Sappi Symbio bio-composite solution chosen to help reduce the environmental impact of motor vehicles

Media Release
Johannesburg, 14 April 2020 

Sappi is proud to announce that its Symbio bio-composite cellulose fibre which is derived from responsibly managed, renewable forests has been chosen as feedstock for the development of lightweight bio-composite materials, for the Life Biobcompo project. The project aims to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions by 8% through the replacement of conventional mineral fillers with bio-based fibres, promote the use of more sustainable resources and demonstrate these technologies at industrial scale.

The project partners are the SAPA Group, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Italy, Centro Ricerche Fiat and the Sòphia High Tech Group.  The bio-composite materials are required to have good thermo-mechanical properties, a high aesthetic value and good dimensional stability. The experience acquired by SAPA on the development of low-density bio-composites for automotive applications, in a previous R&D project, and the cooperation with Sappi have been fundamental for the achievement of the above requirements.

The European LIFE BIOBCOMPO project brings together the long-standing experience of SAPA and FCA in reducing the impact of motor vehicles on the environment including the Alfa Giulia and Fiat 500X models.

By developing light weight bio-composite materials to replace traditional materials in automotive components, the project aims to positively impact the mass of vehicle components and thus reduce the total weight of the car, decreasing significantly the total carbon footprint impact of the emissions.

Commenting on the decision Sappi CEO Steve Binnie said: “Innovation is at the heart of Sappi’s strategy. No growth is possible without innovation. Innovation is not an end in itself, but rather it must provide a sustainable, competitive advantage that will make a significant difference. Sappi has invested heavily to secure our place in the future Industry’s panorama and we are well positioned to take advantages of the future growth opportunities within sustainable Innovation solutions. Biomaterials and biochemicals are integral to Sappi’s strategy of extracting maximum value from wood fibre, our natural and renewable resource. We have taken a significant step towards generating meaningful revenue from this new business segment.”

According to Roberto Fedeli, Managing Director and General Manager of Centro Ricerche Fiat (CRF)- “this is a further step towards an increasingly complete environmental sustainability of FCA vehicles that confirms the activity the group carried out in the last years. I believe that using new materials (lighter, coming from renewable sources and making use of eco-design, i.e. designing a vehicle thinking about the environment in all its aspects, from production to use and final disposal) should represent the development model we must pursue in the coming years.”

Louis Kruyshaar, EVP for Sappi Biotech, explained: “Symbio relies on renewable natural resources and sustainability is at our core.  Sappi Symbio materials deliver the perfect solution that allows freedom of design, high quality products, very low odor and low emissions with a high sustainable agenda. With a haptic feedback- Touch & Feel- Symbio balances rigidity and light weighting to deliver top-notch composites suitable for the new low emission challenges of the automotive world.”

Sappi will be presenting its Symbio product at the upcoming PIAE 2020 trade show to be held in Mannheim, Germany.

Learn more about Sappi Symbio: or

Contact our Symbio sales team on:


Note to editors: the life biobcompo project aims at reducing the environmental footprint of new vehicles through innovative low-density thermoplastic composites derived from renewable (bio-based) sources.

About Sappi Limited

A global leader in dissolving wood pulp and paper-based solutions, Sappi Limited (listed and in the Top 40 on the JSE - SAP), is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa; has over 12,000 employees; manufacturing facilities on three continents, in seven countries (eight operations in Europe, three operations in America and five operations in South Africa) and customers in over 150 countries worldwide
Sappi works closely with customers to provide relevant and sustainable dissolving pulp, paper (speciality, packaging and graphic), paper pulp, and biomaterial products and related services and innovations. Our market-leading range of paper products includes: flexible packaging, label, release liner, containerboard, coated fine papers, casting release papers and in our Southern African region newsprint, uncoated graphic and business papers. These products serve the fashion, FMCG and industrial sectors. Our dissolving pulp products are used worldwide by converters to produce viscose fibre, pharmaceutical products as well as a wide range of household and consumer products.

Sappi drives product innovation and the development of new uses for its renewable resource (woodfibre) as well as for the biomass and other residues from its production processes. One such area is in the field of biomaterials (cellulose composites, nanocellulose and lignins), biochemicals including hemi-cellulose sugars and bio-energy forest products materials which Sappi believes will play a key role in its future range of products, both as commercial products and for applications within Sappi.

We continue to grow into a profitable and cash-generative diversified business with an exciting future in woodfibre, a renewable resource.

Issued by:
on behalf of Sappi Limited
Tel + 27 (0) 11 502 7300

For further information

Matt Spence
Vice-President Biomaterials

Sappi Biotech
Tel +27(0) 11 407 8450
Mobile + 27(0) 83 666 6891

Louis Kruyshaar
Executive Vice President

Sappi Biotech
Tel +27 (0) 11 407 8236
Mobile +27 (0) 82 876 7630

André F Oberholzer
Group Head Corporate Affairs

Sappi Limited
Tel +27 (0)11 407 8044
Mobile +27 (0)83 235 2973