The John Lewis Partnership launches The Circular Future Fund: The Million Pound Challenge

23 November 2021

Circular Future Fund: The Million Pound Challenge

The pot will fund innovative projects, businesses and services that have found inventive ways to “design out” waste or renew and extend product life cycles

This week, the John Lewis Partnership launches The Circular Future Fund, an initiative that will award a total of one million pounds, over one year, to projects that demonstrate trailblazing, scalable innovations that can accelerate the transition towards a more circular economy.

They are partnering once again with environmental charity Hubbub to support the chosen projects and measure the impact of the grants.

The partnership is looking for innovators with a pioneering new approach to challenge the outdated ‘make…use…throw away’ model.  Whether it’s rethinking waste with new products or materials, finding creative ways to shift consumer mindsets or developing new business models and services. The fund was raised from sales of 10p plastic bags and will provide grants between £150,000 and £300,000.

Applications for The Circular Future Fund will open on 22nd November, closing on 9th January 2022 and ideas are welcomed from a range of organisations including academia, charities, social enterprises, start-ups and businesses less than five years old, across the following product areas:

  •   Food – Solution examples: full supply chain food waste reduction, smart food waste solutions or changes in consumption awareness and behaviour change
  • Textiles – Solution examples: production factors such as water and energy efficiency, material innovation, disruptive reuse platforms, chemical reduction/ alternatives
  • Household products, technology and services – Solution examples: zero emissions delivery, innovation in home-goods, disruptive reuse/ recycling platforms, consumption awareness and behaviour change, technology solutions and products.

Organisations can apply via The Circular Future Fund website at

An independent panel of experts consisting of representatives from the circular economy, grant giving and innovation as well as a senior representative from John Lewis & Partners will meet in March 2022 to review submissions and the grantees will be announced in April 2022.

Marija Rompani, Director of Ethics and Sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership comments: “Climate change, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution are unquestionably among the biggest challenges we will face in our lifetime and tackling them will require a different kind of thinking.

“By creating this fund, 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. We live in a world of finite materials and we need to start protecting them before it’s too late. 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.”

 Saskia Restorick, Director at Hubbub said: “If we want to tackle climate change and reduce our environmental impact, we have to place more value on the goods we produce, buy and use. There are some exciting innovations happening right now and it’s fantastic that the John Lewis Partnership is creating this fund to back some of these. We are looking forward to working with the winning applicants to help make sure their projects are a success.”

In 2019 in collaboration with Hubbub, Waitrose launched Plan Plastic, a £1m grant fund generated from sales of single use plastic bags. From a pool of 150 applications, we supported five innovative organisations actively engaged in projects to reduce plastic waste.

The winning projects varied from research, developing new technologies to community engagement, public education and awareness, and simple infrastructure, creating instant impact.