Our key relationships

17 partnerships for the goals   Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development.

We view stakeholder engagement not as a once-off annual intervention but as an ongoing dynamic process which enables us to respond to the changing nature of shared priorities of parties who are interested in, and affected by, our business.

Our approach to engagement with all stakeholder groupings is based on inclusivity and the principles of:

  • Materiality – identifying the legitimate interests and material concerns of stakeholder groupings
  • Relevance – focusing on those issues of legitimate and material concern to our stakeholders and to Sappi and identifying how best to address them for our mutual benefit
  • Completeness – understanding the views, needs, performance expectations and perceptions associated with these legitimate and material issues and assessing them against prevailing local and global trends, and
  • Responsiveness – engaging with stakeholders on these issues and giving regular, comprehensive, coherent feedback.

Our stakeholder work is aligned to the governance outcomes of the King IV Code, namely ethical culture, performance and value creation, adequate and effective control and trust, good reputation and legitimacy.


We invest in future talent while challenging our people
so that they are able to leverage the opportunities
presented by global megatrends.

Shared priorities Our response
  • Making resources available to enable our people to grow intellectually, fulfil their potential and drive innovation within Sappi
  • Training targets and initiatives are aligned with the needs of each region (see our Group Sustainability Report on www.sappi.com/sustainability)
  • Creating an ethical culture
  • Connecting our people to our strategic goals
  • Employee engagement held every two years measures engagement levels
  • Focusing on safety, health, wellness and recognition programmes
  • All our people are involved in our safety drive, recognition programme at group and regional level
  • Promoting corporate citizenship
  • Eco-effectiveness campaign in Sappi Europe highlights how we generate results to make our business more sustainable
  • Encouraging employee volunteerism through initiatives like:

SEU: Support of various local education, cultural and environmental projects based on annual requests and identified needs

SNA: The Employee Ideas that Matter initiative through which we provide grants to employees to fund their individual projects to support good in local communities

SSA: Employee Wellbeing Committees at each mill support local community projects and also support Mandela Day

Value add of engagement

  • Employees who understand and buy into our 2020Vision are pivotal to the success of our business—alignment with our strategic direction enables our people to contribute more positively to the business as well as their personal and career development
  • By building our human capital, we establish a base of the technical skills needed by the industry
  • An increased commitment to safety delivers benefits at personal, team and operational levels
  • By establishing an ethical culture where corporate citizenship is promoted, we ensure the ongoing viability of our business, enhance reputation and become an employer of choice


Given today’s extremely challenging global economic
conditions and the current socio-economic dynamics
in the South African labour market, we prioritise our
relationship with our employees and their representatives.

Shared priorities Our response
  • Freedom of association and collective bargaining
  • We recognise the rights of our employees to associate freely and bargain collectively, consistent with regional laws and regulations
  • Safety and wellness initiatives
  • Unions are involved in health and safety committees at each mill
  • Remuneration, working hours and other conditions of service

SEU: Collective labour agreements

SNA: Collective bargaining with hourly paid employees and labour agreements with various unions

SSA: Employees (collective bargaining); forestry workers (sectoral determination/consultation)

  • Resolution of grievances
  • Engagement on strategy
  • Well-established grievance channels and disciplinary procedures
  • Engage with unions on economic conditions, market dynamics and growth plans

Value add of engagement

Meaningful engagement on a number of issues affecting both business and employees results in:

  • Improved relationships
  • More stable labour force and productivity, and
  • Enhanced productivity


We work to incorporate the communities close to our operations into our journey of intentional evolution, which recognises the importance of sharing value with all our stakeholders; conserving natural resources and uplifting people so that they are well positioned to thrive in our increasingly inter-connected world. We launched a new Corporate Citizenship Policy in 2018.

There are various formats of community engagement meetings held by our mills in the regions where they operate. These range from broad liaison forums for business, local government and communities to legally mandated environmental forums which form part of the licensing conditions of mills. In South Africa, there are local farmer and community forums related to our forestry communities.

Our initiatives are described in more detail in our Group Sustainability Report on www.sappi.com/sustainability.

