'Cupcycling' - a Sustainability Story


Sustainability has been a core part of Cowshed's philosophy since our early days and we are always looking for new ways to reduce the environmental impact of our products and packaging. As part of our refresh, we are now using G . F Smith for the paper boxes that hold our skincare. These are made at a paper mill in the Lake District from recycled coffee cups which would otherwise have gone into landfill.


G . F Smith launched their Extract paper range in 2017 as a way to reduce the number of disposable coffee cups being sent to landfill, which in the UK is approximately 2.5 billion a year. There is a layer of plastic (polyethylene) bonded to the paper which makes them particularly challenging to recycle. Using new technology in the recycling process, the plastic is separated and the paper is reused to create the Extract range of beautifully textured, coloured papers.


The James Cropper mill works with recycling partners to collect used coffee cups from the likes of McDonalds, Costa and other cafes and shops. The plastic liner is up-cycled into something new entirely such as cable coverings, meaning the entire process is zero waste. The recycled paper fibre makes up approximately 20% of the sheet of paper, meaning there are five 7oz paper cups per sheet. The remaining 80% is virgin fibre which helps with shade variation and also good printing and folding properties. The mill can recycle 500 million cups annually and the ultimate goal is to discontinue the paper entirely once consumer habits have changed and there is no more fibre to be rescued.


Many recycled papers have an obvious 'pre-used' look and feel to them, but G . F Smith's refined Extract paper proves that you don't have to choose between sustainability and technical credentials. We use the off white shade of Extract called Moon in 380gsm, which was then overprinted with navy and folded into a beautiful box for our skincare products.

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