Our ‘essential’ classification enabled us to participate in Covid-related economic activity, such as the provision of paper labels for canned goods, packaging and specialities to meet e-commerce needs, as well as dissolving pulp used in disinfectant wipes and hospital gowns. Reduced demand forced us to curtail production across our sites. Where feasible we delayed planned maintenance shuts and we also postponed non-essential projects to support our liquidity management.

Against this turbulent environment, we had to adapt very quickly. Our actions were underpinned by the four key fundamentals of our recently launched Thrive25 business strategy: grow our business, sustain our financial health, drive operational excellence and enhance trust. The latter is based on improving our understanding of – and proactively partnering with – clients and communities, driving sustainability solutions, and meeting the changing needs of every employee at Sappi.

The manner in which our people pulled together demonstrated the power of trust. We moved swiftly to implement IT and HR processes that enabled our people to work from home. Where this was not possible, as with our production sites and certain office employees, we implemented strict protocols to ensure their safety – protocols which are still in place as 2020 draws to a close. And while some employees were temporarily furloughed, there were no large-scale Covid-related retrenchments.

We proactively partnered with organisations and communities to provide support to society and help the less fortunate. We worked with our customers to respond to a dramatically different operating environment, demonstrating resilience and agility as we re-engineered certain processes and products to meet their needs. However, one challenge where we fell behind was safety as tragically, there was one contractor fatality in Sappi Forests. We deeply regret the incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased. Recognising our employees trust us to create a safe environment, we entrench the principles of Project Zero to ensure that they return home safely every day and continue a 24/7 safety mindset outside working hours. Equally, we trust our people to commit to safe behaviour to ensure their own safety and that of their colleagues.

I am proud of our people who leveraged their expertise and commitment to Sappi to take ownership of the ‘new normal’ and create meaningful solutions to unprecedented challenges. Together, we will continue to be a trusted, transparent, and innovative partner in building a biobased circular economy and realise our vision of a more renewable, response world. A world in which we balance Prosperity, People and Planet – and thrive.

Steve Binnie
Chief Executive Officer
Sappi Limited