In November 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the John Lewis Corporate Responsibility Report 2018/19.
It stated, "John Lewis & Partners use a wide mix of materials to make their products. Buying and technical Partners work with suppliers to source these materials in a more sustainable way including timber, cotton, recycled polyester, leather and feather and down. To help our buyers navigate the complexities of sourcing sustainable materials, we’ve developed Materials Matter - a guide for buyers to use when developing new ranges, looking at new suppliers or reviewing existing assortments. The guide is designed to support the sourcing process as we transition our supply base to more sustainable materials. We are currently expanding the guide further and moving it to a new online platform for our Partners and suppliers to access. In 2019, we’ll also be focusing on improving the traceability of some of our key raw materials with a focus on cashmere and mohair, working with our supply chain to guarantee traceability back to the farm. We’ll report more on our progress next year."
The company's Ethics and Sustainability Progress Report 2019/20 was also viewed, which stated with regard to down: "We continue to work with all our own-brand feather and down suppliers to implement certified responsible standards in their supply chains, and are on track to meet our target and report this as a percentage by the end of the 2020/21 financial year." The company's target was "100% of feather and down used in own-brand products to be from certified responsible sources by the end of January 2021." No further detail was provided on this.
The Materials Matter guide was not found online. Due to the fact that the company sold leather, it lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer’s Animal Rights category.
It also lost half a mark in the Pollution and Toxics category for the following reason: leather, as the hide of a dead animal, naturally decomposes. To prevent this decomposition the leather industry uses a cocktail of harmful chemicals including trivalent chromium sulphate, sodium sulphide, sodium sulfhydrate, arsenic and cyanide to preserve it. Tannery effluent also contains large amounts of other pollutants, such as protein, hair, salt, lime sludge and acids. These can all pollute the land, air, and water supply making it a highly polluting industry.
Regarding feather and down, the company sold own-brand feather and down products including duvets and pillows, with no information in the product details online about animal welfare. According to campaign group Four Paws, animal suffering from the live-plucking and force-feeding of geese and ducks was present in the general down supply chains. In order to avoid these practices, a company was expected to adopt a standard that would trace and audit their whole supply chain, including higher-risk parent farms, to ensure such cruelties are excluded. Four Paws had found that certificates and audit reports from suppliers themselves 'do not provide sufficient guarantees that animals have a cruelty free life.' As the company had not adopted a down standard that included higher-risk parent farms, it lost a whole mark under the Animal Rights category.