Group overview

Hummingbirds are the trapeze artists of the avian world. They can fly forwards, backwards, even upside down and are also the only vertebrae capable of hovering in place. In addition to being agile, hummingbirds are extraordinarily fast. They have been observed at speeds of nearly 48 kilometres per hour (km/h) in direct flight and over 72 km/h during courtship dives.

Adaptability is another hummingbird characteristic. These tiny birds have fewer feathers than other birds, because they need to have an efficient body that is as lightweight as possible in order for the flight aerobics they perform. As the insulation that they get from their feathers is insufficient, at night they go into torpor, a hibernation-like state that allows them to conserve energy by slowing down their metabolism, heartbeat and respiration rate. Furthermore, hummingbirds remember migration routes and every flower they’ve ever visited. They can also figure out how long to wait between visits so the flowers have time to generate more nectar.

Inherent in our approach is being agile to stay ahead of market changes, preferences, customer needs and expectations.


Creating value by responding strategically

When presented with a dandelion, few people can resist the urge to hold the flower and blow at it to see how far the seeds will travel. It’s the same when presented with a beautiful coffee table book or an impactful piece of print – there is an almost irresistible urge to pick it up, examine it and touch it. Studies have shown that even the simple act of touching objects, like premium packages, brochures and direct mail, can subconsciously increase the perceived value of a brand and its products in the eyes of customers.

Touch can make a stronger impact than sight or sound alone. That’s because touch has the power to shift the brain into a deeper level of engagement, one more conducive to building lasting knowledge. In fact, a number of studies have found that communication through physical media, particularly paper, is more likely to lead to knowledge than communication via digital media.

The haptics of paper and board, together with our need to touch and feel, have created high-growth, cash-generative niche opportunities for Sappi.

We continue to move onwards in terms of paper and paper packaging: Our paperboard packaging product lines are some of the most renowned and valued brands with high-finish premium solutions for cosmetics and perfume, health and beauty care, consumer electronics, confectionery, luxury drinks, food packaging and more. Our packaging brands constitute a great portion of the food packing and labels on shop shelves today. And our graphic papers are used to grab the attention of consumers all over the world.


Our performance review

In mythology, the beautiful, delicate dragonfly symbolises change, transformation and adaptability. This change is said to be about understanding the deeper meaning of life, with the dragonfly’s scurrying flight across water representing an act of going beyond what’s on the surface to look into the deeper implications of life.

Looking beyond – and deeper – is reflected in our Thrive25 sustainability strategy which incorporates our belief that to continue thriving as a global business, we must create long-term value for all stakeholders by supporting a low-carbon circular economy through relevant products from sustainable woodfibre.

Our strategy also recognises that we must understand the forces that heavily impact our lives and work.

Dragonflies have huge compound eyes with thousands of lenses and photoreceptors sensitive to different wavelengths of light, each bringing in information about the insect's surroundings. In other words, they have near-360- degree vision. Which is why they’re able to go after their prey – butterflies, moths, bees and flies – with such accuracy.

At Sappi, we understand that by widening our scope to the broader ecosystem and a wide range of stakeholders, we can identify uncertainty and opportunity beyond our periphery of vision. We leverage insights into our operating context and patterns from our data, stay ahead of nascent technologies and draw on the acumen of our people, to embrace change and create innovative solutions that are relevant to all our stakeholders.


Governance and compensation

The cheetah’s light, streamlined body makes it well-suited to short, explosive bursts of speed, rapid acceleration and executing extreme changes in direction while moving at high speed. Contrary to the common belief that cheetahs – known to be the fastest land animal – hunt by simply chasing their prey at high speeds, they are in fact extremely strategic. They don’t randomly sprint towards anything, but wait until the timing is right, varying their speed during the chase. Speed and smartness are attributes that resonate with us at Sappi, given that ‘making smart decisions which we execute with speed’ are among our core values.

Under our Thrive25 strategy, we foster a safety-first culture, using collaboration and the power of partnerships to respond to changes in our environment, moving Sappi forward and deliver value to our customers.


Governance and compensation

In a continuous flow of energy and life, water always finds the lowest level in an incredibly efficient manner. It penetrates any crevice or path that will facilitate its downward flow, steadily meandering and descending in search of lower planes.

In a similar fashion, our focus is on amplifying value creation for all our stakeholders. The landscape around us is changing rapidly. Stakeholders’ needs and expectations have shifted, in particular as regards the environment and social equity.

We are responding to natural resource constraints by seeking responsible alternatives to non-renewables and solutions that are truly sustainable from seed to final product. We strictly monitor and control our use of energy, water and other raw materials and are investing in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

We work to amplify value creation through innovation and R&D. Innovation is the way we operate that provides competitive advantages and ensures we grow, flourish and progress. R&D is focused on realising our ambitious but achievable strategy of extracting more value from each tree. Our strategy is supported by technology centres in each region which cover every section of the value chain. We deliver value by optimising our production processes, maximising existing capacity and work to constantly improve our best overall machine efficiency levels.

In the communities where we operate, we prioritise projects that support education, entrepreneurship and environment, as well as health and welfare, while working to break the cycle of poverty through stable, safe employment.

By amplifying value creation in this way, we accelerate and advance meaningful change.


