing of £2m.
In the UK, the funding will support WWF’s work in Norfolk. John Lewis Partnership has stated that India and Norfolk are “key” sourcing regions for its own-brand products.
Waitrose was one of five UK supermarkets to join a new ‘Retailers Commitment to Nature’ from WWF at COP26 last year. Along with Tesco, Sainsbury’s, the Co-op and M&S, it committed to halving the nature and climate impact of food systems this decade.
Another partnership detailed in John Lewis Partnership’s Plan is with the National Oceanography Centre. The business will support research into the degradation of plastic, assessing how long the process takes, the toxins released and the impact on ecosystems and animal health.
The plan is underpinned by an ambition of John Lewis Partnership becoming the first British business to set verified, science-based targets for nature as soon as the framework becomes available. The Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) launched new guidance for companies looking to account for land-based emissions removals last month. Science-based targets for nature have been in development at the Science Based Targets Network since May 2021.
Rompani added: “It’s no exaggeration. The vital resources provided to us by nature are under serious threat. We’re not only committed to doing more, we’re prepared to do everything we can to protect and restore our planet.”