Comic Relief has today revealed its first ever 100% plastic-free, plant-based Red Nose, which will launch early next year for Red Nose Day 2021.

Comic Relief and its long-standing partner, Sainsbury’s, have created the new Red Nose from bagasse, a natural by-product of sugarcane, chosen for its widely celebrated sustainable qualities.

The new Nose has taken over 18 months to develop, following extensive research and testing into suitable plastic free alternative materials. In keeping with the environmentally friendly theme, the Noses will be available in 10 different characters representing the great outdoors for the public to collect, including a squirrel, fox, badger and more.

Comic Relief and Sainsbury’s had been researching more sustainable materials for some time, when in early 2019, the charity received letters and emails from hundreds of school children from across the country, asking them to create a plastic-free Nose to help reduce single-use plastic waste and protect the environment. Hearing their voices encouraged the charity to step up a gear with their sustainability plans.

One school, Fourlanesend Community Primary School in Cornwall, received the backing of Sir David Attenborough when they wrote to him and shared their alternative Red Nose suggestion. Sir David sent them a handwritten letter which said, “you are perfectly correct to revise the question of replacing plastic products wherever we can, and I hope you get an adequate answer from Comic Relief.”

Later today, pupils aged between five and 10 from the school, will be given an exclusive first look at the new Noses and thanked for their environmental ideas and letters. They will meet a virtual panel of guests including Comic Relief co-founder, Richard Curtis, environmental broadcaster, Liz Bonnin, and host TV presenter, Ore Oduba, to discuss their views on the new Nose, why reducing single-use plastic waste is important and further steps we can all take.

Richard Curtis, Comic Relief co-founder, said: “I’m extremely pleased that we have created the first plastic-free nose for Red Nose Day 2021 – it is amazing what you can create from a sugar cane product. Our new Nose marks a strong step on our sustainability journey. We are committed to designing a more sustainable Nose every year, while continuing to make them attractive and fun, and recognise we still have a lot of work to do in creating the perfect model.

“But this journey is an exciting one and we thank all the children and supporters who let us know they wanted a plastic free option. I’m delighted to give the environmental champion pupils at Fourlanesend Community Primary School the first look at the new Noses. Children are at the heart of our Red Nose Day campaign and their opinions are really important to us. The work we support at Comic Relief is more important than ever in the face of COVID-19 – so let’s hope we sell a lot of Noses and continue to help to changes a lot of lives at home and abroad.”

Rebecca Norton, Head Teacher at Fourlanesend Community Primary School, said: “Plastic is an issue our children care passionately about as they see so much plastic waste wash up on the shores of our beaches. They are such huge supporters of Comic Relief and really wanted to see the Nose change so they could continue supporting the work they do. The children were the driving force behind contacting our local press in 2019 and writing to Comic Relief and can’t quite believe this has all happened!

“They have their questions ready for the conference and will not be going easy on the panellists! One of the most important things to come from this for me, is that the children have been listened too – this has really shown them that they can make a difference and should always stand up for what they believe in.”

Lauren, a pupil, aged nine, at Fourlanesend Community Primary School, said: “We’re very excited and happy to be taking part in the conference. We’re such a small school, but despite that, we’ve been able to do something that is going to make a really big difference to the world we live in.

“Here at school, and in our local community we are very passionate about reducing our use of plastic, so it’s a really good feeling knowing that what we’ve done has encouraged Comic Relief to create a plastic-free Nose. We were all so excited when we heard the news; it’s something each and everyone one of us will always remember and be very proud of.”

The Red Nose first launched in 1988 when Comic Relief founders, Sir Lenny Henry and Richard Curtis, wanted to create a symbol for the charity and it’s first event. Thirty-two years later, the Red Nose has raised over £70million for good causes, helping to change countless lives in the UK and all over the world.

Comic Relief and Sainsbury’s are committed to developing the material of the Nose year on year, with the goal being to create a Nose that is compostable at home in the near future. Today Comic Relief also announces Red Nose Day returning to its annual format from next year. The Sport Relief campaign, which until today would run biannual alongside Red Nose Day, will continue to be one of Comic Relief’s major fundraising campaigns but in a different way that aligns with relevant sporting moments throughout the year.

Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand, said: “Sainsbury’s first started selling the iconic Red Nose in 1999 and we have been working with Comic Relief to make and sell the Nose since 2009. We are proud of how far we’ve come in that time and are pleased with the millions of pounds that have been raised for the charity to help the most vulnerable people in the UK and abroad.

“Sainsbury’s has long been committed to looking for new and innovative ways to be more sustainable and we’ve worked hard to develop a plastic free Nose for 2021. We’re excited that this year’s Nose will be made from plant-based materials and have even higher hopes for the Nose of 2022.”

Ruth Davison, Chief Executive of Comic Relief said: “Reducing single-use plastic is vitally important and Comic Relief is firmly committed to playing our part. Our Red Noses are very popular, and we have been determined to create a more sustainable plastic-free version for everyone to enjoy. We know that making small changes can make a big environmental difference and I’m so pleased that school pupils across the UK have championed our decision to ditch plastic and deliver a ‘greener’ Red Nose!”

Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder of A Plastic Planet said: “It’s great that the iconic Comic Relief Red Nose is no longer made from indestructible plastic that will exist for centuries after this fundraising day is over. This is a big step forward and we hope it doesn’t end here. We need Comic Relief to continue to lead others, taking responsibility by making Red Nose Day wholly sustainable, banishing anything plastic and single-use to the past.”

Tony Bosworth, plastics campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Everyone knows how extensive plastic pollution is and what it does to wildlife so it’s good that the famous Comic Relief nose will be plastic free. We need alternative and better solutions to avoid single-use plastic everywhere and this should be led by industry and government. We look forward to Comic Relief making sure that all of its materials are environmentally friendly.”