Royal British Legion makes huge change to poppies for first time since 1968 as 2023 campaign is launched | The Sun

RED remembrance poppies which raise £40million a year for Britain’s military veterans have turned green — by going plastic-free.

For the first time in more than 50 years, the traditional symbol of gratitude from the nation to its Armed Forces personnel will be eco-friendly.

The Royal British Legion launched its annual fundraising appeal today by unveiling the new planet-conscious design.

Since 1968, the poppies have had a green stem and black button in the middle made of plastic.

But now RBL chiefs have created a totally biodegradable version made from offcuts left over in the production of coffee cups.

The stem, leaf, ­petals and the black centre — embossed with the words Poppy Appeal — are all made from paper that can be recycled.

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Yesterday actress Dame Joanna Lumley, 77 — herself an Army officer’s daughter — gave the new poppy her full backing.

The star of BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous said: “I’m proud to support the Royal British Legion as it launches its annual Poppy Appeal with a ­fantastic new plastic-free poppy.

“The Armed Forces make sacrifices every day so we can enjoy our freedoms and way of life.

“Your contribution will help the Royal British Legion continue supporting the Armed Forces community all year round, so please wear your ­plastic-free poppy with pride, as I do, to show that you care.”

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Other stars including comedian and Strictly Come Dancing winner Bill Bailey, 58, have also given their backing.

He said: “I’m proud to support the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal and wear my plastic-free poppy.

“It’s a small act of appreciation to those in the Armed Forces and their families who have given so much.”

The new planet-friendly poppy will be sold by 40,000 volunteers around the UK between now and Remembrance Sunday on November 12.

It can be fastened with a pin in the stem, worn in a buttonhole, and a stick-on version is also available.

And every day throughout that ­period, The Sun will proudly display this new version of the poppy — which has been the Legion’s symbol of remembrance since 1921.

Our pictures above show how the design has altered over the past century.

Please wear your plastic-free poppy with pride, as I do, to show that you care.

But the message showing Britain’s support for millions of servicemen and women has never changed.

It has taken three years to develop the biodegradable poppy — and invent the machinery for the RBL’s poppy factory in Aylesford, Kent, which churns out 44.2million poppies a year.

The plastic-free version is made from a combination of 50 per cent renewable wood fibre from sustainable forestry and 50 per cent waste paper from the leftovers created in the ­production of coffee cups.

After Remembrance Sunday, the plastic-free poppies can be saved for next year or recycled in home bins.

Researchers at University College London found production of the new version has a 40 per cent smaller carbon footprint than the old design.

And the 130,000 poppy wreaths which will be laid at war memorials throughout the UK and overseas on Remembrance Sunday also no longer have plastic-coated message cards.

These have been replaced by notes made from eco-friendly fibreboard.

RBL Poppy Appeal Director Andy Taylor-Whyte said: “Since the first Poppy Appeal in 1921 to today, public donations have provided a lifeline for service people and their families.

“Last year we helped more than 27,000 people in the Armed Forces community. Wearing a poppy shows our military veterans that you care.

“We are 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.”

  • DONATE to the Poppy Appeal through the British Legion’s 40,000 sellers or online at

I survived but I was just lucky

D-DAY veteran John Roberts served in the Royal Navy for 40 years and became Captain of HMS Ark Royal.

He has worn a poppy since the age of 13 and seen many versions through the years.

John, 99, of Whitstable, Kent, said: “I’ve been wearing a poppy for more than 80 years, all different versions.

"But while the poppies have changed, what will always remain is its important meaning.

“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 just off shore at Sword Beach. I witnessed the destruction happening on land.

“I’d never seen anything like it and never saw anything like it again.

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"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.

“They risked everything to protect our way of life and my poppy shows that their service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

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