Remembrance poppies to be plastic free this year in major redesign

Newly designed poppies which are plastic free have been unveiled (Royal British Legion/PA)
Newly designed poppies which are plastic free have been unveiled (Royal British Legion/PA)

Remembrance poppies will be plastic free and recyclable for the first time this year in a move to reduce single-use plastics.

The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal 2023 is launching a new poppy, coming as the first redesign of the historic symbol in a generation.

The British public will be able to buy the plastic-free version from thousands of volunteers across the UK or from major supermarkets from Thursday.

They will also be able to purchase existing poppies with plastic, which can be recycled at Sainsbury’s supermarkets, as the charity looks to clear out its remaining stock.

The annual campaign calls for the public to wear a poppy as a show of solidarity towards the armed forces community in the lead up to Remembrance Sunday, which falls on November 12 this year.

It also raises vital funds to support veterans, serving personnel and their families all year round.

Celebrities including actress Dame Joanna Lumley, singer and presenter Mica Paris MBE and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth will be showing their support for the new design, the British Royal Legion said.

Dame Joanna Lumley is supporting the new design (Royal British Legion/PA)

The charity said it has been developing the plastic-free poppy for the past three years as part of its efforts to become more sustainable and reduce its use of single-use plastic.

The new flowers are made from 100% paper, produced from a blend of renewable fibres from responsible sources, which can be recycled in household collections.

The Royal British Legion said 50% of the paper also comes from the offcuts created during the production of paper coffee cups.

The poppies feature a black centre embossed with the words “Poppy Appeal”, and no longer have a plastic stem or centre.

They can be fastened with a pin in the stem, worn in a buttonhole or a stick-on version is available.

The Royal British Legion, which produces 170,000 poppies a day to meet the demand ahead of Remembrance Sunday, said an analysis from University College London scientists suggests the new design could reduce emissions by 40%.

It is the first redesign of the poppies since the mid-1990s and the latest in a series of designs since it was first used to raise funds in 1921 following the First World War.

There have been more than 10 versions of the poppy throughout the years, including those from hand-crafted red silk with wire stems in the 1920s and a cardboard “austerity poppy” in wartime in the 1940s.

D-Day and Royal Navy veteran John Roberts, 99, from Whitstable, said: “I’ve been wearing a poppy for more than 70 years, all different versions from cardboard ones, cotton ones and ones with a plastic centre and today’s new plastic-free version but while the poppies have changed, what will always remain is its important meaning.

There have been several versions of the poppy since 1921 (Royal British Legion/PA)

“When I see people wearing a poppy, I think of all those we lost in World War Two.

“During the D-Day landings, my ship was based just offshore at Sword Beach. I witnessed the destruction happening on land – I’d never seen anything like it and never saw anything like it again.

“I was one of the lucky ones who survived as our ship was narrowly missed by a torpedo, so I wear my poppy to remember those who weren’t so lucky.”

Andy Taylor-Whyte, director of the campaign, said: “We’re so proud that this year we have our new plastic-free poppy too, so that the public can wear this poignant symbol of remembrance with less impact on the environment.

“Since the first Poppy Appeal in 1921 to today, public donations have provided a lifeline for service people and their families, and last year, we helped more than 27,000 people in the armed forces community.

“As a veteran myself, I am grateful to the public for giving what they can to support the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal this year.”

The charity worked alongside designers Matter and bespoke paper supplier James Cropper on the new design.

All funds raised will support serving personnel, veterans and their families in a range of ways, from help with the cost of living, mental wellbeing and housing, to support with recovery after trauma or illness.