Responsible 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.

Sappi North America is committed to responsible sourcing and holistic sustainability for the planet, people and our shared prosperity. We source woodfibre from well-managed forests, at low risk of any controversial sources, in ways that comply with all applicable local, state, regional, national and international laws.

We understand that healthy, robust, well-managed forests support community well-being, provide a haven for wildlife, protect watersheds, and play a critical role in the carbon sequestration cycle. We view responsible sourcing of fibre as critical to create value in standing forests and avoid conversion of forests to other uses.

Ensuring a rigorous process

To ensure that the woodfibre used in Sappi’s products avoids controversial sources and complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the country of harvest, Sappi implements a rigorous three-step Due Diligence System (DDS) that involves gathering information, assessing risk and mitigating risk. Sappi’s DDS and risk-assessment are carried out for all suppliers and sub-suppliers of woodfibre raw material, based on indicators that determine risk at both origin and supply-chain levels. We maintain procedural manuals and work instructions to guide specific procurement operations and roles and set supplier qualification expectations.

We are proud of our approach to responsible sourcing and our commitment to maintaining our chain-of-custody (CoC) certifications according to leading global forestry certification systems: the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) program, the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®), and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Our Cloquet, Somerset, Westbrook and Matane Mills are FSC® (FSC-C014955) and PEFC (PEFC/29-31-10) CoC certified. Sappi North America's Cloquet and Somerset mills are also certified to the SFI® CoC standard and the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard for wood procurement operations.

The FSC Controlled Wood and SFI Fiber Sourcing standards are detailed and complex, so it is important to understand the level of effort and care that goes into implementing and conforming to these important standards.

For instance, all woodfibre used in Sappi’s U.S.-based paper and packaging mills must meet the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard which goes beyond avoidance of controversial sources by also requiring landowner outreach; use of qualified resource and qualified logging professionals; investment in forest research; biodiversity conservation, as well as adherence to best management practices.

Meeting the FSC Controlled Wood Standard

Sappi only sources woodfibre that meets the requirements of the FSC Controlled Wood Standard, which has undergone significant changes in recent years. As defined by FSC, controversial sources include woodfibre from: 

  • Illegally harvested wood
  • Wood harvested in violation of traditional and human rights
  • Wood from forests in which high conservation values (HCVs) are threatened by management activities
  • Wood from natural forests being converted to non-forest use or conversion of natural forests to plantations after 1994
  • Wood from forests where genetically modified trees are planted

A foundational part of FSC’s Controlled Wood strategy and approach to due diligence relies on the development and application of FSC Controlled Wood Risk Assessments to evaluate the frequency of occurrence and risk severity of controversial sources within an entity’s wood basket. If “specified risk”, as opposed to “low risk,” is identified, FSC-certificate holders are required to implement control measures to mitigate for identified risks.

For many years, FSC-certified entities were required to develop and conduct their own risk assessments. In 2019, FSC approved and published national risk assessments (NRAs) for the United States and Canada. As a company certified to the FSC CoC and Controlled Wood Standard, Sappi is required to incorporate the results of the NRAs into our DDS and implement control measures, directly or in coordination with suppliers, for any specified risks within our woodbaskets in the U.S. and Canada. 

Results in the United States

Within the United States, all of our operations and supply areas are considered low risk across all five Controlled Wood Standard risk categories. This is confirmed by the results of our finalised NRAs. Therefore, no additional mitigation or control measures are necessary to avoid controversial sources in the U.S. 

Results in Canada

For Canadian sources, the NRA indicates a mixture of low risk and ‘specified risk’ for the regions from which we source wood and woodchips. Accordingly, we implement specific control measures to avoid and mitigate the risk of controversial sources in our operations and those of our suppliers. Details of our sourcing areas and control measures are available in our FSC Controlled Wood DDS Public Summary Report.

Overall low risk in North America

Sappi is fortunate to work in regions where the risk of controversial sources is very low relative to other parts of the world. However, this can’t all be attributed to good fortune. For years, landowners, foresters and biologists, loggers, wood procuring mills, local communities, and society at large have been equally committed to the sustainable management of North America’s natural resources. 

Sappi is proud of the recognition from our certification auditor in 2019 regarding our successful Lake States Forestry team, yet another example of Sappi’s positive influence on the environment and communities where we work. Most recently, during Sappi’s 2020 certification audits, we were noted for genuinely living out our values and promises, as opposed to simply “talking the talk.” To quote the auditor: “Sustainability truly is who we are and it is obviously engrained in Sappi culture at all levels.”