Self-supply will allow John Lewis to take more control over its water usage and data © SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
Self-supply will allow John Lewis to take more control over its water usage and data © SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

John Lewis to supply its own water

John Lewis and Partners aims to become the first retailer to supply its own water to its stores in England. 

The retailer has applied for a self-supply water and sewerage licence with the Water Services Regulation Authority (OFWAT) which will enable it to pay wholesale prices and skip the margin set by water suppliers.

John Lewis said the move to self-supply would allow it to “drive a change in process, influencing its water strategy and targets, as well as offering it a customer voice in the market”.

It will also give John Lewis the opportunity to take more control over water usage and data, deal directly with wholesalers and improve its water strategy.

John Lewis is working with water management firm Waterscan to deliver water cost and consumption savings.

Managing director at Waterscan Neil Pendle said: “We are extremely confident that self-supply will influence [John Lewis’s] ability to meet its targets and give it an all-important customer voice in the water marketplace – a first for the retail sector. 

“We look forward to helping John Lewis set a new benchmark when it comes to water efficiency in retailing.”

Water efficiency is a major focus of John Lewis’s sustainability strategy ahead of 2028, in line with targets outlined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the UK’s 2050 emissions targets. 

The company has already achieved a reduction in carbon intensity by 70% and has set further targets around waste, packaging, recycling and reuse and emissions. 

Meanwhile, Levi’s is working with key suppliers, representing 80% of its total product volume, to set and achieve specific water use targets for factories.

The targets will be based on the wider context of water scarcity at a local level. Facilities based in more highly-stressed countries will have more stringent target levels than facilities in countries facing less water stress.

Levi’s launched its Water Less programme in 2011, which used technology and sustainable processes to cut water usage in the finishing process of denim by 96%. 

However the programme “made no distinctions based on geography”, and the new strategy will see Levi’s shift from a singular “one-size-fits-all” approach to a more responsive, contextual approach to water management, it said. 

The strengthened targets will help Levi’s meet its goal to reduce its cumulative water use for manufacturing by 50% in water-stressed areas by 2025.

Michael Kobori, VP of sustainability at Levi Strauss, said: “We believe this is the future for our company and our industry when it comes to managing water use and conserving water.

“Given the water context in many countries, we have to act quickly and wisely. We feel this strategy does both, while delivering benefits to numerous stakeholders in our business and in supply chain communities around the world.”

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