​Company history

Unlocking the power of trees to make everyday more sustainable since 1936

Sappi's story is a tale of how a traditional pulp and paper company has evolved to remain relevant and thrive in a rapidly changing world. It began during the historic moment when South African Pulp and Paper Industries Limited was established on 17 December 1936. Our name was soon abbreviated to 'SA Pulp', which later became known as Sappi. We got our start manufacturing paper from straw at our first mill east of Johannesburg. Today, Sappi is a global diversified woodfibre company focused on providing dissolving pulp, packaging and speciality papers, graphic papers, as well as biomaterials and biochemicals to customers in more than 150 countries.

Graphic paper, best known for use in offices and in glossy magazines, is no longer our only forte. We are also the world leader in the production of dissolving pulp for use in the manufacture of viscose staple fibre (VSF). We are a force to be reckoned with in the global packaging and speciality paper market (ranging from labels to flexible packaging, silicone base paper, liner applications, grease proof paper and the use of release paper as a cast in the production of synthetic leather).

We have also patented a world-first, low-cost process for the production of nanocellulose (cellulose fibres from wood, on an ultra-small nano-level). This is a groundbreaking new scientific field with untapped potential where we are becoming market leaders. Today, we are enthusiastically exploring numerous energy opportunities using biomass as fuel for the zero-carbon, circular economy. 

As the world is changing, so are we. Our journey is one of ongoing, purposeful change to retain our foothold as a world leader and influential market player in our areas of expertise.
Steve Binnie, Chief Executive Officer, Sappi Limited
Our global activity extends to three continents, selling millions of tons of high-quality products to customers all over the world.
There’s much more to Sappi than just paper. Our products find uses in thousands of applications, from paper and packaging to textiles and laminates.

Our senior team members are committed to leading us to success – find out more about their careers and extensive experience.

Discover the values that guide us in our everyday practices, inform our decisions and lead us in our strategic plans for the future.
Technology is at the heart of our business – discover how we’re making breakthroughs and discoveries that enrich lives.

Sappi has almost 12,500 employees in over 20 countries and manufacturing operations on three continents. Learn more about our locations around the world.