Wednesday, 10 May 2023 11:52

James Cropper collaborates on development of the Royal British Legion's new plastic free poppy

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The 100% paper design of the charity's iconic poppy will be available from this year's Poppy Appeal onwards

James Cropper, specialist papermaker based in the English Lake District, has collaborated on the creation of the Royal British Legion’s new plastic-free poppy that’s now made entirely from paper.

Working with the Royal British Legion (RBL), and design consultancy Matter, James Cropper is proud to have co-created the poppy which will reduce carbon emissions by 40 per cent. It is free from single-use plastic and can be recycled in ordinary paper recycling collections.

The design is part of the charity’s commitment to reducing single-use plastic in all its activities in a drive to be economical, sustainable, and less impactful to the environment. The new poppy maintains the iconic poppy design and leaf shape and can be fastened with a pin, inserted into a buttonhole, or stick on versions are available.

Marking 45 years of partnership with the RBL, the paper provided for the new design is made from a blend of renewable fibres from responsible sources, 50 per cent of which has been recovered from paper coffee cup production via James Cropper’s CupCycling facility in Cumbria.

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Steve Adams, Chief Executive Officer at James Cropper, said: “Every year since 1978, red and green papers made at our paper mill are transformed into millions of poppies for the annual Poppy Appeal that continues to provide vital support to the Armed Forces community.

“Although we are involved each year, we never take for granted what this symbol means to so many families and the country as a whole. Everyone at James Cropper is very proud of our long-standing involvement in the production of the paper poppy, worn the world over as a symbol of respect and remembrance.”

The original paper poppy design was first produced in the 1970s. A request went out to paper mills for assistance in finding a bleed-free paper, and the partnership between James Cropper and the RBL began. James Cropper now delivers over three miles (5km) of narrow red and green paper rolls, which are made into millions of poppies, to the RBL and Poppyscotland’s poppy factories every year.

The Royal British Legion’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 company’s industry-leading technology which reuses waste from the manufacture of coffee cups has ensured the iconic poppy is now made entirely from responsibly sourced materials. The Royal British Legion provides a lifeline for serving personnel, veterans and their families facing hardship, injury and bereavement. We hope our new plastic-free poppy, which will be available alongside existing poppy stocks, will encourage people to support the Poppy Appeal this year and help us continue our vital work.”

John MacDonald, Design Director at Matter said: “We didn’t want to simply reduce single use plastic, but to eliminate it completely. Paper offered a single-material solution that could be easily recycled, as well as offering a bold, elegant approach for the next generation of poppies. When applied well, paper is such a beautiful material. The new poppy uses papers entirely bespoke to the RBL, with print finish details that lift 3D form and deliver a quality that the remembrance occasion deserves.”

With sustainable solutions at the heart of the James Cropper mission, the new poppy contributes to its vision to drive growth of upcycled fibre within the company’s paper products to 50 per cent by 2025: pioneering materials to safeguard our future.

James Cropper’s FibreBlend Upcycled Technology model organises the plethora of fibre blend options available to customers into a clear offer, demonstrating the limitless expertise available to them. From the world’s first technology to upcycle used coffee cups to the industry leading incorporation of used jeans into fully recyclable paper for packaging - transforming waste into beautiful paper and packaging is at the core of the FibreBlend Upcycled Technology mission.

The plastic-free poppy will be available for the 2023 Poppy Appeal alongside remaining stocks of the current poppy, which can be returned to Sainsbury’s stores for recycling.

James Cropper   

James Cropper is a prestige paper innovator based in the English Lake District, supplying distinct, custom-made paper products to many of the world’s leading luxury brands, art galleries and designers.   

Throughout 176 years of high-quality paper production, the business has been carefully stewarded and nurtured by six generations of the Cropper family and is renowned globally for individual expertise in colour and fibre innovation.  

The Royal British Legion 

The Royal British Legion (RBL) is the UKs largest charity dedicated to supporting the needs of the Armed Forces community, past and present and their families. The RBL is the champion of Remembrance and safeguards the Armed Forces Covenant. It is well known for the annual Poppy Appeal and its emblem the red poppy. For further information, visit


We are a team of designers, committed to making a difference. A creative studio of thinkers and makers, inspired by what we can achieve for a positive future. For the people who experience our products, for the organisations we transform and for the world we live in.

User-experience and responsible design are at the centre of everything we do. Our services include product and packaging design, brand strategy, sustainable futures, concept visions and prototyping.

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