Transforming tomorrow today

Transforming tomorrow today

Our solutions have changed the industry and sustainability standards globally.

Since Sappi’s inception, we have been using our expertise to help create a sustainable future, challenge the status quo and meet the needs of a growing and changing society. We collaborate with our partners to transform the future with innovative, bio-based, and renewable materials and meet the needs of tomorrow today.

Milestones on our innovation journey

Our manufacturing operations on three continents have diverse origins (1706 in Europe, 1872 in North America and 1936 in South Africa) and competencies. However, they share a commitment to developing breakthrough technology that enables us to develop the best products for our customers while evolving to suit their changing needs.

Throughout our history, we have secured a number of patents for key developments and devised a number of industry firsts, including:


  • Symbio, our bio-composite cellulose fibre, is chosen as feedstock for the development of lightweight bio-composite materials in the European Life Biobcompo project which aims to reduce the environmental footprint of new vehicles.
  • We commercialise our Sappi Valida nanocellulose for use as an opacifier and thickener in sanitising gels, providing a natural alternative for acrylate-based polymers and microplastics.


  • The biomass power plant at Ngodwana Mill (South Africa) in which we have a 30% stake, begins construction—confirming our commitment to promoting renewable and clean energy.

    Milestones on our innovation journey

  • Circularity in action—we pilot the use and manufacture of fuel rods, comprising a mixture of waste coal slurry (from discarded coal fines), biomass and lignosulphonate.


  • We establish a new business unit, Sappi Biotech, tasked with accelerating our response to consumer trends for renewable products with a low carbon footprint, continuing to innovate in new growth segments and taking global responsibility for the commercialisation of new products.


  • We acquire the barrier film technology of Rockwell Solutions, a move which enables us to offer our customers an even wider range of barrier coated solutions.
  • We construct a sugar extraction demonstration plant at Ngodwana Mill (South Africa) targeting ‘second generation’ sugars which are attractive because they do not compete with first-generation sugars sourced from agricultural crops.


  • We launch Sappi Seal—the world’s first innovative speciality paper with a mineral barrier and heat sealing properties integrated directly into the paper.
  • In conjunction with Intertek, we develop a composite called Sappi Symbio which is based on cellulose fibres found in trees and polypropylene. Cellulose fibres can significantly increase the rigidity of plastic despite keeping weight low, simultaneously giving the material renewable properties. Higher rigidity also means a potentially lower carbon footprint, as fewer materials are used.


  • We construct a plant for the production of nanocellulose in the Netherlands, using our patented process which does not require significant energy inputs. What's more, the chemicals used in the process can be recycled easily and reused without generating large amounts of effluent.

    Milestones on our innovation journey


  • We develop innovative web curing technology for textured laminates, allowing thicker substrates to be utilised and enabling the production of a wider variety of finished products.


  • We patent texturing powder coatings for metal surfaces, thereby expanding the range of colours and textures we can offer our customers.
  • We create Mokka technology to create a finely engraved release paper feature which provides extraordinary hand feel and natural-worn softness to synthetic leathers.


  • We patent improved calender roll rotary joint technology, thereby enhancing manufacturing efficiency.


  • We develop co-pulping technology and introduce Somerset Synergy, based on a mixture of hard- and softwood to produce a pulp that promotes optimal runnability in pulp and paper mills and offers improved finished product attributes.


  • We introduce advanced online calendering method with our Substrata Thermal Moulding patent, combining the process advantages of gloss calendering with the quality advantages of supercalendering.


  • We develop Ultracast® casting release paper which captures 100% of the intended texture without relying on mechanical embossing of soft thermoplastic films.

    Milestones on our innovation journey


  • We develop high solids blade coating technology which enhances production efficiency.


  • We introduce Warrenflo, the first high bulk to weight coated paper—the lower weight paper is ideal for direct mail, books and catalogues as it reduces mailing costs.


  • We pioneer sapoxal bleaching, a more environmentally-friendly bleaching process in an industry first, which has now become a world standard.


  • We develop and patent the automatic finishing machine for sheeting paper and stacking inline, enhancing speed and efficiency.


  • We develop inline resilient roll calendering to enhance finishing uniformity.

    Milestones on our innovation journey


  • We manufacture the first commercial alkaline paper (also known as acid-free) paper. Significant advantages include longer life span and enhanced brightness, whiteness and opacity.
  • We patent and license the use of synthetic elastomers (latexes) in paper coatings to give a smoother finish and enhance printability.


  • We produce the first cast-coated paper with a high gloss, reflective surface on one side and an uncoated reverse, which help goods in the luxury packaging market stand out on shelf.


  • We launch the first double-coated (two layers) printing paper which gives enhanced ink absorption and a higher finish.

    Milestones on our innovation journey


  • We are the first user of synthetic latex as a paper coating binder, thereby enhancing cost efficiencies.


  • We produce the first release paper for plastics—it imparts a pleasant hand feel and is durable.


  • We introduce the first wet-strength paper for military maps, meaning they can now be used in all types of weather.


  • We develop the air knife coating principle for paper which achieves a uniform coating layer and minimises breakage during coating.


  • We patent a wood pulping process which increases fibre yield and reduces material and energy consumption.

    Milestones on our innovation journey

  • We launch the first branded paper, setting ourselves apart as a leader in our field.


  • We launch the first machine-made, two-side coated, commercial printing paper, bringing down costs and making printed material more freely accessible.


  • We produce the first machine coated paper (one-side coated) which has better reflectivity than uncoated paper and also give sharper, brighter images when used in printing.

    Milestones on our innovation journey


  • Our invention of the sand filter to clarify the water in the papermaking process leads to fewer impurities and higher quality paper.

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We look forward to touching base with you about product availability, partnerships, and more.