UK – English papermaking company, James Cropper is launching a line of recycled paper made from 20% used denim fibers and 80% recycled fibers from coffee cups.

Branded as Rydal Apparel, the cotton-based paper may be recycled in common waste streams, potentially giving the fiber a third and fourth life.

The launch of Rydal Apparel is the latest innovation using James Cropper’s FibreBlend Upcycled Technology and is targeted at global waste issues.

“With 8 billion pairs of jeans produced globally each year, fashion’s favorite staple contributes significantly to the textile waste problem,” said Kate Gilpin, Packaging Project Leader of James Cropper.

According to a report, majority of worn clothing is sent to incineration or landfill, while 12% is recycled for insulation or mattresses, and less than 1% is used to make new products.

James Cropper believes that the upcycling of waste denim into paper opens up the opportunity for these cotton textile fibers to be recycled repeatedly in standard paper waste stream.

“Although modern papermaking relies heavily on pulps made from wood fiber, we are reviving the use of cotton rag in our portfolio as part of our ongoing commitment to fiber innovation and creating value from waste,” explained Gilpin.

The company buys the pulped denim from a European partner and then blends the different source materials.

The end product is an ‘icy white’ paper with a light blue hue, created by the denim fiber, which is visible in the finished paper.

The range includes 220gsm and 350gsm premium packaging paper in Denim White and is suitable for a range of products.

“One of our main focuses at the mill is looking at sustainability and innovation with fiber. No one in modern papermaking has used post-consumer denim before, it’s always been offcuts from production and this product is 40% post-consumer overall,”  added Gilpin

“Our research and development team identified, during the first lockdown, the scale of the global textile waste problem and just how much was going to landfill.”

Meanwhile, the company has launched a two-year educational program to address succession planning within the business and produce its color specialists of the future.

The James Cropper Colour Academy opens to its first cohort in September and will use resources and knowledge from the firm’s Colour Lab and color blending team.

In the first year, the syllabus focuses on fibers, pulp and stock preparation, while the second year will cover color-matching and working alongside the blender teams.

It is the company’s aim that those completing the Academy program will help to standardize processes, skills and knowledge across the business.

The Academy launches as the papermaker invests in a state-of-the-art color control cabin for its color blending facility, providing the team with a constant overview of the color blending process while in operation.

The investment in its technical capabilities and the Colour Academy is in direct response to the increasing significance of color in brand identity and packaging design.

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