Environmental responsibility

Recognising that we live in a world where natural resources are under increasing pressure, we aim to lighten our environmental footprint through a far-reaching environmental management approach which includes:

  • Minimising the environmental impact of our operations in terms of raw materials and energy use.
  • Developing new production methods and products and finding innovative new ways of beneficiating waste.
  • Saving water and energy at every stage in production processes. This begins in our South African plantations, where we apply best practice management. techniques to produce woodfibre with properties that allow it to be pulped using less energy and water.
  • Ongoing investment in research and development.
  • Monitoring environmental performance and legal compliance at each mill, by constantly assessing our performance in terms of energy dashboards, integrated water and waste management plans, air emissions, and effluent.
  • Taking appropriate, pre-emptive action to avoid or mitigate identified environmental risks.
  • Ensuring that we keep up with environmental best practice through an internal environmental ‘cluster’ comprised of experts in various fields   
  • Having environmental targets in place in each region. Progress in achieving targets is reported to the management teams in each region on a regular basis, quarterly to the Global Sustainable Development Council and to the Social, Ethics, Transformation and Sustainability Committee biannually. We also report transparently on progress—or lack thereof—in our Group Sustainability Report.
  • Using internationally recognised, independently verified certification systems including the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC™), the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification™ (PEFC™) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) (woodfibre); as well as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and, in Europe: EMAS (Eco Management and Audit System) and ISO 50001 in Europe and South Africa.
  • In terms of biodiversity we ensure that the plantations and forests which provide us with woodfibre are actively managed to enhance these beneficial biotic ('biotic' factors in an ecosystem are the living things that affect other living things in that ecosystem) processes and restrict harmful processes like pests and disease. Neither our own plantations in South Africa nor the forests in Europe and North America from which we source woodfibre would be productive without biotic processes taking place. These processes play a vital role in ensuring the health and vitality of trees in terms of decomposition, soil rejuvenation and pest control.
  • Approximately 30% of the land that we own and lease in South Africa is permanently unplanted and actively managed for the conservation of the natural habitats (including indigenous forests) and the biodiversity they contain. Our strategies for managing biodiversity include: • Managing natural vegetation according to best practice in terms of burning, grazing and weed control to ensure health habitats • Ongoing assessment and monitoring of veld condition • Protection of sites from poaching, illegal medicinal plant collection and overgrazing • Participation in the national stewardship programme through which we have six declared nature reserves. • Long-term integrated weed management plans on all our plantations - invasive alien plants (IAPs) are widely considered as a major threat to biodiversity, human livelihoods and economic development.

We are advantaged by the fact that our primary raw material is woodfibre, a renewable, recyclable natural resource. The sustainably managed forests and plantations from which we source woodfibre are essential to a healthy environment, sustaining vital plants and wildlife, filtering our water and air, and reducing greenhouse gases by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Forests cover some 30 per cent of our planet’s land area and are home to 80 per cent of all terrestrial species. The ecosystem services they provide to humanity range from purifying air and water to producing foods, medicines and wood and paper products. Forests sustain essential watersheds and influence the global climate and rainfall patterns.
António Guterres, United Nations Secretary General, message on the International Day of Forests 2020
We hold ourselves accountable to global sustainability best practice standards by transparently measuring, monitoring and communicating our economic, social and environmental performance.
Our ability to deliver value creation for our shareholders by focusing on improved profitability, strategic positioning and debt reduction lies at the heart of our commitment to sustainability.
Active corporate citizenship programmes relevant to the needs of the communities where we operate ensure that we promote socio-economic development within these communities, thereby aligning with our strategy of shared value.