Sappi Packaging & Speciality Paper Blog

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Sustainability – It’s about more than just being "green"

Sappi is a leading global manufacturer and supplier of wood fibre products as well as a pioneer in terms of sustainability. Environmental issues are a top priority for the company, with sustainability of even greater importance.Just being 'green' and focussing on environmental parameters is simply not enough for Sappi. Sustainability also means planning and monitoring the economic factors required to secure long-term commercial success.

There is no question that Sappi puts great emphasis on sustainable production from renewable raw materials and is committed to high recyclability of its products. Responsible use of the environment and natural resources, as well as a sustainable end-to-end production process, are the company's top priority. For Sappi, sustainability starts much earlier in the process, however, and includes additional factors. 

"We see sustainability as a combination of economic, social and environmental responsibility, which we implement across our production and supply chain - from South African plantations through to the European manufacturing sites in Alfeld and Maastricht. We call it the 3 P's: Prosperity, People, Planet," explains Lars Scheidweiler, Product Group Manager Paperboard at Sappi.

Sustainable Operations
With a recently approved investment package, Sappi is reinforcing its vision for a sustainable business operation. A total of 300 million dollars is being invested in various production sites in Europe and in the U.S. The aim is to significantly increase and secure the required capacities and to establish innovations within the speciality packaging sector. Since the autumn of 2017, there has been investment in the Maastricht paperboard production facility, for example. By converting the Maastricht site, Sappi is pursuing a number of goals.

A reliable partner, now and in the future
"Sappi wants to meet the continually growing demand for high-quality Sappi paperboard products and secure the supply of consistent quality," Scheidweiler adds. "We have therefore set up the additional paperboard manufacturing site in Maastricht to operate alongside the Alfeld facility, as this will strengthen our position as a secure and reliable partner for the packaging industry in the long term."

From the second quarter of 2018 onwards, the new GC-1 paperboard Atelier will be produced in Maastricht on a specially converted machine. This folding box creates a new dimension in this market segment with its pure whiteness, silky matt surface and its stability. In addition, Algro Design, the highly successful solid bleached board, will also be manufactured there. This is necessary, as the existing Algro Design production facility at Alfeld is working to full capacity, making Maastricht a backup site for Alfeld and vice versa. Periods of high demand or maintenance-related downtime can thus be compensated for and absorbed by the other plant. This is unique in the market and guarantees our customers a high level of supply reliability.

"With this clear vision and the approved investment package, Sappi is creating profitable growth and commercial success, whilst continually driving future-oriented innovations. Environmental and social responsibility are playing a key role in this, as we understand that our sphere of influence needs to extend beyond the gates of our plants," Scheidweiler explains.

Environmental foundation
Sappi takes an equally vigorous approach when it comes to environmental and social sustainability. "We are living in a world where our natural resources are increasingly under pressure. This is why we want to keep our environmental footprint as small as possible," Scheidweiler says. It is important to Sappi to take a holistic view of the environmental aspect; not only does the procurement of raw materials need to be sustainable, but the production and recyclability does as well. As a result, Sappi has long been committed to monitoring its energy consumption and switching to renewable energies. In addition, all of Sappi's coated fine papers are 100% recyclable. With the high recyclability of its products, Sappi is making a significant contribution towards achieving the goal declared by the European Paper Recycling Council (EPRC) of a paper recycling rate of 74% by 2020. In 2016, the rate was already at 72.5%.

Sappi also supports the reduction of the non-recyclable rate of around 22% of paper consumption. Through R&D into special barrier papers, Sappi is looking to create substitute materials to reduce the use of PE and metallised papers.

Many are just talking about the environment - Sappi is taking action. This is why Sappi has joined the "Paper Profile" initiative, an international alliance of paper manufacturers, where profiles of individual types of paper and paperboard are held according to agreed standards. The profiles provide detailed information about the water and energy consumption of each product, for instance.

People create success
It is the people and employees in our local plants who are making a difference, which is why 'people' are embodied as the third 'P' in our sustainability principles.

Looking at production facilities such as those in southern Africa, the company's founding site, for example, clearly demonstrates that Sappi's forests and plantations provide economic prospects for the local population. Sappi supports the funding of roads and infrastructures, including infirmaries and schools; creates employment; and offers job prospects to local younger generations with its training programmes. There is great emphasis on using local staff and service provider in every region that we operate within.

With its corporate citizenship programmes, Sappi also gets involved with socio-economic development in the various communities in which it operates. Internally, the company is greatly concerned with the welfare of its employees. Pulp and paper production carries several inherent safety risks and the safety of our staff is naturally Sappi's no. 1 priority. In our view, a healthy and diverse working environment that provides opportunities for continual development, increases productivity and our ability to service global markets.


The three pillars of sustainability
This combination of economic, social and environmental responsibility forms our three pillars of sustainability - Prosperity, People, Planet.

They ensure that Sappi is, and remains, a strong and reliable partner.