John Lewis to close the loop on plastics waste in retail first
John Lewis Partnership is set to develop a pioneering closed loop business model for its plastics waste, in a move believed to be a first for any UK retailer.
The company has entered into an agreement with Liverpool-based recycler Centriforce Products to guarantee that thousands of tonnes of plastics waste from Waitrose and John Lewis shops are recycled into useable products.
The deal is part of the retailer’s strategy to streamline its waste contractors and keep complete control and responsibility for its waste flows to ensure as much as material possible is kept in the UK.
John Lewis Partnership is also exploring opportunities to reuse Centriforce products such as plastic planks and sheeting in its new store construction programme to achieve a true closed loop process in its plastics waste stream.
Under the arrangement, Centriforce will collect more than 3,000 tonnes of plastics waste annually from John Lewis and Waitrose distribution centres across the UK and bring the waste to its Liverpool manufacturing centre.
John Lewis Partnership recycling & waste operations manager Mike Walters said the move was part of a wider corporate strategy to create transparency in its waste management operations.
“We are committed to keeping ownership of our waste all the way to its final destination, rather than selling it to the highest bidder, or losing control over what happens to it,” he said.
Talking to edie last year, Walters said applying such strict waste flow controls has led to a significant consolidation of its contractor base – from 30 to five.
In addition, all the waste plastics – from warehouse packaging and pallet films to used Waitrose ‘Bags for Life’- are transported to central distribution centres by backhauling of the retailer’s delivery vehicles.
“We have had a policy of backhauling our waste through the space available in empty vehicles for a number of years. It provides the perfect starting point for recycling,” added Mike.
Centriforce has been working with John Lewis Partnership to recycle a proportion of its waste for more than five years. However, under the new deal, it will reprocess all of the retailer’s soft plastics.
The contract follows Centriforce’s recent investment in its own mixed plastics sorting line.
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