Nine Lend and Mend Hubs created in Scottish public libraries have played a significant role in the success of a new UK-wide circular economy project.

The John Lewis Partnership and environmental charity Hubbub, have published an impact report, detailing the progress of four trailblazing projects that were awarded funding as part of the Circular Future Fund, created to find pioneering circular economy ideas.

In 2022, four projects were each awarded grants of between £150,000 - £300,000, from 245 applications, to develop their innovative solutions that challenged the ‘make…use…throw-away’ culture of modern society. The £1 million fund was made possible by the sales of 10p plastic bags through the John Lewis Partnership.

Creating a Circular Economy

Helping menstrual cups go mainstream, redesigning children’s shoes to make them last longer, creating ‘lend and mend’ hubs in libraries and enabling polyester to be recycled again and again were the winning projects chosen by an independent Grant Fund panel of industry experts. Each winner was then supported by Hubbub to develop and achieve their ambitions.

The successful projects have each reported significant progress with proven results that leave a strong legacy for their respective industries. By sharing their learnings and challenges in the report, they hope to inspire others to follow in their footsteps towards creating a more circular economy.

Making a Difference

The SLIC project aimed to create a network of lend and mend hubs across Scotland to support communities to repair, reuse, rent and upcycle everyday items.

The difference made:

  • Nine hubs have been created, with early indications suggest hubs have the potential to reach around 2,000 people per year through sewing and mending classes alone.
  • All libraries are offering equipment, workshops, and tools free of charge to overcome cost barriers for the public, making everyday circular economy actions more accessible.
  • The hubs are fitted out with circularity in mind, using repurposed office furniture and upcycled peg boards that were part of Kenya’s display at COP26 in Glasgow.

There are now plans to create a toolkit, disseminated through workshops, to share their learnings and help other library services across the UK replicate their approach.

Marion Kunderan, head of programme on the SLIC ‘Lend and Mend’ project team: “With the ongoing cost of living crisis, the Lend and Mend Hubs have the potential to support families to make more sustainable choices. Libraries are trusted community spaces without agenda and have an opportunity to provide a space where communities can take action through practical everyday solutions locally.”

Marija Rompani, Director of Ethics and Sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “The Circular Future Fund allowed us to connect and support leading innovators to enhance their circular business models and drive the shift in circularity within the industry and society. “I'm so excited to share their findings, and hopefully this is just the beginning of the impact that each of the winning projects will have."

Nine Scottish Public Library services now have Lend & Mend Hubs.