Sappi Wants Its Environmental Impact To Be Positive

(3BL/JustMeans) Sappi Limited is a South African pulp and paper company with global operations, including Sappi North America. A company that operates globally can have a big environmental impact. And now, Sappi has decided to make its large impact a more positive one.

Any pulp and paper company that wants to be more environmentally sustainable needs to have good forest stewardship standards. Sappi Limited sources all of its wood and market craft pulp from well-managed forests, and procures all of its fiber from sources in accord with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and  Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) standards. The company’s goal is to procure 60 percent of its fiber from certified sources by 2020; to date, it has achieved 58 percent. The certified sources include FSC, SFI and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Less than 10 percent of the world’s forests are certified to a credible standard.

Sappi is a leader in promoting sustainable forest management. Sappi North America was the first pulp and paper company in North America to be granted a group forest management certificate by the FSC. It is a founding member of GreenBlue’s Forest Products Working Group where it works on forest certification issues. Sappi Forests is a founding member of the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) based in the Forestry and Bio-technical Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria.

Sappi North America’s paper mill in Cloquet, Minnesota is an example of environmental sustainability. The paper mill generates almost all of its own electricity, with over 80 percent from renewable sources. Since 2008, the mill has reduced the waste sent to landfill by over 55 percent. One way it has reduced waste is through a program which donates ash to local farmers so they can use it as a soil amendment. The program has helped the company see its lowest level of solid waste sent to landfill in the last five years.

Pulp and paper companies need much energy and water to function. So, Sappi Limited generates 57 percent of its energy on-site, and 52 percent of it is renewable.  In North America, the company uses renewable energy for over 70 percent of its energy needs. Sappi has reduced its specific energy consumption by eight percent and achieved a nine percent increase in energy self-sufficiency. Using less energy means less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Sappi has achieved a combined 16 percent reduction of its direct and indirect GHG emissions over the last five years.

Sappi’s North American mills only use surface water sources, lakes and rivers, and returns treated water to the primary source. For example, at the Cloquet mill, the treated water is returned to Lake Superior. A total of 91.8 percent of the water drawn globally by Sappi is returned, on average. In South Africa, surface water abstraction has decreased, and Sappi attributes that to the Saiccor Mill’s water use reductions.

Photo: Sappi Limited