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Championing sustainable forestry and eco-effective operations

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Our actions in forests and our mills can combat some of the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges, especially climate change.

That’s why we act as champions for sustainable forestry—working to keep forestland forested for generations to come. And not just in Sappi forests and plantations, but also in those maintained by our suppliers around the world.  

At our mills, we're on a continuous journey to reduce waste and maximise material and resource use at every opportunity. These 'eco-effective' operations help accelerate the transition to the biobased, circular economy our planet demands.

Our PLANET targets

Our PLANET targets
Clean Water and Sanitation

Achieve 15% reduction in specific water use in water-stressed locations

Responsible Consumption and Production

Achieve 14% reduction in specific landfilled solid waste

#15 - Life on Land

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Life on Land

Greater than 10% improvement in biodiversity in Sappi’s conservation areas

Affordable and Clean Energy

Achieve 5% reduction in specific total energy

#13 - Climate Action

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Climate Action

Achieve 17% reduction in specific GHG emissions (scope 1+2 combined)

Partnerships for the Goals

Build and activate mutually beneficial partnerships

Affordable and Clean Energy

Achieve 9% points increase in share of renewable and clean energy

#15 - Life on Land

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Life on Land

Greater than 75% share of certified fibre

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Keeping forestland forested

Keeping forestland forested

We practise and promote sustainable forestry to ensure that forestland stays forested for generations to come.

At Sappi, we act as stewards of forestlands together with our suppliers. Our policies and practices aim to ensure that forests and plantations are expertly tended, harvested and most importantly, regenerated for healthy regrowth.  

We practise sustainable forest management on our land because it ensures clean air and water, protects biodiversity, and defends against climate change, amongst many other critical benefits.  

We use forest certification to validate our forest management practices and those of our suppliers. With rigorous standards and third-party verification, these systems ensure that forests are well-managed and our use of woodfibre does not jeopardise the forest.

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Forests are the solution
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Forests are the solution

Forests hold solutions for so many pressing global challenges. We need ambitious, collective action to reverse deforestation and forest degradation. In forests and with our fibre-based products, we are working to scale up more nature-based solutions. Read more in our FAQs: Forests Matter.

Creating value in forests

Forests grow on land that in many regions is increasingly under competition for use in farming, ranching and other land uses. By providing a dependable market for responsibly grown fibre, we encourage landowners to manage their forestland instead of selling it for development or other non-forest uses. This investment keeps forests healthy and continuously growing for generations to come.

Forest growth

European forests grew by 58,390 square kilometres between 2005 and 2020 – that’s an area bigger than Switzerland.

Low deforestation

Deforestation in Canada is among the world’s lowest at 0.02% of its forested area. The key causes of deforestation in Canada are not forestry, but rather urbanisation, agriculture and energy developments.

Forest expansion

Forests expanded in the US from 746 million to 766 million acres (2.6%) between 1990 and 2015. This is equivalent to an average growth rate of 1,660 NFL fields per day.

 

Rural uplift programmes

In South Africa, Sappi has pioneered programmes that uplift rural areas through sustainable forestry without harvesting indigenous trees.

Enhancing livelihoods and communities

Our practices ensure far more than healthy forests. They enhance lives and uplift communities by:

  • Influencing responsible land-use decisions 
  • Supporting rural community development 
  • Providing smallholders with market opportunities and management assistance 
  • Spurring investment in forestry research 
  • Promoting biodiversity 
  • Conserving soil and water resources 

Well-managed forests with Sappi also play a vital role in carbon sequestration which prevents and mitigates climate change.

Global 2025 Sappi Targets (FY19 Baseline)
Partnerships for the Goals

Build and activate mutually beneficial partnerships

#15 - Life on Land

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Life on Land

Greater than 10% improvement in biodiversity in Sappi’s conservation areas

#15 - Life on Land

Sust Goal Icon
Life on Land

Greater than 75% share of certified fibre

Related Planet Story - Keeping Forests Forested - NA

Related Planet Story - Keeping Forests Forested - NA
North America

Sourcing responsibly from nature

Sourcing responsibly from nature

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

We source our woodfibre  from well-managed forests and strive to continually increase the share from certified forests. We require all suppliers to provide evidence that  woodfibre  is at a minimum from controlled and non-controversial sources.  We do not accept  woodfibre  from illegally logged forests or from forests where high conservation values are threatened by management activities.  

Our strict Group Woodfibre Procurement Policy ensures rigorous tracing practices and origin documentation for all  woodfibre  in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC™) Controlled Wood Standard, as well as the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), and in the United States, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) risk-based Due Diligence systems.   

