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Sappi invests in AI research to promote sustainability

July 19, 2018  By P&PC staff

Dame Polly Courtice

July 19, 2018 – Sappi is funding research into artificial intelligence in an effort to bring carbon emissions to net zero within the pulp and paper industry.

Sappi Limited, a leading global producer of dissolving wood pulp, speciality and packaging papers, graphic (printing and writing) paper and biomaterials, is one of the founding partners of The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Program.

The three-to-five-year fellowships, announced last week by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), will attract academics from around the world to identify breakthrough solutions to meet the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). At launch eight Fellowships have been funded.

The Sappi supported fellowship will focus on the UN sustainable development goal, “Reshaping the future of industry” (SDG9). It aims to build on Sappi’s current engagement with the CISL by investigating how trends of innovation and sustainability will come together to reshape the future of industry – looking at the paper and pulp industry as an initial example and examining drivers including the rise of artificial intelligence and the need to bring carbon emissions to net zero.


“We have been engaging at a group and European level with Dame Polly Courtice and the CISL team since 2013,” Steve Binnie, chief executive officer of Sappi Limited, said. “They have helped and supported our European industry efforts related to the Green Growth Platform, the development of a new low carbon pulp technology (DES), exploring financing options to support industry’s transformation and investigating block-chain technology for timber certification. The challenge for the pulp and paper industry is how to be much more effective than today, both in our journey towards durable sustainability and to the need for economic vitality and employment for future generations. This fellowship program and the research it will deliver will help take this work forward. We live in an age of hyper-innovation and we take responsibility for making it work positively. That is why we have chosen a subject which joins the desire and need for sustainable materials with the most revolutionary technology to appear for over a generation – that of artificial intelligence. We anticipate that the fellowship program will deliver students with a profound knowledge and understanding of these issues which will help drive new solutions for us and others, creating exciting opportunities far into the future.”

CISL, a 30-year old Institute with 80 staff and a network of 8,000 alumni and 250 companies, will host the fellowship program alongside its existing industry collaborations and executive education programmes to foster an exchange of knowledge and ideas.

Speaking at the launch of the fellowship, Dame Polly Courtice, director of the CISL said, “The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Program will create a rich intellectual space for collaboration between researchers and industry as we seek breakthrough ideas and leadership actions to towards meeting the UN sustainable development goals.”

Over and above Sappi’s topic of industrial transformation, the other confirmed research topics include social and environmental accounting; investing in sustainable communities; sustainable health; radical innovation and disruption; the role of responsible business in the community; inclusive growth; pathways to a circular economy.

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