Vigourexplore our theme

Lizards are estimated to have been around for 240 million years. Little wonder, given that they make use of a variety of antipredator adaptations, including venom, camouflage, reflex bleeding and the ability to sacrifice and regrow their tails. What’s more, as with other reptiles, the skin of lizards is covered in overlapping scales made of keratin, providing protection from the environment and reducing water loss through evaporation. This characteristic enables them to thrive in some of the driest deserts on earth.

Vigour, strength and adaptability have ensured lizards’ ability to thrive over the course of time.

So, too, at Sappi, our commitment to growing our business and maintaining a healthy balance sheet, has sustained us for almost 90 years. We are vigorous in our commitment to deliver on our Thrive strategy, including by reducing exposure to graphic paper markets while investing for growth in our target markets and capitalising on our leadership position in pulp supply to the lyocell market.

Evolveexplore our theme

Very little in nature is static – everything is constantly changing and evolving. One miraculous example of this is the metamorphosis of the egg, the caterpillar (larva) and the chrysalis (pupa) into the adult butterfly. This process embodies fresh ideas, renewal and unexpected outcomes.

The caterpillar’s new form as a butterfly opens new horizons, but also new risks, particularly in the form of climate change. Butterflies are particularly sensitive to environmental changes like climatic shifts. That is because they are strictly adapted to certain environmental conditions and their development depends on certain larval food plants and specific microhabitat structures.

In Sappi’s case, climate change presents both risks and opportunities. We are addressing short- and long-term physical and transitional climate risks identified through processes outlined by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) to build resilience. In addition, we are determined, as a socially responsible business, to play our part in ensuring a just transition in South Africa as the country faces the reality of reducing its dependence on coal.

We are also determined to accelerate our science-based decarbonisation trajectory which we see as an opportunity to future-proof our business. So too, are the opportunities presented by evolving customer needs and legislation – notably growing demand for sustainable packaging, based on low-carbon impact, together with demand for more sustainable textile fibres.

We cannot achieve our vision of a thriving world without an evolving response to climate change. By collaborating with a broad range of stakeholders we are working to achieve energy security and climate resilience and transform our vision into reality.

Postureexplore our theme

Beauty and confidence. Pride and upright posture. These attributes have meant that many cultures over the ages have associated peacocks with royalty and power.

This image is appropriate to Sappi because we too, can stand tall with pride when we consider our past achievements and drive to create not just enterprise value, but value for our people and for communities.

We have achieved enterprise value through our ability to be nimble and optimise profitability in ever-changing markets, reshaping our products and processes to create value and growth for our own business and our customers. We continue to offer our customers a broad range of solutions based on the power of renewable resources that enable them to achieve their sustainability goals and contribute to the low-carbon, circular economy. In doing so, we have continued to focus on treading more lightly on the Planet.

Creating value for our people and communities is underpinned by the structures and programmes we have established which facilitate open, authentic communication, by our ongoing investment in training, development and transformative community programmes, as well as by our collaborative partnerships focused on workable solutions to industry challenges.

Our commitment to delivering sustainable value to our stakeholders is based on our focus on living our values at all times: At Sappi we do business safely with integrity and courage, making smart decisions which we execute with speed.

Diving deeper into our,
performance and prospects

Fortifyexplore our theme

Hermit crabs are shapeshifters, moulting as they grow, continually shedding their exoskeletons and growing new ones. As their exoskeletons are fragile, they need shells for protection. Rather than produce their own shell, as they grow, they use shells abandoned by other marine creatures. This process is not a one-off, but continues throughout their lifespan, depending on water temperature, habitat and species.

Many species will enhance their chances of survival by encouraging anemones to attach to their shell, as the latter’s stinging tentacles may deter predators. The crabs even transfer the anemones from shell to shell when they move house.

We can draw parallels with Sappi, fortified as we are by our iterative Thrive strategy and by our agility in responding to changes in our operating context to emerge stronger and better positioned for growth. This process is underpinned by ongoing engagement with our stakeholders, whose input helps us shape our response to our environment as we collaborate to build a thriving world.

Balanceexplore our theme

Bubbles are things of fragility, wonder – and balance. That’s because the inward surface tension forces of the water film are exactly balanced by the outward-pushing pressure of the air inside.

Blowing more air in to make a bigger bubble means more air pressure inside and also means the bubble must get thinner in the process, because there is only so much water to go around. Should one keep blowing more air in, the film eventually won’t have enough reserve water to spread out into a bigger surface, and the ultimate catastrophe occurs: the bubble bursts.

The success of Sappi’s business is also based on balance. This includes continuous capital prioritisation as we look to reduce costs and grow the business while sustaining a healthy balance sheet. It involves reshaping our product portfolio to meet changing market needs and taking advantage of growth opportunities while being mindful of the risks. It means balancing the needs of people and communities with our responsibility to our shareholders.

As we move forward into the future, we know we can rely on the expertise and passion of our people and the ongoing cooperation of our stakeholders to maintain this balance and drive sustainable value creation.

