John Lewis launches blueprint to encourage customers to reduce, reuse and return packaging

John Lewis

John Lewis has unveiled an initiative at its Oxford stores aimed at saving thousands of tonnes of packaging going to landfill. If successful, the scheme could provide a blueprint for all of its other stores.

In a first for the store John Lewis will cease the sale of 5p plastic bags and encourage customers to bring their own or buy a reusable one. It will also be the first store in the UK to trial a reusable “Click and Collect” bag made from 100% recycled materials.

One in four orders will be delivered to the store in these reuseable bags, meaning customers will be handed their orders without any additional packaging. Store staff will offer to keep and recycle the cardboard and single use plastic bags used to transport other “Click and Collect” orders.

Also bubble wrap will be replaced by a new recyclable alternative and the retailer will also be encouraging customers to return unwanted hangers for recycling.

To incentivise customers to take part, John Lewis will offer “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 which 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 move chimes with the findings of a recent study of online fashion consumers, across the UK, US, France and Germany, carried out by TheIndustry.fashion in partnership with Avery Dennison in which 54% of consumers overall said they were more likely to buy from a brand or retailer which offered a sustainable packaging service. French consumers were most in favour with 71% saying they were more likely to use a brand for this reason and 51% of British consumers (see graphic below).

Avery Dennison
Source: Conscious E-commerce: Driving consumer loyalty through sustainable delivery. October 2019. 

The report also found that consumers were almost as concerned about the sustainable credentials of the packaging used to transport their orders as they were about the sustainable credentials of the clothing they bought (63% vs 68%).

The full report can be downloaded here.