Shared priorities Our response

Community support including employment, job creation, business opportunities, economic and social impacts/contributions and community support

Environmental issues relate to biodiversity conservation as well as water usage and quality, effluent quality and air emissions

SEU: Mills offer support and financial sponsorships to local schools, sport and hobby clubs, forest products industry students, local safety/environmental organisations and also support local charities


  • Each business unit has a lead sustainability ambassador who is responsible for supporting sustainability communication, conducting training and fostering community engagement through local projects
  • Education programmes are supported at targeted colleges and universities as are programmes to encourage study in fields relevant to our operations
  • Our employees support initiatives like Living Lands and Waters and the Charles River Watershed Association focused on environmental stewardship and education
  • The Ideas that Matter programme continues to recognise and reward designers who support good causes
  • The Printer of the Year awards recognise excellence in print

SSA: Given South Africa’s significant development needs, community support is mainly focused in this region and includes:

  • Sappi Khulisa, our enterprise development scheme
  • The Abashintshi programme
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Education, including Khulisa Ulwazi, our training centre for small growers and two training centres for local unemployed youth, one at Saiccor Mill and the other at Ngodwana Mill
  • Support for local tourism through our mountain biking sponsorships and promotion of recreational riding on Sappi land

Value add of engagement

  • Enhances our licence to operate
  • Promotes socio-economic development which could in the long term, lead to increased demand for our products
  • Initiates real social mobilisation and change for the better


We adopt a partnership approach, whereby we develop long-term relationships with global, regional and local customers. We also accommodate more transactional customers. Where relevant, we will conduct R&D and develop products to suit customers’ specific needs.

In addition to the usual avenues of engagement, we engage through initiatives like the Sappi Football Cup, now in its eighth year (SEU); Printer of the Year (SNA) and by sponsoring the Citrus Research Symposium (SSA).

Shared priorities Our response

New or enhanced products that meet rapidly changing market demand

In 2018 we branded our dissolving wood pulp (DWP) range as Verve and launched:

  • Sappi Seal
  • New packaging grades Spectro C1S and Proto Litho C1S
  • Fusion Uncoated – a white topliner
  • Fashion White and Fashion White OF for shopping bags
  • Atelier, a folding boxboard

We also established Sappi Digital Solutions, focused on the dye sublimation papers market

Support in terms of paper, packaging, DWP and sustainability goals

In terms of DWP, technical centres of excellence are located at Saiccor and Cloquet Mills

Customers can make use of the competence centre for speciality papers and paper laboratory at Alfeld Mill

In North America, the Sustainability Customer Council provides candid feedback, identifies emerging issues and helps to establish goals

Information and campaigns to promote print as a communication medium and encouraging the use of packaging

In 2018, SNA launched

  • True or False – an informative guide about coated and uncoated paper myths and facts
  • The Five Second Rule a promotional resource focused on direct mail

We showcased our brands at Fach Pack (where we launched Atelier); LUXE PACK, SGIA, FESPA Berlin, HOW Design Live

Globally, we continue to participate in industry initiatives like TwoSides

Information about the fibre sourcing and production processes behind our brands

At the request of our customers, we participate in EcoVadis and Sedex

In Europe and Southern Africa, we publish paper profiles and information sheets for our papers

In North America, we use GreenBlue’s Environmental Performance Assessment Tool (EPAT) which enables buyers to evaluate our performance on a mill-by-mill basis

Provision of technical information

Globally, a series of technical brochures is available on our website www.sappi.com

SEU: The Sappi Houston online knowledge platform


  • The newly launched POP site is aimed at marketers, creatives, designers and printers looking to innovate in their categories (www.sappipops.com)
  • Sappi etc is an educational platform for designers and printers (www.sappi.com/sappietc)

SSA: Our paper and paper pulp product offerings are supported by strong technical teams at each mill and the Technology Centre in Pretoria

Value add of engagement

  • Meet customer needs for products with an enhanced environmental profile
  • Innovate to align with evolving market trends
  • Increase awareness of the importance of sustainability
  • Promote our customers’ own sustainability journeys
  • Keep abreast of market developments
  • Showcase our products and promote the Sappi brand

Industry bodies and business

We partner with industry and business bodies to provide input into issues and regulations that affect and are relevant to our businesses and industries.

We also support and partner with industry initiatives aimed at promoting the use of our products.

