First to be plastic-free

Royal British Legion launches paper poppy

James Cropper's 3ft paper poppy with ex-forces members of staff
James Cropper's 3ft paper poppy with ex-forces members of staff

The Royal British Legion (RBL)’s Poppy Appeal launched yesterday (26 October) with its first ever 100% paper-based poppy.

The new poppy, recyclable in ordinary paper collections, will result in 40% less carbon emissions, and is free of single-use plastic.

The familiar black plastic 'button' at the centre, and green plastic stalk, have been replaced by paper-based elements.

Millions of poppies are manufactured every year at the RBL and Poppyscotland’s poppy factories: James Cropper, the paper mill that supplies them, delivers over three miles (5km) of narrow red and green paper rolls each year.

Richard Bracewell, James Cropper’s MD, said: “This year’s appeal marks 45 years of our partnership with the Royal British Legion, which we are incredibly proud of. 

“Back in 1978 the RBL contacted us looking for a colour-fast and biodegradable paper alternative to the fabric poppy. 

“Even back then, the request was ahead of its time because RBL wanted to make certain that going forward the global symbol of remembrance could be easily recycled in parts.”

To mark the occasion, James Cropper commissioned Yorkshire-based paper engineer Sarah-Louise Matthews to create a 3ft paper poppy, which was installed at James Cropper’s Kendal mill.

This year, the charities took delivery of three bespoke machines from Sewtec, a manufacturer of customised packaging conversion machinery, to fold the new design by consultancy Matter.

John MacDonald, design director at Matter said: ”We didn’t want to simply reduce single use plastic, but to eliminate it completely. 

“Paper offers a single-material solution that can be easily recycled, as well as offering a bold, elegant approach for the next generation of poppies.”

James Cropper said its paper was constructed with a blend of renewable fibres from responsible sources, half of which has been recovered from paper coffee cup production at the manufacturer’s CupCycling factory.

The RBL’s executive director of Marketing, Fundraising and Remembrance, Gary Ryan said: “We're proud to have designed a plastic-free poppy that will enable people to show their support for our Armed Forces community in a more sustainable way. 

“We are thankful to our long-standing supplier James Cropper who developed the innovative paper used in the new poppy.”

The new poppy is available now alongside remaining stocks of the older poppy design for the 2023 Poppy Appeal.

The Poppy Appeal supports armed forces members and veterans throughout their lives, providing advice, guidance, and recovery and rehabilitation for injuries sustained in service.