Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
Background Given the high energy intensive nature of our industry, the cost and availability of energy is a key consideration for the pulp and paper industry.
Energy self-sufficiency (%)
We leverage the significant opportunities inherent in our business and processes to help us reduce energy usage and impact:
- Using a high proportion of renewable energy as a fuel source, most of it self-generated in the form of black liquor
- Operating combined heat and power (CHP) plants in many of our mills. These plants not only generate electricity but also heat, which is used at the paper machines to dry the paper. Such efficiencies mean our CHP units are twice as energy efficient as conventional power plants
- Improving the energy efficiency of our mills, and
- Selling surplus electricity from Alfeld, Ehingen, Gratkorn, Maastricht and Stockstadt Mills in SEU; Cloquet, Somerset and Westbrook Mills in SNA and Ngodwana Mill in SSA.
We track purchased energy costs as a percentage of cost of sales to assess whether we are succeeding in this regard. In 2018, globally energy costs in relation to cost of sales remained stable, largely due to reduced global energy costs in SEU which offset the sharp increase in SSA.
Purchased energy costs as a percentage of cost of sales.
Our focus is on reducing externally purchased power to reduce costs and also on reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Over time, we have slowly but steadily reduced our use of purchased energy (electricity and fossil fuel) and also reduced specific energy intensity. Globally, over five years, energy self-sufficiency has increased by 5.6%.
In addition, we have increased our use of renewable energy―an approach which ultimately results in a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and has positive economic implications. Our use of renewable energy in 2018 was 46.8%, of which 71.5% was own black liquor. This not only help to reduce GHG emissions, but also separates our operations from the volatility of energy prices. We are committed to increased use of renewable energy, but we are constrained by own black liquor availability which is our main renewable fuel source.
Reduction of specific energy consumption (GJ/adt)
1 Specific total energy (STE).
Background Forestry and mill Chain of Custody certification assures consumers that the forest products they buy originate from legally harvested and sustainably managed forests and plantations.
With only 10% of the world’s forests certified, we work hard to expand our certified woodfibre basket and have targets in each region, as well as a global target in place to achieve this. Globally, 75.2% of fibre supplied to our mills is certified.
In SEU, all mills are FSC®- and PEFC™-certified. In SNA, Sappi includes fibre sourced from the Certified Logging Professional and Maine Master Logger programmes. Cloquet, Westbrook and Somerset Mills are FSC-, SFI®- and PEFC Chain of Custody-certified. We source only from controlled, non-controversial sources and 100% of wood and pulp is purchased in according with the SFI Certified Sourcing Standard. The standards we use are a critical element of Sappi’s due diligence for Lacey Act compliance. In South Africa, 100% of Sappi’s owned and managed plantations are FSC-FM-certified, while Ngodwana, Saiccor, Stanger and Tugela Mills and Lomati Sawmill are FSC Chain of Custody-certified.
In SSA, we recognised that we needed to obtain certification over and above the FSC Group Scheme certification, based on the difficulty of getting small growers certified and on customers’ requests for PEFC labelled products. PEFC endorses national certification schemes, which meant South Africa had to develop a new certification scheme including a forest management standard. This is now known as the South African Forest Assurance Scheme (SAFAS). We await the finalisation of our SAFAS certification and as soon as PEFC endorses SAFAS, we will be able to label our woodfibre as being PEFC-certified.
Background The fifth IPCC assessment report indicates that each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data, as calculated by a linear trend, show a warming of 0.85 (0.65 to 1.06) °C over the period 1880 to 2012. Anthropogenic GHG emissions have increased since the pre-industrial era to levels that are unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Their effects, together with those of other anthropogenic drivers, have been detected throughout the climate system and are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The effects of climate change are already noticeable in changing weather patterns.
In 2018, there were record high temperatures in Europe. There were also major wildfires in northern England, Sweden and Greece. The 2017 fire year in the United States of America (USA) was one of the most destructive on record and the most expensive in USA history, with damage estimates topping US$10 billion. To date, the damage in the 2018 season has also been extensive, with extreme temperatures across large parts of North America.
While our business is wholly dependent on woodfibre, given SEU’s general risk mitigation strategy of sourcing pulp and woodfibre from a variety of sources and regions, we do not anticipate any material impact to raw material supply from climate change in the short- to medium term. In SNA, our operations do not currently face material risks associated with climate change. With the exception of fibre from Brazil for Westbrook Mill, we source from northern hardwood and softwood baskets that have not suffered under any drought conditions or from fire.
However, the situation is different in SSA, where Sappi Forests owns and leases 379,000 hectares of land, with contracted supply covering a further 129,181 hectares. Climate change has already impacted some of our plantations and has the potential to significantly impact our woodfibre base.
Accordingly, we take concerted action to mitigate the risk, beginning with understanding where the largest risks of climate change will be to Sappi, how climate is likely to change further into the future and to formulate a multi-pronged response which involves:
- Climate change investigations: To determine which plantations are most at risk, and also to identify which climatic variables are likely to change, as well as the magnitude and direction of such change. A preliminary study showed that maximum temperatures are more likely to increase than minimum temperatures, especially during spring and summer. It is also likely that spring rainfall will decrease, with more high-intensity rainfall during summer. The combined effect of higher temperatures and lower rainfall in spring is likely to exacerbate tree stress, thereby increasing susceptibility to pests and diseases, as well as fire (see Planet – Mitigating climate change).
