The move is designed to reduce the environmental impact of packaging from the retailer’s bed linen ranges and some schoolwear and it plans to extend this to its ready-made curtain ranges next year.
According to the firm, it retails approximately three million polyethylene (PE) bags per annum for these product ranges, weighing 42330 kg, so this move will be a significant step in helping to reduce the environmental impact until recycling facilities for polyethylene become more widely available.
Mark Gallen, packaging design and production manager at John Lewis, said: “We are pleased to build on our strategy for a sustainable and responsible business – our new bags are designed to make it easier for our customers to dispose of polythene bags in a more environmentally sustainable way, helping to reduce our overall impact as a business.
“We continue to make progress with our work to reduce the weight and environmental impact of our product packaging and this extends to our distribution centres where machinery is helping us to reduce the amount of packaging we use.”
The company stresses that the new packaging is not designed to replace recycling but, where recycling facilities are not present, the use of an additive in the manufacturing process will allow much faster aerobic or anaerobic decomposition on landfill sites or within household composting.
According to the firm, the additive used within the polyethylene encourage naturally occurring micro-organisms in the soil to cause material biodegradation without leaving any harmful by-products.
It added: “The remaining by-products from the process are water, biogas, and humus, all of which are necessary components for good soil. The biodegradable bag will decompose within five to 15 years, which is a vastly significant improvement on estimates of hundreds of years for conventional plastic bags to biodegrade in landfill sites.”