Sustainability Report: Local Communities
We take great pride in the local footprint we have established in the communities in which we operate.
Sappi’s history within North America dates back to the 1850s and it’s no surprise our civic involvement has also been active from the very beginning. Strong collaboration between Sappi and local institutions, organizations and partners reflects Sappi’s commitment to support the community. In turn, the community is able to fulfill more needs in areas like research and education, creating a positive cycle of mutual benefits.
Over the past several years, we have developed a strong corps of Sustainability Ambassadors throughout the organization. Each manufacturing location, corporate office and the field sales team has a Lead Ambassador to help act as a point person to coordinate activities. The role of the Ambassador has been defined along three elements: supporting sustainability communication efforts, conducting training and fostering community engagement. The grassroots work that the Ambassadors conduct throughout the year is critical to creating awareness of key environmental and social issues and is seen as a core to the success of the company. Examples of activities include river cleanups and trail maintenance, papermaking demonstrations with local schools and community partners (such as Girl Scouts), recycling and e-waste drives and “theme of the month” sustainability training programs. In 2013 the ambassadors developed eQ Updates, a company-wide electronic newsletter, designed to help celebrate the achievements of employees, exchange ideas for communications efforts and future events and cultivate a greater sense of community among Sappi employees.
Our investments in people extend well beyond our existing workforce. In 2013 we announced three strategic initiatives to support Science Engineering, Technology and Math (STEM) and other educational programs at targeted colleges and universities. We pledged a combined total contribution of US$250,000 for the University of Maine, the University of Southern Maine and the Fond du Lac Tribal Community College in Minnesota.
In addition to direct financial contributions, Sappi has longstanding relationships with other academic institutions. We routinely host tours of the mills for students and support co-op programs to provide work experience to undergraduates. Several of our employees serve as lecturers and advisors for local colleges and universities, and since 2012 Mark Gardner, President and CEO, has served on the Board of Trustees for the University of Maine System.
Many former recipients of pulp and paper scholarship programs work at all levels of leadership across the company, serving in various manufacturing and corporate positions. Targeted recruiting at local community colleges has proven to be very successful, particularly in hiring skilled workers to serve Electrician & Instrumentation roles at the mills.
Sappi also endeavors to reach students prior to entering college. Over the years, Sappi has backed the University of Maine’s Consider Engineering Program, an outreach program designed to attract high school students to engineering. This past year, Sustainability Ambassadors organized a two-day career counseling program for Codman Academy high school students to create awareness of the breadth of career opportunities with a manufacturing company.
Codman Academy is a public charter school located in Dorchester, Massachusetts, with a 100 percent graduation and college acceptance rate. Sappi has supported Codman for over 10 years, sponsoring events and trips, giving lectures and donating resources. Our two day career event offered a special occasion for ten Codman Academy high school juniors to have the chance to meet with our employees and discuss their background, interests and career paths. One-on-one mentoring sessions were held in Boston and the following day students visited the mill and our Technology Center in Westbrook, Maine.
Recreational Access to the River
Sappi operates six hydroelectric power stations along the Presumpscot River in Maine, providing renewable energy to our Westbrook Mill. The presence of these facilities impacts the local community in a variety of ways. By controlling water flow at dams, we directly manage the level of Sebago Lake and the volume of water in the river, both of which affect recreational activities such as boating and fishing. The lake level controls are mandated through a federal license which includes a plan aimed at addressing multiple stakeholder concerns. We also provide access to the river for activities such as tubing and fishing by providing parking, portage routes and infrastructure such as footbridges and stairways.
In addition to the physical infrastructure, in 2013 we also expanded our communication efforts by developing a blog. The site provides information about lake levels and river flows and also provides a forum to educate the public about general water safety rules and specifically dam safety.
Westbrook Mayor, Colleen Hilton, has clearly identified the river as central to the revitalization of the city. There are numerous efforts underway to get the community on the river; to move beyond a visual focal point and actually using the river for recreational purposes.
Sappi’s corporate sponsorships support partners focused on environmental stewardship and education. Two of our ongoing sponsorships include Living Lands and Waters, a nonprofit dedicated to forest conservation and cleaning up the nation’s waterways, and the New England Aquarium, which hosts a number of educational programs on endangered marine life and oceanic research. This year, SFPNA also supported WGBH, a Boston-based, global public broadcasting network. Our sponsored programming of the world-renowned NOVA series featured educational programs like a multi-segment show with science writer David Pogue of The New York Times.
For the past two years, Sappi has supported the student program for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s annual conference. Funding for travel coupled with mentoring provides a unique experience for forestry students to attend a world-class conference, make industry connections, and learn about career opportunities in the wood products industry.
Read the full SFPNA Sustainability Report 2013 by downloading an online PDF version directly from our website here or for more on sustainability, check out our eQ microsite at: http://www.na.sappi.com/eQ/index.html