Perched on the edge of the Lake District National Park about 6 miles from Windermere in the North West of England, we’d forgive you for thinking that like our surroundings, we are quaint.

Our very own Matthew Miller and Richard Burnett hosted a webinar recently which gave an insight into how we can help support businesses on their sustainability journey. Read Richard Burnett’s blog post on the very same topic below – he calls for businesses to work together to reduce the impact of single-use plastics.

Perched on the edge of the Lake District National Park about 6 miles from Windermere in the North West of England, we’d forgive you for thinking that like our surroundings, we are quaint. It’s truly beautiful here. In reality though, we’re not quaint. We’re razor sharp at the very forefront of new technologies, a driving force of sustainability and one of the first paper mills in the world to make coloured paper from the first synthetic dyes.

I talked about this on a webinar I hosted recently with a colleague which aimed to demonstrate how James Cropper can support businesses across the country in their journey of sustainability.

I suppose it’s not a new message; we’re a business that wants to continue to grow, but it runs deeper than that. The decline in British paper-making came to a head in the early 1980s owing to an international recession and high interest rates. Manufacturing output fell and over 1.5 million jobs were shed in British industry. James Cropper survived, and not only that, it thrived in an environment where sadly, many other companies didn’t.

You could say it was the making of us, but that would undermine our continual investment, modernisation, and diversification.

Not to mention a deep-seated dedication to sustainability. It’s in our blood and drives everything we do. For example, we have embedded a circular economy into our supply chain to ensure we use sustainably sourced materials and reduce and reuse where possible. We take water from the river Kent. Over 91 percent of this is returned to the river as clean as it came into the mill. It’s serious stuff.

Our CupCycling™ initiative – the world’s first recycling process dedicated to upcycling take-away cups – is the feather in our cap. There are 250 billion paper cups used globally every year, and in the UK we’re using 2.5 billion of these.

CupCycling™ enables us to work with supply chain partners and brands to drastically reduce this mammoth number of take-away cups estimated to be thrown away in the UK each year and transform them into new paper products. We haven’t been doing it alone though – any challenge to the coffee cup crisis would be impossible without our partners. Shoulder to shoulder, they stand with us as a driving force of change.

For example, McDonalds have installed recycling stations in all 1200 of their stores in the UK. These are collected by Veolia who send them to us to be upcycled.

Another great example is Costa. They share their cups for recycling with us and have also launched a scheme whereby they now pay a fee to waste management companies to encourage a rise In the collection of cups for recycling. In year one, they’ll pay a fee on the collection of 100 million cups, with this anticipated to increase to 500 million in year two. Aside from being a brilliant initiative, for waste management companies it shows that there is significant value in collecting used cups.

Waste organisations such as Paper Round, Grundon and First Mile are also starting to offer a cup collection service. Gatwick Airport has been a trail blazer from a transport point of view, collecting cups brought in landside and airside. They are working with DHL which sorts and bales, ready to be sent to us at the mill.

It’s crucial to remember that amongst all of this there’s an end user. We work with G . F Smith – which is a speciality paper merchant – to produce a range of papers called Extract which includes fibre from used coffee cups and is then used in the creative print and packaging markets.

Extract is a unique range of ten coloured papers, that are available off-the-shelf – so whether it’s for business cards or brochures – its further proof of the value of being able to upcycle something and create something truly beautiful and unique that the market wants.

I’m immensely proud our story of our rich heritage, but it is also one of game-changing modernity, innovation, passion and relentless energy for sustainability. Our partnerships have helped us to make a big difference in developing a game changing recycling infrastructure that will help build a better future. Together we’re making progress.

So what’s my point? The secret to creating great things from these small beginnings lies in a collective pledge from society for products that have a low impact on the environment over their lifecycle.

We have capacity to recycle 500 million cups every year. We welcome even more passionate partners; commitment from consumers, retailers, waste management companies, government and beyond, to make positive changes for the future.

If I’ve sparked your interest, do get in touch. If you have the same values as us, we’re going to do great things together.

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