Closing raw material loops

The circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to gradually decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources. For many years now, we have been moving away from the 'take-make-waste' linear model to align with this approach.

Circular economy


Re-using non-solid waste

Oil is de-watered, chemically treated, refined and filtered for re-use in various grades of base oils. Partly Sappi-patented processes at Alfeld and Ehingen Mills in Germany help to increase material efficiency. Coarse pigments from repulping internal broke are recovered from paper machine effluent and reprocessed to substitute virgin material. In addition, coating colour is also recovered from effluent and reprocessed. 

Re-using solid waste

  • Globally, bark is used as a fuel for onsite energy generation. In South Africa, it’s also used for composting and landfill stabilisation.
  • In Europe, dried sludge is used for animal bedding by farmers and as fertiliser.
  • At some mills, tall oil (a by-product of the kraft pulping process) is sold to converters as a renewable chemical raw material and used to make detergents, lubricants and paint additives.
  • In North America, lime and boiler ash is provided to farmers as a soil enhancer through a partnership with the University of Minnesota Extension Service, Carlton County By-Products Programme.
  • Bagasse (sugar cane waste residue) supplied to Stanger Mill in South Africa is depithed, and the pith given to farmers as a soil enhancer.
  • At Saiccor Mill and Lomati Sawmill in South Africa, we’re assessing the possibility of extruding sawdust and binding it with lignin to form fuel rods, which would be used for energy, replacing coal.
  • Sappi’s Shared Services Centre in South Portland (Maine) reduces waste to landfill and donates its compost to local community gardens and other non-profit organisations. The centre has sent 27,215 kilograms of organic waste for composting since 2016.

Using less resources

Through in-house lean updates and internal brainstorming, Ehingen Mill in Germany reduced the amount of wrapping film used to cover pallets of paper for shipment. By lowering film thickness and optimising the wrapping processes in the finishing department, the mill reduced the amount of film used to pack paper pallets reading for shipping. The mill also introduced simple measures like cutting the protective wrapping film more precisely. This has saved 35.4 tons of film per year and reduced the volume of eventual waste for customers, without compromising pallet protection.