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Sappi: Driving Diversification in Speciality Papers, Bioproducts, Nano

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According to reporting this week by Industry Europe (Norwich, U.K.) Sappi (Johannesburg, South Africa) has become the world’s leading producer of dissolving wood pulp (DWP), which is a highly purified form of cellulose extracted from wood through specialized cellulose processes. DWP is the primary catalyst for the manufacture of viscose staple fiber which is a natural substitute for cotton and polyester in the textile industry. However, it is also used in foodstuffs, household products and pharmaceuticals. In addition to graphic papers, Sappi also produces specialty and packaging papers and all of these are playing an increasingly important role in an environmentally conscious world.

Further diversification can be found in the company’s bio-energy and biomaterials programs, which derive additional value from wood by extracting bio-refinery products and producing energy from renewable resources. Nanocellulose products are also being pioneered by Sappi to provide low-cost Cellulose NanoFibrils (CNF) via its patented process that offers new global growth opportunities and new markets for the company.

Today the Sappi Group is a truly global player with 14 state-of-the-art paper mills in operation worldwide seven located in western Europe, three in the USA and four in South Africa. Collectively they produce over 5.4 million metric tpy of paper, 2.2 million metric tpy of paper pulp, and 1.4 million tpy of dissolving wood pulp. The group employs more than 12,000 people and in 2017 recorded consolidated revenues of around $800 million.
Sappi’s future is reported as being bright and its continuing success is embodied in its strategic development plan, which it calls its ‘20-20 Vision’. This draws on the power of ‘One Sappi’ and the whole group as it expands beyond the realms of paper and pulp to unlock and commercialize the potential of wood-fiber-derived bio-products. As a longstanding leader and innovator in its field, the company is able to deliver tailor-made, customized solutions for its customers’ specific requirements to anywhere in the world.

New digital horizons

In keeping with its strategy of combining its organic growth with strategic acquisitions, Sappi successfully concluded its purchase of the speciality paper business of the Cham Paper Group Holding (CPG) on February 28. The Cham Paper Group AG is a leading manufacturer of coated speciality papers, based in Italy.

The company’s plant in Carmignano, Italy is a non-integrated paper mill that is capable of producing over 100,000 metric tpy of paper including CIS Flex-Pack, CIS Label Papers, Wet Glue and self-adhesive applications. The company operates a similar paper mill in Trento, Italy and its portfolio includes silicone-based papers and super-calendared, uncoated flexible packaging papers. However, Cham Group’s digital imaging business, which is located in Cham, Switzerland in a 4000m2 industrial facility, is described as the jewel in the crown. Here the base paper from Cordino or Carmignano mills is converted to produce over 12,000 tonnes of digital imaging paper per year.

Strength in sustainability

Sappi is proud of its dedicated, long-term sustainability program, which has spearheaded its business platform for many years. The company stated that sustainability makes sound business sense and the results are plain to see. "We depend on our stakeholders to help us create long-term business value and on natural resources for our commercial viability. Accordingly, we have a strong business case for responsible corporate citizenship," added Binnie.

Today the Sappi Group uses natural resources like wood fiber and water to create products that support society’s needs. In order to ensure the on-going viability of these resources, the company strives to achieve the highest standards of environmental performance.

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