John Lewis Partnership selects four startups to reduce plastic waste

The John Lewis Partnership has selected four British startups which specialise in helping to reduce plastic waste, as part of the Waitrose-owner’s ‘always on’ retail tech initiative – JLAB.

From a list of over 100 startup entries, JLAB managed to shortlist just four UK startups that submitted ideas designed to help both John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners reduce the impact of plastic waste.

© JLAB
© JLAB

The selected startups include CupClub, which launched in 2015 with a returnable packaging service to help retailers reduce single-use plastic packaging using trackable products and RFID technology, which will be trialled in London.

“If you look at CupClub, they’re utilising our RFID in their proposition, so although it’s not a new technology it’s actually utilising technology in a different way and for us, that’s really exciting,” John Vary, futurologist at JLAB told Techworld.

“In this day and age, technology can do so much for us. I think what we’re seeing here is, this is not technology coming to the forefront but these are real problems being solved from human-driven design or human-driven proposition development.”

The other startups include Cuantec, which uses natural waste materials to obtain a natural biopolymer that can then be turned into antimicrobial food packaging, RePack, a reusable and returnable ecommerce mail packaging service and Replenish, creator of reusable and refillable bottles for liquid concentrates.

In the five years since JLAB’s launch, this is the first time that an environmental issue like plastic waste had been a focus.

“In previous years and previous themes, JLAB has always been about solving real problems and real problems for the business,” Vary. “Now, this one was not just a problem for the business but a problem for the whole planet.”

Read next: JLAB launches year-long ‘always on’ retail tech initiative for startups

Together with the work that the John Lewis Partnership is currently doing to tackle plastic waste, it hopes to make own-label packaging widely recycled, reusable or home compostable by 2025.

Alongside this, Waitrose & Partners, which was the first UK supermarket to sell paper-stem cotton buds, hopes to remove black plastic packaging from meat and poultry and replace loose plastic bags with a home compostable alternative by spring 2019.

As one of the largest innovation programmes in the UK, the JLAB plastic waste pitch day follows a pitch day focused on health and wellbeing in June 2018.

“For us, it was really interesting to understand how digital and new processes could actually help eliminate waste,” Vary said. “From the different mediums of the startups, not one of the startups or established businesses was the same.

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Uber’s most notable news and announcements

The taxi-hailing app is considered both brilliant and controversial, depending on who you ask. Here we’ve documented the company’s journey to a $70 billion valuation.

Disclaimer: it’s been a bit of a bumpy one…

©Uber
©Uber

Uber launches new safety features for UK passengers and drivers 

17th October 2018

Uber has announced a new Safety Toolkit for both riders and drivers in the UK as part of the company’s efforts to build trust with customers. 

Features include an emergency button thats connect directly to private emergency services and security response through a third party private security supplier, a list of trusted contacts that can get the rider’s information in a single tap, a safety centre containing information of safety tools in the app, and speed alerts that reminds drivers to maintain a safe speed within the posted speed limits.

The new features are already used in the United States and will now be rolled out in phases across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Uber pays $148 million over data breach cover up

27th September 2018

Uber has yet again found itself at the centre of a storm of allegations of foul play, as it comes to light that the firm suffered a staggering data breach involving the information of 57 million customers and drivers in 2016, yet failed to disclose information about the event. Instead the company quietly paid the hackers in question a paltry $100,000 (come on lads, you do know they’re valued at $50 billion?) to wipe the information gleaned from the company’s cloud servers. Afterwards, they sought to hide the mess from regulators. 

They are now paying a far heftier $148m (£113m) to settle charges brought by the US government and 50 states over the cover-up. 

The company revealed some information about the attack in November 2017, with Uber’s boss Dara Khosrowshahi, saying weakly: “None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it.”

Legal action brought by individual customers, drivers and cities continue. Going forward, the company will have to submit reports on all security incidents to regulators. They have also pledged to change how they operate, although the flagrant disregard for the law and pointed lack of respect towards their customers and workers will again underline for many the firm’s toxic reputation.  

Toyota invests $500 million into Uber for autonomous vehicles

28 August 2018

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