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104 Richard Burnett – Diversity and packaging innovation

Circular Economy Podcast - 104 Richard Burnett – Diversity and packaging innovation

Innovation and diversification is key to the success of James Cropper, a 6th generation family business, based in the English Lake District

Richard Burnett is Head of Technology and Innovation at James Cropper, a prestige supplier of custom-made paper products to many of the world’s leading luxury brands, art galleries and designers.

Richard oversees the Technology & Innovation function at James Cropper, with projects including the Colourform moulded packaging proposition and the acquisition of Technical Fibre Products Hydrogen, a world leader in green hydrogen technology. 

Richard led the implementation of the CupCycling programme, introducing the world’s first upcycling process for take-away coffee cups.

They discuss the challenges facing the packaging industry, and how James Cropper is both innovating and diversifying, with innovations in speciality paper, bespoke luxury packaging, and advanced non woven and electrochemical materials. We hear about developments in materials, in packaging design, and in manufacturing technology.

Podcast host Catherine Weetman is a circular economy business advisor, workshop facilitator, speaker and writer.  Her award-winning book: A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business includes lots of practical examples and tips on getting started.  Catherine founded Rethink Global in 2013, to help businesses use circular, sustainable approaches to build a better business (and a better world).

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Links we mention in the episode:

  • A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business – buy from any good bookseller, or direct from the publisher Kogan Page, which ships worldwide (free shipping to UK and US) and you can use discount code CIRCL20 to get 20% off. It’s available in paperback, ebook and Kindle. If you buy it from online sources, make sure you choose the new edition with an orange cover!
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Books, people and organisations we mentioned

About Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, Head of Technology and Innovation at James Cropper

Richard is responsible for overseeing the Technology & Innovation (T&I) function at James Cropper, which since its inception has been set up to explore and deliver step-change growth to the company. This has included establishing the Colourform moulded packaging proposition and the acquisition of Technical Fibre Products Hydrogen, a world leader in green hydrogen technology.  Under Richard’s leadership T&I at James Cropper is entering into a new and exciting phase, accelerating current decarbonisation projects and developing new ones. 

Richard graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in Paper Science in 2002. From there, he worked for UPM for 12 years in roles across the business, starting in Operations and Technical before moving into Supply Chain and Sales. Richard joined James Cropper Paper eight years ago as Technical Sales Manager where he led the implementation of the CupCycling programme which saw the papermaker introduce the world’s first recycling process and award winning innovation dedicated to upcycling take-away coffee cups. Richard then moved into the role of Recovered Fibre Operations Manager in 2020, leading the growth in the use of Recovered Fibre in the Paper business. 

James Cropper

James Cropper is a prestige paper innovator based in the English Lake District, supplying distinct, custom-made paper products to many of the world’s leading luxury brands, art galleries and designers.  Throughout 176 years of high-quality paper production, the business has been carefully stewarded and nurtured by six generations of the Cropper family and is renowned globally for individual expertise in colour and fibre innovation.      

Interview Transcript

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Want to dig deeper?

Why not buy Catherine’s award-winning book, A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business. This comprehensive guide uses a bottom-up, practical approach, and includes hundreds of real examples from around the world, to help you really ‘get’ the circular economy.  Even better, you’ll be inspired with ideas to make your own business more competitive, resilient and sustainable. 

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Podcast music

Thanks to Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, otherwise known as the brilliant, inventive and generous folk duo, O’Hooley & Tidow for allowing me to use the instrumentals from the live version of Summat’s Brewin’ as music for the podcast. You can find the whole track (inspired by the Copper Family song “Oh Good Ale”) on their album, also called Summat’s Brewin’.  Or, follow them on Twitter.

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