George, who passed away on 24 September at his home in Leicester, led the business through several periods of great expansion.

Last year a £21m 150,000 tonnes-per-annum materials recycling facility was officially opened by recycling minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach. Casepak was also crowed Leicestershire business of the year in 2012.

In 1997 Casepak moved to a purpose-built site in Enderby, processing 144,000 tonnes of recycled material every year. This marked a quarter of a century since he launched into cartons by opening his own business with just one lorry.

George Albert Edward Smith was born in 1936 in Leicester and on leaving the navy aged 19 worked in a local grocery store. In the early 1960s he acquired the city’s Corn Exchange and ran a bingo hall, gaining the moniker “Bingo George”, which stayed with him for the rest of his life.

He joined Vinaflex in Leicester, which used expensive cartons to make soles for shoes, and in a bid to reduce costs, started buying second-hand cartons. In 1972 he launched his own second-hand carton business, employing seven people and called Casepak.

He identified another niche by selling his unusable cartons for recycling and saw a large and lucrative opening in recycling. Contracts across the Midlands with box makers, printers and news houses soon followed and business snowballed.

He was helped by his eight children, all of whom still work in the business, which now employs more than 200 people. Son and joint managing director Mark Smith said his father was great to work with and for, and always made time for the entire team.

“George, my dad, had a real recycling vision. He was one of the first to recognise the opportunities that lay ahead. His drive, determination and inspiration shaped the company to become one of the best independent recyclers in the country. He’s already sadly missed.”

A funeral will be held at Leicester Cathedral (St Martin’s) on Friday (4 October).