Sustainable Cornish company unlocks global markets with recycled products

Zoe Bagnall
Content and PR Executive | Business West
11th December 2020

Ashortwalk was founded by Dan Dicker, a keen surfer and product designer back in 2003. The first product he designed as part of his company was a tide clock for surfers made using off cuts from old washing machines. He then started recycling coffee cup lids to create the tide clocks as well as picture frames, chalk boards and coasters.

“He always wanted to live a short walk from the sea” his brother, Simon Dicker and the company’s Sales Director says. 

The company now has approximately 50-60 products including a range of garden items such as bird feeders made from recycled plant pots. The pots are collected from garden centres which are then sold as bird feeders in the same businesses, creating a sustainable circular loop.

The product that has been most successful in terms of exporting has been its Circular Cup, with the biggest trade partners now being Benelux, Canada, and Czech Republic. 

“When the news started to hit in 2018 that very few paper cups were being recycled, large coffee corporations were keen to take action so they approached us to ask if there was anything we could do to help recycle the cups. 

“This is how the idea for the sustainable, 100% recyclable coffee cup came about.” Simon says. 

The company now works with waste contractors for large coffee companies to collect and recycle single use coffee cups. 

Its export turnover in 2017 was £30,000, representing around 6% of its total business for the year. It is now on course for a turnover of £400,000 in 2020, making up 12% of its total profit- a growth of over 1,200% in the last three years.

The company has been helped to achieve this through The Department for International Trade and their International Trade Advisor (ITA), Ben Leonard, who has supported the company through finding distribution partners in a range of EU and non-EU markets.

DIT has also helped the company to access grants for trade shows in Ambiente and Frankfurt. This has been fruitful for the company in terms of helping it to forge relationships with potential buyers.

Commenting on the company’s export journey with DIT, Simon said: 

“DIT has been hugely helpful in terms of helping us partner with overseas buyers in countries like Australia, Germany and the USA. Ben has been our point of contact and has been so supportive on a range of issues.

“He has helped us to find an export consultant for us understand how to manage our distributors, which has been really crucial for our growth.”

When asked about the advice he would give to companies starting out on exporting he said:

“Use DIT as much as possible, it has been a great help. There is a lot resource there that can be gained through grants or is free at the point of service. I would advise any company looking to be more proactive from an export point of view to get in touch with them – you never know which doors could open.” 

To discuss your export options with one of DIT’s International Trade Advisers in the South West contact 01275 774 456 or visit to find out about the range of support available and live export opportunities. 

DIT’s services in the South West are delivered by Business West. For further information, click here.

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