We constantly seek to increase our use of certified wood by supporting landowners and wood suppliers to implement these standards. 

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About our Woodfibre Procurement Policy

Our Group Woodfibre Procurement Policy ensures that we source woodfibre that:    

  • Complies with all applicable legal and regulatory obligations in the countries from which it originates
  • Comes from forests that respect the customary, traditional or civil rights of people
  • Is procured from forestry and manufacturing operations where health and safety requirements are upheld
  • Maintains critical, unique attributes within officially designated high-conservation-value areas where applicable 
  • Avoids areas knowingly converted from forests to non-forest uses
  • Does not come from commercial timber plantations converted from natural forests after 1994, and
  • Is not genetically modified.

Tree species identified as endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are neither utilised nor imported. We comply with the US Lacey Act, EU Timber Regulation, Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation and other regional legality requirements.

Causing zero deforestation

We neither harvest nor buy woodfibre that originates from tropical natural forests. With our Group Woodfibre Procurement Policy, our sourcing causes zero deforestation because we:

  • Know the origin of our woodfibre 
  • Ensure that suppliers implement practices to promptly regenerate forests post-harvest, which is required under the global forest certification standards that Sappi is committed to uphold, and
  • Implement our Group Supplier Code of Conduct to assess supply-chain, ethical and legal risks, and not source from suppliers associated with deforestation.
Partnerships for the Goals

Build and activate mutually beneficial partnerships

#15 - Life on Land

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Life on Land

Greater than 75% share of certified fibre

Related Planet Story - Sourcing Responsibly - NA

Related Planet Story - Sourcing Responsibly - NA
North America

Becoming more eco-effective

Becoming more eco-effective

With innovation and ingenuity, we're making our mills eco-effective—reducing waste, emissions and maximising material and resource use at every opportunity. 

Transforming woodfibre into the paper products that people rely on every day is an energy-intensive process. With eco-effective actions big and small, Sappi mills worldwide are reducing their environmental footprints and turning waste into new resources. We have ambitious targets and commitments in place and continuously monitor and report our performance.  

Together with our partners, we’re accelerating the transition to the low-carbon, circular economy by:

  • cutting greenhouse gas emissions

  • integrating more renewable energy

  • improving energy efficiency 

  • reducing our water consumption, and

  • reducing waste sent to landfill.

Our culture at Sappi is built to realise the full potential of responsibility in our everyday operations. Our management systems are best in class with expert teams committed to continuous improvement in all aspect of performance. Our many third-party certifications are the proof of our promise.

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Investing in renewable energy

Black liquor, a byproduct created during pulp production, is a biofuel and the primary renewable fuel source used to generate steam and power in our integrated pulp and paper mills. It’s a great example of how we turn waste into new resources while reducing our reliance on fossil-based fuels. Today, we even sell green electricity from some locations into the local grid. Learn more about black liquor.

Decarbonisation remains a top priority at our mills. We’re working towards further integration of renewable energy and increased energy efficiency to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve climate neutrality by 2050, we’re co-investigating a range of technologies to radically change today’s pulp and paper-making processes and energy systems. Learn more about decarbonisation with Sappi.

Global 2025 Sappi Targets (FY19 Baseline)
Partnerships for the Goals

Build and activate mutually beneficial partnerships

Clean Water and Sanitation

Achieve 15% reduction in specific water use in water-stressed locations

Affordable and Clean Energy

Achieve 5% reduction in specific total energy

#13 - Climate Action

Sust Goal Icon
Climate Action

Achieve 17% reduction in specific GHG emissions (scope 1+2 combined)

Affordable and Clean Energy

Achieve 9% points increase in share of renewable and clean energy

Responsible Consumption and Production

25 new products launched with defined sustainability benefits

Related Planet Story - Becoming More Eco-Effective - NA

Related Planet Story - Becoming More Eco-Effective - NA
North America

Working as water stewards

Working as water stewards

We act as responsible stewards of water resources, reducing our water consumption and improving the quality of water we return to the environment. 

Water is vital to all life, and especially to our business. Water not only nourishes trees but is used to make pulp and paper, generate steam power and do so much more in our mills. That’s why we take so seriously our role as responsible water stewards in the regions where we live and work. 

We're focused on eco-effective actions that can reduce our water consumption and improve the quality of treated water we return to the environment. By collaborating with the communities where we operate, we strive to improve the long-term sustainability of the water resources we all share.

