GLOBAL paper and pulp group Sappi 's efforts to measure, monitor, manage and mitigate its carbon emissions have been recognised by its prominent ranking in the South African Carbon Disclosure Project 2009 Leadership Index

Sappi (SAP) was ranked fifth in terms of the quality of its disclosure and included in the first ever top performers list of 16 companies in terms of its actual performance on climate mitigation and adaptation actions. No ranking was provided in this regard.

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In the last few years, climate change has become a key agenda item for consumers and businesses around the world. However, Sappi’s focus on reducing its carbon footprint pre-dates this current focus by many years.

Ria Sanz, Sappi’s Group Corporate Counsel and Global Leader on Sustainable Development said: “As far back as 2000, Sappi instituted a system for measuring greenhouse gases (GHGs), based on the premise of ‘measure, monitor, manage and mitigate’.

“Since that time, one of our key strategic goals has been to reduce our carbon footprint by improving energy-use efficiency and decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels. This has been achieved through numerous actions which include reducing purchased energy (electricity and fossil fuel) and by increasing the use of renewable energy – an approach which ultimately results in a reduction in GHG emissions.”

In North America, more than 75% of all energy used is derived from renewable resources (black liquor, bark, sludges and purchased biomass). The percentage of energy derived from renewable resources for South Africa is 38.1% and for Europe is 31.8%, with Sappi’s global figure standing at 48.6%.

The figure for South Africa is expected to increase to over 50% once the Amakhulu expansion project at the Sappi Saiccor Mill is fully on stream.

Earlier this year, the Amakhulu project won an award from Africa Energy for The Most Innovative Co-generation Project, an award won by Sappi’s Tugela Mill in 2008 for its $4,3 million CDM (clean development mechanism) project converting a boiler from coal to bark and thus reducing its use of coal by 53,000 tons per year.

In the EU the company uses non-aerobic digestion of sludge as a means of generating renewable energy in the form of biogas.

A major part of the carbon disclosure project (CDP) questionnaire involves an assessment of the risks and opportunities presented by climate change. In its response, Sappi pointed out that the high percentage of energy it derives from renewable sources will cushion the company from the negative effects of future possible regulatory requirements and carbon tax legislation and will also create opportunities in the form of tax and trading credits.

“In addition,” says Sanz, “the extent to which renewable energy is used throughout our operations is a strong marketing tool, and hence this is an opportunity for Sappi’s products. As the world looks for fossil-free alternatives and materials, the fact that we manufacture recyclable products produced from renewable resources grown in sustainably managed forests with internationally accredited certifications (including PEFC, SFI®, FSC and EMAS), together with the biofuel potential inherent in our processes holds several opportunities.”

Ralph Boëttger, chief executive officer of Sappi Limited, comments: “While Sappi’s high placement (5th) on the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (recognising good disclosure) and inclusion in the top 16 companies in terms of CDP performance scores (recognising climate mitigation and adaptation actions) is welcome recognition of the company’s efforts in the field, Sappi won’t rest on its laurels. We are pushing forward with other initiatives, including the development of a credible carbon footprint calculator and responding to the challenge of responsible water utilisation.”

He concludes: “As a renewable resource company Sappi is committed to a global climate change solution focused on making the transition to a low-carbon economy. Sappi’s leadership position on the CDP highlights the fact that the company is making this vision a reality.”

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