Sappi has been a signatory to the UN Global Compact since 2008.

Shared priorities Our response
  • Issues that affect the sustainability of our industry—woodfibre base, carbon taxes, energy and emissions etc
  • Ethical issues impacting business
  • Energy issues in general and in particular government proposals on carbon taxation
  • The impact of increased regulations on business
  • The benefits of our industry and our economic contribution to society
  • Social and environmental credentials of our products


In 2018, we:

  • Became a founding partner of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s (CISL) Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme. Work here will include examining drivers including the rise of artificial intelligence and the need to bring carbon emissions to net zero
  • SEU:
    • Continued to actively contribute to the development of an industry standard for delivery of chemical information through the paper and pulp supply chain by chairing the consortium’s working group
    • Continued to participate in work related to deep eutectic solvents’ within the Biobased Industries Initiative, with the goal of significantly reducing CO2 emissions in pulp and papermaking
  • SNA:
    • Joined the Recycling Partnership as a funding partner
    • Active board-level participant in the Paper and Packaging Board
  • SSA:
    • Under the PEFC, Sappi Forests helped to finalise the South African Forest Assurance Scheme (SAFAS) standard
    • Joined the South African Ethics Institute to benefit from the various activities and materials they provide to members in advancing ethical behaviour
    • Signed the Business Leadership South Africa Integrity Pledge, thereby committing ourselves to actively combating corrupt practices wherever encountered, preventing anti-competitive behaviour, adopting a zero-tolerance approach to corrupt behaviour and protecting whistle-blowers.

Value add of engagement

  • Work with industry and business associations through collective initiatives to support societal change and deal with societal challenges
  • Promote an ethical culture
  • Collaborate on legislative trends such as carbon tax and carbon budgets
  • Maintain and expand markets for our products
  • Demonstrate the value-add of the forest products industry
  • Dispel myths and promote understanding of our industry

Our membership of industry associations

Sappi Limited: TAPPI (the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry) • Business Leadership South Africa • The CEO Initiative

SEU: Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) • Eurograph • European Joint Undertaking on Bio-based Industries • Print Power • Save Food • The Alliance of Energy-Intensive industries • The Two Team Project (focusing on breakthrough technology concepts in the industry which could enable a more competitive future) • TwoSides

SNA: American Forests and Paper Association (AF&PA) • Paper and Paper Packaging Board • Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance • Forest Products Working Group • Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®)• Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) • The Recycling Partnership • TwoSides

SSA: Business Unity South Africa • Energy Intensive Users’ Group • Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Skills Education and Training Authority (SETA) • Forestry South Africa • Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) • Packaging SA • Paper Manufacturers’ Association of South Africa (PAMSA) • Recycle Paper ZA• Printing SA (PIFSA) • Manufacturing Circle • South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) and local chambers of commerce and industry • TwoSides • National Business Initiative (NBI)

Sappi Forests: Institute for Commercial Forestry Research (ICFR) • Founding member of the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) • BiCEP (Biological Control of Eucalyptus Pests) (http://bicep.net.au) • Eucalyptus Genome Network (EUCAGEN) • CAMCORE


Our aim is to provide investors (shareholders and bondholders) and analysts with transparent, timely, relevant communication that facilitates informed decisions.

Shared priorities Our response
  • Information on Sappi’s strategy
  • Return on investment
  • Transparent information about risks, opportunities and environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance


  • Our investor relations (IR) team engages with shareholders and analysts on an ongoing basis. Our chairman also engages with shareholders on relevant issues
  • We engage with various ratings agencies, particularly in terms of ESG performance
  • We conduct ad hoc mill visits and road shows, and issue announcements through Stock Exchange News Services (SENS), in the press and on our website (www.sappi.com)
  • We publish our Annual Integrated Report and Group Sustainability Report on the company website
  • Shareholders can attend and participate in the AGM as well as the four quarterly financial results briefings
  • Our CFO and Head of Treasury engage with bondholders, banks and rating agencies on an ongoing basis regarding the performance of the company
  • We participate in the Carbon Disclosure and Forest Footprint Disclosure projects every year, making our submissions publicly available

Value add of engagement

  • Understanding of our strategic direction
  • Enhanced reputation
  • Greater investment confidence
  • Broader licence to invest

Suppliers and contractors

We are committed to establishing mutually respectful relationships with our suppliers and encouraging them to join our commitment to economic, social and environmental responsibility and to creating an environment that shares our commitment to doing business with integrity and courage; making smart decisions which we execute with speed. We aim to build long-term value partnerships.

