Increasing the sustainability of our products through circular design and adjacent markets

Why it's material

Natural resources are the life force of our planet. Without many of these resources, life as we know it would not exist. Against this backdrop, we believe it's our responsibility to use the full potential of each tree we harvest by building a biobased circular economy. Our bioproducts are sustainable alternatives extracted from woodfibre to reduce the need for fossil-based materials used in everyday products.

How this issue links to other aspects of our business

Our global priority SDGs


Our top ten risks

  • 3 Evolving technologies and consumer preferences
  • 4 Liquidity
  • 6 Project implementation and execution

Our strategic fundamentals

  • Grow our business
  • Sustain our financial health
  • Drive operational excellence

The global forces shaping our Thrive25 strategy

  • Changing consumer and employee profiles
  • Growing populations with increasing rates of urbanisation
Only 9% of the world is circular today. This means that only 9% of 92.8 billion tons of mineral, metals, biomass and fossil fuels that enter the economy are re-used every year.1
1 https://www.circle-economy.com/news/the-circularity-gap-report-our-world-is-only-9-circular#.XFHdGc_7RQI

Our approach

Leveraging collaboration and innovation, our aim is to create closed loops in which raw materials, components and products lose as little of their value as little as possible.

Key developments in 2020

Symbio, our biocomposite cellulose fibre, brings the haptics of nature, strength and reduced environmental footprint to plastic composite materials. This product is present in various components of large scale production automobiles and has also been chosen as feedstock for the development of lightweight biocomposite materials, for the European Life Biobcompo project. The project, which includes leading vehicle and automotive parts manufacturers, aims to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions by 8% through the replacement of conventional mineral fillers with biobased fibres, promote the use of more sustainable resources and demonstrate these technologies at industrial scale. Symbio is also being successfully used in kitchen and homeware products, bringing natural content to daily use items

The commercialisation of our Valida nanocellulose gained traction with many repeat orders. As the use of sanitiser became more widespread during Covid-19, Valida was used as an opacifier and thickener in sanitising gels, providing a natural alternative for acrylate-based polymers and microplastics. When suspended in water, Valida cellulose fibrils form an insoluble 3D network based on hydrogen bonding and mechanical entanglement. Valida's other unique benefits include:

  • Derived from renewable resources – sustainable alternative to fossil-fuel based polymers and microplastics
  • Superior skin feel and moisturising qualities
  • Unique texture
  • High safety standards in terms of skin irritation, sensitisation, blockage and penetration – the product has passed cosmetics ingredient safety studies including those by SGS, a leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company.

Other areas of use include:

  • Personal care products and cosmetics
  • Decorative paints and coatings
  • Construction applications
  • Paper – we have been successfully developing our own advanced paper products, using our Valida technology, on various paper machines in all regions. This holds potential for a next generation of packaging, graphics and functional papers.

We are becoming increasingly recognised as key player in lignosulphonate markets – we continue to target higher value markets, many of which use lignin to replace oil-derived products. This particularly in view of the fact that markets increasingly require products based on renewable natural resources. We are expanding from traditional uses such as dust control and concrete admixtures to:

  • Lignin-based intermediates as substitution for phenols that are widely used in resins and polyols used in rigid foams
  • Lignin-based intermediates for use in glues
  • Lignin-based animal feed binders with natural antimicrobial and antifungal functionality to improve animal performance (gut health)
  • Granulation aids for agricultural products
  • Fuel pellet binders
  • Replacement for starch in the manufacture of recycled paper

We have successfully illustrated the ability to extract xylose sugars as co-product from DP production at Ngodwana Mill, the technology is now ready for deployment; the 25MW biomass power plant at Ngodwana Mill in which we have a 30% stake is under construction and our technologies to produce furfural as co-product at our dissolving wood pulp mills is ready for industrial scale illustration with plans to do so well advanced.

Symbio's diverse applications

Symbio's key attributes

Up to 15% weight saving
Excellent heat deflection
Low abrasiveness
Reduced cycle time
Lower processor temperature
Soft and warm touch
Matt natural surface
Renewable content
up to 40%
Unique smooth
wooden sound
Reduced CO2