Mention wood and pulp; the first things that come to mind are furniture, trusses, paper and packaging. But wait, there’s much more. Dissolving pulp is an incredibly versatile product serving as a feedstock to a dynamic and wide variety of products and global markets.
The primary producer of dissolving pulp (DP) in Africa is Sappi. The international company produces 1,4-million tonnes of DP a year. Verve is Sappi’s brand name for its DP product, with a 17% share of the DP market.
Verve is used to make various products like textiles, pharmaceuticals and food applications. New and innovative product solutions are constantly developed to meet the needs of an ever-changing global market.
Most dissolving pulp (DP) is consumed in the textile industry, which converts it through the value chain to yarn and fabric. It forms soft, breathable fabrics that hold colour well and drape beautifully. DP is also used for numerous household, industrial and pharmaceutical applications, including tablets, acetates, washing sponges and non-woven fabrics.
The most prominent wood-based cellulosic fabrics are those produced from viscose staple fibre (VSF). VSF accounts for approximately 70% of global dissolving pulp production. It is used in fashion, home and decorating textiles as well as non-woven applications such as the fibre component in face masks, health and hygiene clothing and sanitation.
Cellulosic-based fabrics are breathable and offer a soft, natural feel with high levels of moisture absorbency. This contrasts with most synthetic fibre-based fabrics derived from non-renewable fossil fuels.
A Sappi mill produces almost two-thirds of the world’s Lyocell DP. With its sustainable raw material, reduced chemical processing and closed loop systems, Lyocell represents the next generation of fibres. Lyocell is the most sustainable wood-based cellulosic fibre.
Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC)
MCC is a useful ingredient used by the pharmaceutical industry due to its excellent binding properties. It is used in many prescription and over-the-counter tablets.
Ethers derived from dissolving pulp are used widely in food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics production. They also have more heavy industry-related applications, such as drilling fluids, mining flotation aids and detergents. Commonly produced ethers include carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), methylcellulose (MC) and hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC).
Cellophane is used the world over for packaging in the food industry. It offers excellent breathability and non-static properties and has become essential for preserving freshness and its visual appeal for certain food groups. Cellophane is also used to produce alkaline batteries and lithographic masking tape.
Acetate from dissolving pulp is used in manufacturing fabrics, yarns, and plastic applications such as spectacle frames, photographic film, and clothing buttons. It is mainly used for the manufacture of cigarette filters.
Sustainable Apparel Coalition
Sappi is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC). It is a group of more than 240 global brands, retailers, manufacturers, government, non-profit environmental organisations, and academic institutions committed to improving supply chain sustainability in the apparel, footwear, and textile industry.
Sappi is also a member of the Textile Exchange. Founded as Organic Exchange in 2002, Textile Exchange is a global non-profit organisation that works closely with all sectors of the textile supply network.
Textile Exchange identifies and shares best practices in farming, materials, processing, traceability and product end of life. It aims to positively impact water, soil, air, animals and the human population created worldwide by the textile industry. Members include 210 companies and organisations from more than 25 countries.
Sappi has partnered with Birla Cellulose, a leading viscose manufacturer in the textile value chain, to provide a forest-to-garment traceability solution for brand owners.
Birla’s GreenTrack blockchain technology and Sappi’s comprehensive database on wood origin for its dissolving pulp operations in South Africa and the USA are key to providing brand owners and consumers with the assurance and confidence that their products originate from sustainable and renewable sources of wood.
Forbes Magazine recognised the efforts in their Blockchain 50 List of 2021, featuring companies that lead in using distributed-ledger technology and have revenue or a valuation of at least $1-billion. The 2021 list recognises Sappi and 21 newcomers. Over 250 supply chain partners, including Walmart and Marks & Spencer, use GreenTrack to verify the sustainability of the apparel they sell.