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Water in mills

  • All our mills use and treat water in accordance with comprehensive environmental permits. 
  • In water-scarce locations, we take extra measures to make consumption more eco-effective. 
  • In North America, our mills use the elemental chlorine-free (ECF) bleaching process.
  • In Europe, all our integrated pulp is totally chlorine-free (TCF). Market pulp is either ECF or TCF.
  • In South Africa, our mills use ECF sequences that incorporate ozone and/or oxygen bleaching stages.
Water on land

  • Regulating drainage and minimising erosion, which prevents runoff into streams and rivers. 
  • Planning and constructing roads to prevent erosion and ensure water runoff is not directed straight into rivers. 
  • Ensuring runoff after harvesting is kept to a minimum, including leaving harvesting residue on the ground and ensuring that the correct harvesting and extraction methods are used. 
  • Using fertiliser only once in each rotation, and short-lived pesticides that have little or no impact on downstream ecosystems. 
  • We breed trees for drought resistance and match tree species to the unique water qualities of sites. 
  • Our plantations require no irrigation at all, using only rainwater and groundwater. 
Global 2025 Sappi Targets (FY19 Baseline)
Partnerships for the Goals

Build and activate mutually beneficial partnerships

Clean Water and Sanitation

Achieve 15% reduction in specific water use in water-stressed locations

Related Planet Story - Working as Water Stewards - NA

Related Planet Story - Working as Water Stewards - NA
North America

Acting on climate change

Acting on climate change

By reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and scaling up nature-based solutions, we´re increasingly part of the solution to climate change.

The world needs urgent action to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees. The trees in forests capture and store carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases causing climate change. By keeping forestland forested, forests can continue serving as the lungs of the planet—providing clean air to breathe and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

On the plantations under our watch, we're pioneering climate-smart forestry practices. From conducting investigations with satellite imagery to planting more resilient hybrid species and implementing fire protection strategies, we're at the front lines. With our nature-based solutions, we're replacing fossil-based materials. This is another powerful way that we can act on climate change.

 

By becoming eco-effective in our global operations, we're also working to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We have committed to the Science Based Targets* initiative and are actively mapping out our decarbonisation pathways across the business. We track our global emissions and disclose them annually in our Group Sustainability Report as well as in numerous programmes, including the:

• EU Emissions Trading System 

• Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)

• US Environmental Protection Agency’s Mandatory Reporting Rule

*Science Based Targets is a collaboration with the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). 

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Forests mitigate climate change
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Forests mitigate climate change

We continually monitor and review forest best practices in light of changing environmental factors, helping to mitigate any increased threat from water shortages or drought.

Forests mitigate climate change 1
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Climate change investigations determine which plantations are most at risk, and identify which climatic variables are likely to change, as well as the magnitude and direction of such change. This shapes our planting plan.

 

Modelled future climate data helps us to produce and select the most optimally suited hybrid varieties for each climatic zone. 

 

Forests mitigate climate change 2
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The use of satellite imagery focused on rapidly detecting and reacting to damage (drought, pests, diseases) to our plantations enables quick response to any change.

Forests mitigate climate change 3
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We annually measure approximately 500 permanent sample plots. This information gives us real-time estimates of growth rates. This allows us to react quickly to any decline that may be observed.

Forests mitigate climate change 4
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Maintaining a broad genetic base facilitates response to new challenges such as pests, disease and climate change while providing continuous genetic improvement over the long term.

 

We are replacing pure species with hybrids that are less sensitive to changes in temperature. Our tree breeding division has a target of developing a hybrid varietal solution for all our sites by 2025. 

Forests mitigate climate change 5
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Implementing an extensive fire protection strategy is essential, as climate change exacerbates the potential for fires.

Forests mitigate climate change 6
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The forests and plantations from which we source woodfibre help mitigate global warming by acting as carbon sinks.

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  1. Atmospheric carbon is fixed by trees and other vegetation through photosynthesis.
  2. Some carbon is internally transferred from above ground to below ground carbon soils.
  3. Fallen leaves and branches add carbon to soils.
    Below ground carbon: roots, litter.
    Soil carbon: organic, inorganic.
  1. Some carbon is transferred from below ground carbon (for example root mortality) to the soils.
  2. Carbon is transferred to the atmosphere through soil respiration.
  3. Above ground carbon is stored in stems, branches and foliage.
  4. Oxygen is released through respiration.
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"We need healthy ecosystems to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to address climate change: they can provide 37% of the mitigation needed to limit global temperature rise."

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António Guterres
United Nations Secretary-General,
International Day of Biodiversity 2019

Global 2025 Sappi Targets (FY19 Baseline)

#13 - Climate Action

Sust Goal Icon
Climate Action

Achieve 17% reduction in specific GHG emissions (scope 1+2 combined)

Related Planet Story - Acting on Climate Change - NA

Related Planet Story - Acting on Climate Change - NA
North America

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