Forest certification and holistic sourcing in North America

We responsibly source woodfibre to ensure that the millions of hectares of forestland we rely on remain healthy today and tomorrow.

At Sappi we believe that responsible manufacturing begins with responsible procurement. It’s paramount that our natural resources are used sustainably. Wood provides renewable energy for our mills and cellulose fibres comprise the primary ingredient in our dissolving pulp, graphic and specialty papers, packaging products and biorefinery solutions. 

Healthy and abundant forests are critical to Sappi's sustainability of ultimately our customers' business too. Sappi’s Due Diligence System (DDS) ensures that the woodfibre we procure originates from responsibly managed forests and avoids controversial sources. Our Global Woodfibre Procurement Policy and Sappi North America’s Sustainable Forestry Policy guide our procurement operations. 

Leveraging forestry certification systems

Forest certification is a well-established and important tool that enables conscious consumers to choose responsibly sourced, wood-based products. It provides assurances that the woodfibre used to manufacture our products originates from responsibly managed forests, was legally harvested in accordance with sound ecological practices, and that social aspects such as indigenous peoples’ rights have been taken into account. These certification systems recognise that sustainably managed forests make vital contributions to economic, environmental and social life. 

The Chain-of-custody (CoC) certification, for instance, provides a mechanism for tracking certified material from the forest to the final product. CoC product claims are only valid if each link in the supply chain, meaning each commercial entity that takes legal ownership of the material/product, is certified. Independent third-party accredited certification bodies conduct annual CoC audits to verify that an entity’s wood flow accounting system conforms to the applicable CoC standards. 

Multiple certification systems exist as options for forest products, including the:

  • Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC)
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) programme
  • Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) 

Sappi’s U.S.-based paper and packaging mills (Cloquet, Somerset and Westbrook) are triple certified in accordance with the leading sustainable forestry CoC certification systems: FSC® (FSC-C014955), SFI® and PEFC (PEFC/29-31-10).

The Cloquet and Somerset mills are also certified under the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard for wood procurement operations. Sappi’s Matane Mill in Quebec is a high-quality, high-yield bleached chemi-thermo mechanical pulp (BCTMP). It’s FSC (FSC-C151943) and PEFC (PEFC/26-31-135) CoC certified. 

Sappi also promotes certification to the Canadian Standards Association™ (CSA) and American Tree Farm System® (ATFS) Standards (Note that SFI, CSA™ and ATFS® Forest Management standards are recognised by PEFC). 

We are proud to be associated with these organisations and their efforts to enhance sustainable forestry. Our goal is to offer customers a wide array of products that are certified by at least one independently credible, third-party forestry certification system. 

Responding to the limited supply of certified fibre 

North America is home to over one-third of the FSC-certified land globally and over half of the world’s PEFC-certified land. Approximately 20 percent of U.S. timberlands are third-party certified, with the percentage of uncertified forests largely comprised of private (often small holders) and federal ownership where the costs and process of administering forest management certification are overly burdensome. 

The only certification programme that has experienced consistent growth in acres certified since 2010 is SFI. Yet, even after more than 25 years only about 11% of the world’s forests are certified, with the amount of certified forest varying significantly by country and region.

Since Sappi doesn’t own any forests in North America, we’re fully dependent on outside suppliers for wood. That’s why we work so hard to promote the increased use of certified woodfibre throughout our supply and value chains. Yet certification is expensive and at times not financially viable for small, private landowners.

Blending fibre responsibly 

As a result, nearly all supply chains use a blend of certified and uncertified fibre. To maintain the highest levels of assurance without CoC claims, the leading global standards have instituted additional control measures for fibre from uncertified lands (SFI has the Fibre Sourcing Standard and FSC the Controlled Wood Standard). Both standards are separate from CoC standards and require avoidance of controversial sources. 

Sappi suppliers must provide evidence that all woodfibre is sourced from controlled, non-controversial sources. We can attest that 100 percent of our woodfibre comes from well-managed forests, at low risk of any controversial sources. Additionally, Sappi implements rigorous tracing practices to confirm and document the origin of wood fibre. Sappi does not use woodfibre from endangered tropical forests. All products manufactured and distributed (or sold) by Sappi are compliant with the U.S. Lacey Act and European Timber Regulations (EUTR).