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Paper pins to replace traditional Remembrance Day poppies

Looking to reduce the waste produced by a commemorative day celebrated across the UK, the Royal British Legion embarked upon a three-year journey to replace the traditionally plastic poppies with upcycled paper pins.

Every year in November, 45 million poppy pins are sold in Britain as the nation prepares to celebrate Remembrance Day.

The design we see pinned to the lapels of businessmen, TV presenters, and football pundits annually has remained the same for nearly three decades. The gesture aims to show respect for military personnel who lost their lives during the First World War.

In recent years though, the Royal British Legion has been scrutinised for continuing to make them out of plastic. Though it’s likely many people store their poppies away safely for the coming year, others will not think twice about discarding them.

As a result, the organisation embarked upon a three-year journey to create a new design that is void of plastic. It involved consulting veterans, poppy sellers, and multiple trials of the design’s durability.

Announcing the poppy’s new look, the Royal British Legion says it boasts a carbon footprint that is 40 percent smaller than its previous design. This is also thanks to the paper, which is made up of upcycled material.

The plant-friendly poppy’s upcycled component is sourced from one of the most popular single-use items. Coffee cups.

To obtain this material, the British Legion partnered with manufacturers of single-use coffee cups and requested them to redirect any waste created during the process to their cause.

At least 50 percent of the poppy will be made of waste created during the production of coffee cups, while the remaining 50 percent is made up of wood sourced from sustainable forests.

The upgraded poppy has its traditionally black centre which has been embossed with ‘Poppy Appeal,’ paper red petals and includes a green leaf rather than a plastic stem.

Speaking of the new design, the director of Poppy Appeal, Andy Taylor-White said:

‘The durability is really important, because of what it represents for the nation – making sure the colourfastness was right, the fact that could be worn for a number of days and beyond, and obviously, it’s completely recyclable now as well.’

Though nationwide grocers such as Sainsbury’s provided helpful poppy-recycling collection bins, the aim is to make sure no plastic ends up travelling from people’s homes and into landfill.

This has been achieved through the new design, which enables poppy-wearers to upcycle the paper poppies through home recycling bins. Taylor-White, a veteran himself, said he ‘[the new poppy] means so much to me. We’re here to improve on what we have and we’ve done that.’

It’s a small, but impactful step that illustrates how little changes in thinking and design can create a massively positive result.

Though leftover stocks of last year’s poppies will be sold until they run out, we can expect to see paper versions dotting the UK in a few months’ time.