South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently launched the SAPPI Saiccor Expansion and Environmental Upgrade Project at Umkomaas in KwaZulu-Natal. The facility, which contributes to air pollution, will be equipped with a new facility for the environmentally responsible production of its globally traded dissolving pulp.
The South African Pulp and Paper Corporation (SAPPI) wants to contribute more to sustainable development. To this end, the company is implementing the SAPPI Saiccor Mill Expansion and Environmental Upgrade Project. The initiative aims to eventually decarbonise the multinational’s main facility in the town of Umkomaas, 50 km south of the port city of Durban.
The SAPPI Saiccor plant will supply the global market with Lyocell (a material considered the fibre of the future in the textile and fashion industry) derived from the dissolving pulp it manufactures. “By using renewable wood to make innovative, circular bio-based products, SAPPI continues to make a positive impact on the planet by moving away from fossil-based products,” says Ebrahim Patel, South Africa’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition.
Alex Thiel, CEO of SAPPI’s South African subsidiary, said the R7.7 billion ($443.8 million) project would also generate R1 billion ($56.3 million) a year for the KwaZulu-Natal government. The project will be jointly piloted by Nomusa Dube-Ncube, the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, and Nigel Rudd, SAPPI’s chairman of the board.
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The group, founded in 1936, employs 12,800 people who produce and export 600,000 tonnes of chemical pulp used for cigarette and washing powder packaging annually. However, SAPPI has been accused several times of air pollution, because according to experts, the waste (ash and sludge) from its factory is often dumped on farmland or in the Mkhomazi River, to the detriment of the health of local populations and biodiversity.