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Sustainability and food packaging

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As an industry we need to work on solving the food packaging challenge to come up with sustainable solutions. Looking at ways to assist the planet to regenerate and heal is very important for every individual who inhibits it. In recent years, consumers have been educated on the disastrous effects packaging has had on mother Earth. This has prompted individuals, businesses, retailers and brand owners to take responsibility, and can be seen by the many projects locally and globally that were initiated to help the planet restore herself back to her former glory. 

Sappi is a leading global provider of powerful everyday materials made from renewable resources. We innovate and act responsibly, supporting our stakeholders with sustainable woodfibre products and biobased solutions that encourage circular economies. Sappi has ensured that its food paper packaging products contribute to solving the packaging conundrum. Listed below there are a few sustainable themes Sappi has considered when producing an end product for packaging purposes. 

The use of virgin fibre

There seems to be a misconception that virgin fibre is not sustainable and that using recycled paper is. The truth is that there is a space and place for both. Sappi’s strategic choice to use virgin fibres has many advantages and include the strength properties, because the fibres are longer in length, allowing for less breakages. Another advantage of using virgin fibres is that it allows for Sappi to claim for food grade safety certification through international authority bodies.  Additionally, many of our customers demand shade consistency and by using virgin fibres, this can be achieved easily. It is also worth mentioning that without new fibres from new trees, the paper cycle simply cannot be maintained. Moreover, the paper industry needs fresh fibre from sustainably maintained forests to keep the renewable cycle going. 

Lightweighting of products

Over the years the packaging industry has demanded more and more packaging lines to be lightweighted without compromising on strength. The point above explores virgin fibres and by using virgin we can easily achieve the lightweighting targets set by our converters and corrugators. A further advantage of lightweighting is that it reduces road freight costs, with the added benefit of a lower carbon footprint, resulting in a cost-effective end product.

Ensuring our products are recyclable

Many retailers and brand owners are re-examining their packaging strategy to be implemented over the next 10 years and they are insisting that the packaging used to package food stuffs is converted to materials that can be recycled. Sappi Southern Africa’s packaging product range is not only reusable but is completely recyclable. This is becoming a very attractive eco-friendly alternative for our customers and their end-users. This theme alone is a strong environmental benefit for considering using paper as opposed to fossil-based alternatives.

Supporting local communities

Our production facilities are based in Nelspruit and KwaZulu-Natal, allowing for local community work opportunities. Sappi Southern Africa also offers converters and end-users technical backup expertise as needed, thereby reinforcing our commitment to stakeholder engagement. We all need to work together to make sustainable food packaging a reality.

The circular economy

This means that Sappi and its various departments work thoughtfully throughout the process of sourcing sustainable materials, exploring ways to reduce material waste, mitigating carbon and carefully considering the product end-of-life cycle.

World Environment Day  was on 4 June 2021 and the theme for this year was on #Restorationgeneration. The idea behind this theme is that Sappi’s responsibility in its particular circular economy is to restore, conserve and/or maintain biodiversity and natural forest areas. Sappi’s strict forestry practices promote clean air and water and protect biodiversity. This is a perfect example of sustainability!

It is with all this in mind that Sappi Southern Africa produces a variety of food packaging products that range from liner- and fluting-based products for containerboard applications to various bag grade applications aimed at the milling industry, as well as the fast-moving consumer goods and retail sectors.  

Not only do we meet the requirements of the industry at the right time, but we also address a very important environmental concern that every single person on this planet needs to be accountable for. Sappi is proud of creating and producing fit-for-use products that are beneficial to people and the planet.  

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