John Lewis & Partners trials ‘Reduce, reuse and return’ packaging scheme

John Lewis & Partners has launched a major pilot at its Oxford store to encourage a ‘reduce, reuse and return’ culture among customers, which could provide a blueprint for other shops.

The pilot will test eight ways in which the retailer and its customers can reduce their impact on the planet, potentially saving thousands of tonnes of plastic and packaging from going to landfill.   

In a first for a department store, the shop has removed 5p plastic carrier bags to reduce the amount of plastic it produces. The retailer will encourage customers to bring a bag, or buy a reusable one instead. Over a year it is estimated that this alone could save 5,000 tonnes of plastic.

The Oxford store will also become the first in the UK to trial a reusable ‘Click and Collect’ bag made from 100 per cent recycled materials. One in four orders will be delivered to the shop in these reusable bags, meaning customers will be handed their orders without any additional packaging. Partners will offer to keep and recycle the cardboard and single-use plastic bags used to transport other ‘Click and Collect’ orders.

In place of bubble wrap the retailer will trial new recyclable wrapping for china and glass products bought in the shop. It will also be encouraging customers to bring back any hangers they no longer need, so they can be reused or recycled.

As well as reducing the amount of packaging it gives out, John Lewis Oxford will reward ‘my John Lewis’ customers who bring back empty beauty product packaging and pre-loved clothing with gift vouchers. The beauty product recycling scheme named ‘BeautyCycle’ was tested earlier this year and this week is being permanently introduced to 36 John Lewis shops that have a Beauty Department. 

Customers booking home deliveries with a shop Partner will be offered the chance to help reduce carbon emissions and traffic by selecting an ‘Eco-delivery’ slot when a van would be near their home.

Stephen Cawley, Partner and Head of Sustainability at John Lewis, said: “Our customers have told us they want us to help them reduce their impact on the planet and that reducing and recycling packaging is key for them.  

“Our message that we want customers to take away just the product that they love and reduce and reuse the packaging that they don’t will be clearly communicated throughout the shop. 

“We will listen to customer feedback on this blueprint before deciding what we should introduce to other shops.”

The new trials are a continuation of John Lewis & Partners’ commitment to sustainability, the retailer said. It already offers mattress recycling and Sofa Takeback services. Last year, the retailer worked with third parties to collect and reuse over 27,000 used electrical products, and recycle approximately 2,000 used sofas and 55,000 mattresses.  

John Lewis & Partners has committed to making all of it own brand product packaging either easily recyclable or reusable by 2023.