Sappi North America Aims To Be More Sustainable

(3BL/JustMeans) The wood products industry is a leader in the use of renewable energy. Almost two-thirds of the industry’s total energy is from renewable energy, on average. Most pulp and paper mills use the co-generation of steam and power, and many of them sell electricity or renewable energy credits. Energy happens to be Sappi North America’s third largest expense related to pape making, so reducing energy and using more renewables helps the planet and the bottom line.

Sappi North America has set lofty sustainability goals. One of those goals is achieving 60 percent total certified fiber content by 2020. In 2016, the company achieved 54 percent certified fiber content.

Sappi recognizes a number of third-party certification programs, including the Forest Stewardship Council, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. The company also supports a collaborative effort between the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and the American Forest Foundation to develop a landscape level assurance model focusing on small family-owned forests in the U.S. Individual and family-owned land makes up over one-third of all land across the U.S. Over half of the wood harvested for the wood products industry is estimated to come from family-owned forests.

The partnership between the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and the American Forest Foundation seeks to identify new methods for evaluating sustainable forest management on family-owned land. It also seeks to develop a data-driven assurance model that will demonstrate how the actions and practices of landowners on individual parcels lead to healthy forests or regional ecosystems. The model could be used to opportunities to enhance forest sustainability.

Sappi North America has a goal of reducing the total amount of energy used in making each ton of product by five percent by 2020. It has already achieved a 3.9 percent reduction. Fossil fuel use is both a main driver of climate change and a major cost driver in the woods products industry. The company already uses over 70 percent renewable fuels to supply its internal energy needs, and over 80 percent of the fuels it uses to generate steam and power are renewable fuels. Only a small portion of its total energy needs comes from electricity purchased from local power grids.

Reducing raw material waste in its pulp and paper mills by 10 percent is another goal of Sappi North America. In 2015, the company was “negatively impacted” compared to 2014, according to its latest sustainability report. However, this year it was able to get back on track and achieved a 5.8 percent waste reduction, bringing its total reduction to 13 percent over the 2014 baseline.

A big part of waste reduction is moving beyond the 3Rs of reduce, reuse and recycle to circular economy models or sustainable materials management. Sappi North America has several examples of going beyond the 3Rs. It uses construction and demolition wood at its Westbrook facility and tire-derived fuel at its Somerset Mill. At its Cloquet Mill it partners with the University of Minnesota Extension Service to divert boiler ash and lime mud from landfill and use it as a soil amendment.

Photo: Sappi North America