As the world's population grows and becomes increasingly urbanised, so challenges related to inequality, resource scarcity and climate change have raised expectations to promote greater social equity, make more and better with less; extract more value from resources and continuously reduce environmental footprint.
We are making strides: In 2016, Japanese researchers discovered a type of bacteria, Ideonella sakaiensis, that eats non-biodegradable plastic. Now researchers have engineered a mutant version of the plastic-munching bacteria that is 20% more efficient.
Initially they hoped to get a clearer picture of how the new mechanism evolved by tweaking the enzyme in the lab. What they got instead was a mutant enzyme that degrades plastic even faster than the naturally occurring one. The researchers have said that they will continue to improve it through protein engineering and evolution.
At Sappi, innovation is hard-wired into our DNA. While a key focus is on innovative products that help to mitigate the global challenges described above, for us it is not just about products or services.
Our culture of innovation promotes the evolution of old ideas, exploration of new ones, as well as the readiness to collaborate and ability to commercialise new ideas quickly. It informs our approach to commerce, consumption and community. It is apparent in our marketing initiatives, in understanding our stakeholders' needs and expectations, in our training and development initiatives, ongoing drive to tread more lightly on the Planet and in the pioneering socio-economic upliftment programmes we have established across communities.