John Lewis Collection of Customers’ White Goods Packaging

  • Retail group the John Lewis Partnership show their commitment to recycling with their expanded polystyrene (EPS) take-back recycling scheme.
  • From June 2017 to May 2018, 450 tonnes of good quality EPS waste was sent from John Lewis to Whitkirk Waste Solutions Limited, the innovative waste solutions company.
  • The material is briquetted by Waste Care the company that collects and recycles the Waste Electronic Equipment on behalf of John Lewis.
  • Whitkirk Waste Solutions export the material to European outlets. Additionally, Whitkirk Waste Solutions export Fish boxes, but they are of lower value as they have an odour.
John Lewis & Waitrose use EPS packaging


John Lewis’ delivery drivers take EPS packaging back from the householder to their depot when they deliver the new product, whilst also taking away the old product at a cost. Waste Care, the recycling and waste management group servicing John Lewis, then collect the EPS from the John Lewis depots when picking up old White Goods for recycling. The EPS is transported in old mattress bags and used to fill the voids in the vehicles transporting the old White Goods to Waste Care. Waste Care then briquettes the EPS at their depot. The typical full load for briquetted material is about 6 to 12 tonnes a load. A good briquetting machine can condense the EPS so that up to 20 tonnes of material can be transported in one load.

The briquetted material is then sent to Whitkirk Waste Solutions Limited. The material that they receive from John Lewis is clean as Waste Care remove as many paper labels as possible before they briquette the material. Paper, adhesives, sealant and glues are contaminants in the recycling process.

Whitkirk Waste Solutions export the condensed EPS to European outlets in Germany, Netherlands and Spain. These outlets have been chosen based on the price paid for the material as well as the fact that the material goes back into a high value product.

Contribution to a circular economy

This is a leading example of a successful industry collection and recycling schemes in which the supply chain works together. John Lewis’ commitment to sustainability is shown by the collection of EPS which is then delivered to Whitkirk Waste Care. The material is mostly sent to the German outlet, where it is re-extruded into EPS polymetric beads, which are then used in the production of new packaging material. This is an excellent demonstration of the circular economy in practice.


  • John Lewis
  • EPS industry
  • Waste Care
  • Whitkirk Waste Care Limited
“We are really excited about the circular economy agenda because of the innovation it drives. However, there isn't a one-stop solution for being ‘circular’, so we continually need to test, learn and listen, which is why every project is important, no matter how big or small. This project is a great example of how our supply chain can collaborate and push us further in the right direction.” Martyn White Senior Sustainability Manager, John Lewis