Shared priorities Our response
  • Safety
  • Transparency


Given our focus on zero harm in the workplace, we work with our contractors to ensure that they follow Sappi’s safety systems. In South Africa, Sappi Forests worked closely with contractors and their workers to develop and implement its innovative ‘Stop and Think before you Act’ programme

  • Increased value and decreased costs, security of fibre supply, certification, income generation and job creation


Shortly after year-end we adopted an updated Supplier Code of Conduct

SEU: A joint sourcing partnership assists in negotiating better terms with timber and other suppliers. In addition, the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI), of which Sappi Europe is a member, participates in actions supporting and promoting the development of sustainable forestry management tools—including forest certification—all over the world, particularly in less developed countries

SNA: The Sappi Maine Forestry Programme and the Sappi Lake State Private Forest Programme assist forest landowners to meet their objectives for managing their woodland. Sappi’s trained foresters are able to develop a forest management plan geared to the interests of the landowner including wildlife management and aesthetics, marketing of timber to generate maximum return and providing an extensive network of environmental and marketing resources

SSA: Qualified extension officers provide growers in our Sappi Khulisa enterprise development scheme with ongoing growing advice and practical assistance

Value add of engagement

  • Security of woodfibre supply
  • Improved supplier relations
  • Better understanding of the requirements of the Sappi group
  • Expanded basket of certified fibre
  • Support for local economic development
  • Support for emerging supplier/contractor development

See Group Sustainability Report on www.sappi.com/sustainability for more detailed information about out stakeholder relationships.

Civil society (and media)

We maintain an open relationship with the media, believing that an informed media is better able to serve public reporting and debate on any issue.

We continue to update the media regarding our strategic shifts to extract value from woodfibre in line with future trends. We engage with civil society organisations on issues of mutual interest and belong to key organisations relevant to our operations.

We engage with various civil society groups regarding our societal and development impact.

In Europe and North America, close engagement is maintained directly and through the respective industry bodies CEPI and AF&PA with the FSC® and WWF International. In Europe also with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC™). In North America, Sappi is a member of the economic chamber of both FSC US and SFI® and actively engages with these organisations through a variety of working groups and committee activities. In South Africa, Sappi is a member of the local WWF organisation as well as FSC.

Shared priorities Our response
  • Business developments
  • The future of our industry
  • Our impacts on our communities
  • Protecting the environment


  • We join key credible organisations as members
  • We develop personal relationships and engage on an ongoing basis
  • We provide support to and sponsorship for key organisations on issues of mutual interest
  • In terms of civil society, in South Africa, our forestry operations belong to a number of fire associations, given that fire is a key risk on our plantations. Our innovative Abashintshi project continued to gain traction, helping to prevent the spread of fires. This has also been helped by African Honey Bee project on our plantations (See SSA Sustainability Report on www.sappi.com/sustainability)

Value add of engagement

  • Opportunity to inform and educate media
  • Transparent, two-way communication and opportunity for dialogue

Government and regulatory bodies

We engage with government departments and regulatory bodies to provide input into issues and regulations that affect our industry. We also engage with regional and local governments and local authorities to obtain support for our operations and show how our activities contribute to local economic and social development.

Shared priorities Our response
  • Energy issues in general and in particular government moves on carbon taxation
  • The impact of increased regulations on business
  • The social and economic benefits of our industry nationally as well as at a local level
  • Increased investment
  • Consultations take place on an ongoing basis with government departments and regulatory bodies in each region. In Europe we also regularly engage with the European Commission
  • We undertake briefings to legislators
  • We support specific government initiatives, including in South Africa the renewable energy push—our biomass project at Ngodwana Mill achieved regulatory approval and financial close and our group CEO participated in and made commitments at the investment conference hosted by the South African President

Value add of engagement

  • Promote understanding of issues and challenges
  • Help governments to understand the strategic value of our industry
  • More receptive regulatory and policy environment