About this report

Our annual integrated report for the year ended September 2021 provides an overview of how we create value in terms of our purpose, vision and strategy. The report deals with key opportunities and risks in our markets as well as our performance against financial and non-financial objectives, together with our priorities and expectations for the year ahead. While the report addresses issues pertinent to a broad group of stakeholders, the primary audience is our shareholders. Our global and regional sustainability reports address the wider audience in more detail on key material issues. In addition to our annual integrated report, we have included supporting appendices.

Integrated thinking and the 3Ps

We understand that the long-term sustainability of our business will only be ensured by delivering sustained value for our stakeholders. In understanding our value-creation process, we take an integrated approach, considering Prosperity, People and Planet (the 3Ps) – an approach that is aligned with the International Integrated Reporting Council's (IIRC) six capitals model.


Intellectual capital
Our technology centres and research and development (R&D) initiatives promote a culture of innovation to support the development of commercially and environmentally sustainable solutions for the company.

Financial capital
We manage our financial capital, including shareholders' equity, debt and reinvested capital to maintain a solid balance between growth, profitability and liquidity.

Manufactured capital
Our operations require significant investments in manufactured capital. Investing in building, maintaining, operating and improving this infrastructure requires financial, human and intellectual capitals.


Human capital
We require engaged and productive employees to create value. By creating a safe and healthy workplace for our people in which diversity is encouraged and valued, and providing them with ongoing development opportunities, we enhance productivity and our ability to service global markets.

Social and relationship capital
Building relationships with our key stakeholders in a spirit of trust and mutual respect enhances both our licence to trade and our competitive advantage, thereby enabling shared value creation.


Natural capital
Recognising that our business depends on natural capital, we focus on understanding, managing and mitigating our impacts.

Ensuring holistic value creation

Value for Sappi is not only about delivering returns to our shareholders, it is also about maximising the value of every resource along our value chain to ensure those returns are sustainable. We recognise that our sphere of influence and impact extends beyond our mill gates.

Through this lifecycle approach that harnesses the power of the circular economy, we strive to minimise our negative impacts and increase our positive impacts on people and the planet, while securing sustainable profit margins.

We then measure value created, preserved and eroded in terms of our defined, holistic targets, as outlined and set out in the Business model.

Scope and boundary

The scope of this report includes all our operations (see Where we operate). We aim to present information that is material, comparable, relevant and complete. The issues and indicators we cover reflect our significant economic, environmental and social impacts, and those we believe would substantively influence the assessments and decisions of investors.

Forward-looking statements

For important information relating to forward-looking statements click here to read more.

The materiality of the information presented has been determined on the basis of extensive ongoing engagement with our stakeholders and has been assessed against the backdrop of current business operations, as well as prevailing trends in our industry and the global economy (see How we determine materiality).

In preparing this report, we have tracked environmental findings and research, public opinion, employee views and attitudes, the interests and priorities of environmental and social groups, as well as the activities, profiles and interests of investors, employees, suppliers and customers, communities, governments and regulatory authorities.

At Sappi, we take a holistic view of value creation.

Our reporting suite


2021 Sappi Annual Integrated Report


  • IIRC's International <IR> Framework
  • Companies Act, No 71 of 2008, as amended (Companies Act)
  • Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) Listings Requirements
  • King IV Code on Corporate Governance (King IVTM 1)

2021 Sappi Group Annual Financial Statements


  • International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)
  • Companies Act
  • JSE Listings Requirements
  • King IV

2021 Sappi Group Sustainability Report


  • Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards
  • United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)
  • UN SDGs

For up-to-date information, please refer to our quarterly results announcements and analyst presentations (

1 Copyright and trademarks are owned by the Institute of Directors in South Africa NPC and all of its rights are reserved.


We obtained external assurance on selected sustainability key performance indicators in our 2021 Sappi Group Sustainability Report. The independent practitioner's limited assurance report is included in the 2021 Sappi Group Sustainability Report. Our sustainability information is also verified by our internal audit team. Their verification process includes reviewing the procedures applied for collecting and/or measuring, calculating and validating non-financial data, as well as reviewing reported information and supporting documentation. In addition, most of our key operations undergo external verification including the Eco-Management Audit System in Europe, ISO 50001 energy certification in Europe and South Africa and globally, ISO 45001 environmental certification and ISO 9001 quality certification, as well as OHS 18001 and ISO 45001 health and safety certification.

We are also assessed in terms of the forest certification systems we use and, in South Africa, our broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) performance is assessed by an external ratings agency. In 2021 Sappi Limited was a constituent of the FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Index.

Collectively, these external assessments and certifications, as well as interaction with our stakeholders, give us confidence that our performance indicators are reliable, accurate and pertinent. The Social, Ethics, Transformation and Sustainability (SETS) Committee is satisfied that the sustainability information presented in this report has been provided with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

For information on the combined assurance framework relevant to the disclosure in this report, and for the independent auditors' report, see Group Annual Financial Statements on This year's report does not include summarised financials. However, the full 2021 Sappi Annual Integrated Report with financials is available on in interactive and PDF format.

Board approval

The Sappi Limited board acknowledges its responsibility for ensuring the integrity of the annual integrated report and, to the best of its knowledge and belief, the 2021 Sappi Annual Integrated Report addresses all issues material to the group's ability to create value in the short, medium and long term, and fairly presents the integrated performance of the organisation and its impact. We believe that this report has been prepared in accordance with the International Framework (2021). The report has been prepared in line with best practice and the board has approved the 2021 Sappi Annual Integrated Report on 08 December 2021.

Sir Nigel Rudd
Steve Binnie
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)