- Replacing pure species with hybrids: On the Mpumalanga highveld, Sappi experienced the impact of the changes described above with Eucalyptus (E.) nitens becoming unsuitable due to pest and disease issues, on plantations with the highest risk of climate change. E. nitens has a very narrow ideal temperature range and is very sensitive to changes in temperature. Subsequently, after evaluating management options and associated risks across the entire value chain, the decision was taken to replace E. nitens in KZN by replacing it with E. grandis x E. nitens hybrid varieties.
- Adjusting and directing our tree breeding strategy: Through the use of modelled future climate data. Traditional tree breeding is a relatively slow process and in order to keep up with environmental changes, Sappi’s tree breeding programme is producing and selecting the most optimally suited hybrid varieties for each climatic zone. Our tree breeding division has a target of developing a hybrid varietal solution for all our sites by 2025. We are also making use of genetic tools, like DNA fingerprinting, to enhance and accelerate their breeding and selection process.
- Facilitating the production of more rooted cuttings: As pine and eucalypt hybrids are more successfully propagated through rooted cuttings rather than seed, a strategy is being rolled out to meet future requirements. In addition to the recent construction of Clan Nursery and the re-build of the Ngodwana Nursery, we plan to upgrade Richmond Nursery in 2023 to enable the production of additional hybrid cuttings as well as seedlings.
- Implementing rapid detection techniques: Together with rapid understanding of the relative tolerance/susceptibility of our growing stock to newly introduced pests or disease, these techniques are critical in successfully managing the viability of our woodfibre base. Accordingly, we have instituted a series of Sentinel trials across various climatic regions. These trials are made up of many genotypes―both currently commercially planted and also pre-commercial varieties. In addition to different genotypes, different ages (life stages) of trees are also represented. Using these trials, our objective is to rapidly identify a new pest or disease, and immediately determine which genotypes are susceptible or tolerant, and also which life stage of the tree is impacted. This puts us in a position to react very quickly.
In addition to these trials, we have recently completed a pilot study on the use of automated change detection using satellite imagery focused on rapidly detecting and reacting to damage―drought, pests, diseases, etc―to our plantations. The study entailed acquisition of Sentinel 2 imagery which gives a new image every five days. Newly acquired images are compared to the previous images via cloud processing using complex change detection algorithms. The resultant change is fed live to the Sappi GIS system, and integrated with enterprise data (age, species, tree size, etc). Given the success of the project, we are now rolling it out to all our plantations, while making use of the higher resolution and daily Planet satellite images (www.planet.com) which offer daily change detection.
- Long-term soil monitoring: Under hotter and drier climatic conditions, the importance of soil organic matter will increase because of its ability to reduce soil temperature, and also to increase the soil water infiltration rate soil water holding capacity. A major barrier to monitoring slow-changing soil attributes is the scarcity of long-term data sets. Against this backdrop, in 2018, Sappi Forests established long-term soil monitoring plots through a collaborative research project managed by the Institute for Commercial Forestry Research. These monitoring plots will form part of the current inventory plot network (permanent sample plots) and will be used to interpret and relate changes in soil quality parameters to stand productivity and site management.
Background Our operations are highly dependent on the use and responsible management of water resources. Water is used in all major process stages, including raw materials preparation (woodchip washing), pulp washing and screening, and paper machines (pulp slurry dilution and fabric showers). Water is also used for process cooling, materials transport, equipment cleaning and general facilities operations.
Most of our mills are situated in the vicinity of rivers from which they draw water. Withdrawal from surface sources (mostly rivers) accounts for the largest percentage of water use. This withdrawal is subject to licence conditions in each area where we operate.
The World Resources Institute has identified South Africa and Belgium as having high levels of water stress. We have embarked on a number of water efficiency projects in South Africa and in terms of Saiccor Mill, by having access to the Sappi-owned Comrie Dam where we completed a project to raise the dam wall in 2016 (see Planet – Using water responsibly, for more information and for our response in terms of Lanaken Mill (Belgium).
In Europe, exceptionally low water levels in most of the region’s rivers are not affecting our mills directly, but are having an impact on transport logistics.
In North America, our mills draw water from surface sources (rivers and lakes) and return treated water to the same primary sources. The areas in the two states where our mills operate have been identified as having low levels of water stress.
It is important to note that globally, 95% of the process water we use is returned to the environment. While it is difficult to improve this metric due to the nature of our processes, over five years specific water extracted has reduced by 3.8%.
Water used for pulp and paper production is mostly recycled in the system. However, minerals from woodfibre make it necessary to discharge some amount of water which is purified in high-end waste water treatment facilities.
Water and effluent testing are routinely conducted at mill sites.
Across the group, over five years, we have achieved a positive result in effluent concentration by reducing chemical oxygen demand (COD) by 5.2% and total suspended solids (TSS) by 17.2%. In accordance with previous years, Saiccor Mill has been excluded from the global trend COD reporting. The mill is building up the biodispersion COD dataset, which will be used for future reporting. This value, tested in the marine environment, supports the historical environmental impact studies and the recently conducted biodegradation test, performed on the waste water. The use of this value was also endorsed and used by Quantis for a recent lifecycle assessment (LCA) (see Planet – Improving effluent quality).
In terms of our plantations in South Africa, these are not irrigated and fertiliser use is kept to a minimum―being used only once in each rotation. This limits the potential impact on water sources in terms of nutrient load. In addition, our minimal use of pesticides is strictly controlled by the forest certification systems to which we conform.
Specific water returned to extracted (m3/adt)