Sappi has long operated three business units in North America—coated papers, release papers and pulp. In 2014 we added specialty packaging as a fourth business unit within the region. Combined with recent investments in our other three business units, we have increased the diversity of products we manufacture and are well positioned to retain our competitive advantage and increase profitability despite difficult market conditions. Our future depends on the success of all four business units.
Climate change is attributed to deforestation and emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels, among other causes. Biomass is considered carbon neutral when the growth rate of forests is greater than or equal to harvest levels, as is the case in North America. The carbon neutrality of biogenic fuels has been recognized by an abundance of studies and institutions, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Sappi North America is proud to say that it has the lowest carbon footprint among domestic producers of coated freesheet paper.
Sappi’s new global mission statement highlights the fact that our success depends on collaboration and partnerships with stakeholders. In my role as Director of Sustainable Development and Global Policy Initiatives, I have the pleasure of representing Sappi in numerous sustainability initiatives. This past year I began working on two new collaborative efforts focused on recycling and the best use of recycled fiber.
Since 2008, Sappi North America has established regional long-term goals to focus our collective efforts on areas that are critical to our business. Achieving these goals improves our performance and helps assure our success for years to come. In concert with our new global strategy, 2020Vision, we have established several goals that cross all regions. Benchmarking from a 2014 baseline, this year marks our first year of performance against those new global goals. In addition to the global goals, we have also set regional goals for employee training and the reduction of raw material waste.
Have you heard of Sappi’s Ideas that Matter competition? More than a decade ago, Sappi established the grant program to recognize and support designers who use their skills and expertise to solve communications problems for a wide range of charitable activities. Since 1999, Sappi has funded over 500 nonprofit projects, contributing over US$12million worldwide to causes that enhance our lives and our planet.
Each year I look forward to reporting our progress against the five-year goals we set to ensure that Sappi North America continues as a thriving, sustainable, re-investable company. Whether you are an employee, customer, shareholder or a member of one of our mill communities, you should know how we are doing in terms of employee training and safety, key environmental metrics and, of course, financial returns.
Given our strong record of capital investment to keep our machines modern and flexible, as well as our deep commitment to R&D, we are able to bring solutions to the market quickly in all four of our businesses. This year, the following business developments and improvements were made.
The rapidly changing world around us is having a widespread impact on just about everything: global economies, industries, markets, consumer trends and our planet’s resources. As a company, we are embracing this reality with a focused strategy and some very clear objectives.