2020 Sappi Southern Africa Corporate Citizenship Report


Reducing waste builds long-term resilience, generates business and economic opportunities and provides environmental and societal benefits.

What is this about?

Our planet has provided us with an abundance of natural resources. But we have not utilised them responsibly and currently consume far beyond what our planet can provide. We must learn how to use and produce sustainably to reverse the harm we have inflicted on the planet.

Why is this a priority goal and why does it matter?

For South Africa: South Africans dispose of enough municipal solid waste to fill an entire football field 10 metres deep, every day. According to Statistics South Africa, only 10% of our waste is recycled.

For Sappi: We focus on minimising waste through production efficiencies and adding value to by-products. This not only helps to mitigate environmental impact, but can also generate additional revenue.

What is Sappi doing about it?

The key components of woodfibre include cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin and extractives. Both cellulose and hemicellulose are polysaccharides containing many different sugar monomers which can be extracted from pulping streams. We achieve our aim of using the full potential of each tree we harvest and leveraging new revenue opportunities by extracting biobased materials from the pre-hydrolysate kraft stream, such as hemicellulose sugars and lignin, for beneficiation to higher-value biochemicals.

Of the waste SSA generated in 2020, 66.5% was beneficially used for on-site combustion and composting and was either given away (ash to blockmakers) or sold.

Case studies

Cleaning up – naturally

In an uncertain world, the need for sanitiser driven by Covid-19 is certain to remain. Achieving the desired viscosity of sanitising gel can be challenging, and there are only a few thickeners like acrylates, a group of chemical compounds, that are suitable.

Sappi Valida, a natural cellulose product, offers a natural alternative for the formulation of more skin and planet-friendly solutions. A highly fibrillated cellulose, Valida is a 100% natural, biodegradable and sustainable material derived from renewable woodfibre. It can be used successfully as an opacifier and thickener in sanitising gels and offers several unique additional benefits, including:

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Reducing waste at Saiccor Mill

As part of the recent woodyard upgrade at Saiccor Mill, scalping screens were installed for the removal of slivers from woodchips. On commissioning slivers, it was noticed that a large amount of 'good' chips were carried over with slivers and subsequently disposed as woodyard waste to landfills. Through continuous sliver observations, investigations, as well as trial and error, the Saiccor team came up with the idea of installing retention bars on the scalping screens. Between October 2019 and January 2020, the woodyard disposed of, on average, 2,600 tons per month. After the implementation of the retention bars, the sliver pile tonnage reduced to an average of 240 tons per month. That meant that around 2,360 tons of acceptable chips were retained in the process.

This simple, inexpensive, but highly effective solution which cost approximately ZAR10,000 saved the mill about ZAR30 million per annum in terms of waste disposal and timber loss costs.

Looking forward: Our Thrive25 target linked with this SDG
Launch products with defined sustainability benefits 5 products
Reduce specific landfilled solid waste 24%
Promote sustainable growth in our plantations
Annual growth in million tons
> 4
How can I support this goal?

Buy fruit that is in funny shapes and overripe, and make smoothies

Recycle tins, bottles and bags

Don't keep clothes or other items you are not using – rather donate them

Only buy what you need – 20-50% of the food we buy ends up in landfill