Connectexplore our theme

Some mushrooms are bioluminescent, due to luciferins, the same compounds that make fireflies light up at night. This ability is used to attract insects which then spread the mushroom spores elsewhere in the forest, allowing the fungi to reproduce.

But that’s not where connection ends. Beneath every forest and wood lies a complex network of roots and fungi that connects trees and plants to one another. This network – sometimes called the Wood Wide Web – is almost 500 million years old and is vital for most plants on earth. Trees and plants obtain nutrients that the fungi acquire from the soil, such as nitrogen and phosphorus by means of enzymes that the trees do not possess. In return, the fungi receive carbon-rich sugar from the roots of the trees.

This symbiotic relationship enables all connected organisms to thrive.

Similarly, at Sappi our connection with our stakeholders shapes our work to build a thriving world. This connection enables us to meet the changing needs of every employee at Sappi and to offer our partners the renewable innovation they need to be successful. By understanding and connecting with community needs, we drive positive social impact, playing a role beyond making and selling.

Like mushrooms, our business is a living organism – growing, adapting and evolving in a continually shifting context. As we shape our response to this context, we prioritise value creation for all stakeholders.

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Social, Ethics, Transformation and Sustainability Committee report

 

Valli Moosa
Chairman Social, Ethics, Transformation and Sustainability Committee


Introduction

The Social, Ethics, Transformation and Sustainability (SETS) Committee presents its report for the financial year ended September 2023. This committee is a statutory committee with a majority of independent non-executive members, whose duties are delegated to them by the board of directors. The committee conducted its affairs in compliance with a board-approved terms of reference and discharged all its responsibilities contained therein.

Multi-functional Regional Sustainability Councils (RSCs) provide strategic and operational support to a Group Sustainability Council which in turn provides support to the SETS Committee in dealing with key sustainability issues.

During the financial year the committee formally met three times at which meetings it deliberated on all aspects relating to its terms. A 100% attendance record was achieved by board committee members Mr Valli Moosa, Dr Boni Mehlomakulu, Mr Brian Beamish, Mr Jim Lopez and Mr Steve Binnie, for 2023.

Objectives of the committee

The world has endured much in recent years – rapidly increasing global temperatures leading to extreme weather events, rising income inequality, deepening geopolitical tensions, a global pandemic and unprecedented inflation driving economies into recession. These events severely disrupted our status quo; they affected our health, environment, society and economies. We recognise that the private sector has a key role to play in addressing the challenges the world is facing today and the SETS Committee assesses our social posture, ensuring that the company is a responsible corporate citizen. We enhance our long-term stakeholder value by focusing our actions to deliver more sustainable shared value outcomes, both minimising the impacts of our activities on society and the environment.

The role of the SETS Committee is to assist the board with the oversight of the company and to provide guidance to management's work in respect of its duties in the fields of social, ethics, transformation and sustainability. The committee relies on international best practice as well as the laws and regulations under which Sappi's businesses operate to ensure that the group not only complies with, but also fully implements all requirements. The committee addresses issues relating to corporate social investment, ethical conduct, diversity, transformation and empowerment initiatives and targets and ongoing sustainability practices to ensure that our business, our environment and our people can prosper on an ongoing basis. The responsibilities include monitoring the company's activities, having regard to any relevant legislation, other legal requirements and prevailing codes of best practice. The committee meets a minimum of three times each year.

Membership of the committee

The members of the SETS Committee during FY2023 were:

MV Moosa
(Chairman from 01 March 2016)

SR Binnie

B Mehlomakulu

BR Beamish

JM Lopez

Four members of the committee were Independent Non-executive Directors and one the Chief Executive Officer. In addition, the Chairman of the board attends committee meetings ex officio. The regional Chief Executive Officers, the Group Head Strategy and Legal, the Group Head Technology, the Group Head Human Resources, the Group Head Corporate Affairs, the Executive Vice President Pulp and the Group Head Investor Relations and Sustainability attend meetings by invitation.

Committee activities reviewed and actioned during the year

At each committee meeting a topic is selected for an in-depth review. Typically, the subject of these reviews are matters which the committee believes represent key risks or opportunities for the business. In 2023 the review topics were:

Conclusion

The committee confirms that the group gives its social, ethics, transformation and sustainability responsibilities the necessary attention. Appropriate policies and programmes are in place to contribute to social and economic development, ethical behaviour of staff towards colleagues and other stakeholders, fair labour practices, environmental responsibility and good customer relations. In fulfilling their mandate, the committee has sought to ensure the needs of a wide set of stakeholders, including employees, local communities, customers and shareholders are considered and that key sustainability risks are identified and managed.

There were no substantive areas of non-compliance with legislation and regulation, nor non-adherence with codes of best practice applicable to the areas within the committee’s mandate that were brought to the committee’s attention. The committee has no reason to believe that any such non-compliance or non-adherence has occurred.

Valli Moosa
Chairman
Social, Ethics, Transformation and Sustainability Committee