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19 February 2014 | Will Green
Sappi is aiming to cut water usage in its South African supply chain by 10 per cent by 2015 against a base year of 2007.
In its 2013 sustainability report the paper company said it used around 87 million litres of water in its mills during the year, but returned around 88 per cent to the environment after treating it.
The report said: “Water issues have been identified as one of the most serious sustainability challenges facing the planet, partly due to the impacts of climate change. Increasing population, urbanisation, per capita demand, and pollution damage to supplies will put even greater pressure on this limited resource going forward.”
The company, which used 4.5 million tonnes of wood fibre in its South African operations in 2013, said 73 per cent came from plantations it owned or leased, with the balance coming from other suppliers. Some 86 per cent of the wood fibre used by the firm is Forest Stewardship Council-certified, according to the report.
The company said it planted 1.2 trees for every one harvested, while the wood it used accounted for 12.5 million tonnes of absorbed carbon dioxide.
Sappi, which is responsible for almost 1 per cent of South Africa’s total export revenue, also operates in Europe and North America, where it owns no plantations.
Globally, the firm has reduced water use by 4 per cent over the past five years, while 51.5 per cent of the energy used in its mills is from renewable sources, mainly “black liquor” - a biofuel by-product of paper pulp production.