Strategies for Attracting STEM Students to Industry Go

A recent article from the Portland Press Herald describes the success of the University of Maine’s efforts to place engineering students in the pulp & paper industry.  100% job placement is an outstanding track record that few programs can match.

In support of these efforts the university has a high school outreach program called Consider Engineering, a scholarship program and an ongoing effort to place students in industrial co-op jobs and internships.  At Sappi, we have supported all of these efforts for years and will continue to do so.

In our 2013 Sustainability Report we highlighted a recent commitment of an additional $100,000 for the Pulp & Paper Foundation’s scholarship program, our employees routinely volunteer for the outreach program, and the student quoted in the Portland Press article, Kelsey Bolduc, will be working as an intern at our Somerset Mill this fall.  We have also pledged support to the University of Southern Maine as well as the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet, MN.

We routinely hear from students and new hires that the pulp in paper industry is “under-rated” or “way more technically challenging” and “far more rewarding” than they had imagined.  A critical step in recruiting is to simply create the awareness of the industry and let them see a paper mill first hand.  There is nothing else quite like it.  And, of course, there are many jobs in the industry that are not directly tied to operations.

Speaking from personal experience, I know that these collective efforts make a difference.  As an undergraduate student at the University of New Hampshire in the 1980’s, I had an opportunity to visit Sappi’s Westbrook Mill on a field trip – an event that literally changed my life.  I went on to study pulp and paper science at the Institute of Paper Science and Technology (on a full scholarship) and after living in the southeast for most of my 20’s and 30’s made it back to New England when I joined Sappi in 2006.

In the course of my career, I have had held positions in R&D, as a mill environmental engineer, in product development, business development and most recently in the field of sustainable development.  I have traveled much of the US and Canada, as well as to Europe and South Africa.  I have also had the opportunity to work with a breadth of organizations including NGO’s, trade associations, customers, equipment manufacturers, design firms, the media  and government agencies.  And I’m only just past the mid-point of my career.

The opportunities in our industry are plentiful.  But we must continue to create the visibility and make the effort to tell our stories.  Kudos to the University of Maine for continuing to do so.

This video captures the essence of a small family logging business that supplies wood to our Cloquet mill.  You’ll see great footage of the equipment they use and the conditions they face during Minnesota winters.  As a third generation logger, the owner hopes that one or more of his six grandchildren will want to carry on the tradition of the family business.  Who knows, maybe one day they’ll have to change their name to Lovdahl & Sons & Daughters.

Sustainability Infographics from Sappi Go

We are all familiar with the phrase that “a picture paints a thousand words.”  And perhaps more to the point - with visual communication - we don’t have to take the time to read a thousand words to fully grasp a concept.

Our 2013 Sustainability Report is full of original photographic images that showcase the investments in our mills, our employees and our engagement in local communities.  We have also introduced another powerful infographic that focuses on Water Usage in the Papermaking.   In prior years we have used infographics to convey the life cycle of papermaking and another to illustrate the challenges and trade-offs associated with using recycled fiber in coated fine papers.  Due to popular demand, each of these infographics is now available for download on our eQ microsite as well as our etc site.

Market research and the growing field of neuromarketing indicate that people react differently to the tactile experience of print than to electronic communication. Print is better at establishing an emotional connection and recall. So if your aim is mere transmission of data or account information, there may be more efficient ways of communicating that than paper. Use of electronic media might be the “smart” choice. But if your aim is to cut through the clutter of email bombardment, and build your brand through a “lean back” experience—then a well designed, beautifully photographed, brilliantly printed piece on great paper is the smart choice.

Jennifer Miller

EVP Coated Business and Chief Sustainability Officer

Taken from a Q&A in our 2013 Sustainability Report (p.8)

Downloaded by clicking here

Practical examples for creating employee awareness about sustainability Go

At Sappi, we have enlisted a group of employees to serve as Sustainability Ambassadors.  Working in teams, Ambassadors at each of our locations help to support communications, conduct employee training and coordinate community outreach events.  Below, I’ve listed just a few of the practical approaches for creating employee awareness that have been implemented across our organization.

  • All employees receive copies of our annual Sustainability Report.  Several of our locations have designed multiple-choice quizzes based on the content within the report. 
  • Our corporate office in South Portland established an “eQube” (building on our eQ brand).  It’s a set of office cubicles dedicated to sustainability.  In addition to being a resource for printed materials like our eQ Journal, there is a collection of letters that we have received from community partners thanking us for various events and contributions. The eQube also serves as a collection point for ongoing recycling drives including eyeglasses, cell phones and CD’s.
  • The bulletin board in our Technology Center routinely feature articles in magazines, white papers that we have published and occasionally I’ll see one of my blog posts dug up out of the archive, printed and posted.
  • Lunch-and-learns seem to be the preferred format for training in our Boston office.  Adding appropriate theme music during lunch, a pop quiz, or any form of competition always makes for a lively event.  Tee-shirts with one of our recycling logos are always a popular contest prize.
  • In addition to a sustainability feature in our quarterly employee newsletter, the Ambassadors set up a SharePoint site to share pictures and summaries of various outreach activities.  Entitled “eQ Updates” (again building on our brand) the site creates visibility to activities across the entire organization.   
  • Internal experts make incredible (and cost efficient) guest speakers.  For example, our foresters have an unbridled passion for their work and always have a significant impact on the audience when we can get them out of the woods and into one of our locations. 
  • We have a welcome sign at the entry of our Somerset mill – the Ambassadors will routinely rotate messages on the sign to be consistent with their sustainability theme of the month.

Each of these individual examples has been conceived of and implemented by the Ambassadors.  The style of execution varies and is designed to suit the sub-culture at each location. Collectively, these efforts serve as another example of our commitment to sustainability and ultimately support employee engagement. 

In this video you’ll hear straight from a well known ambassador for the forest: Mr. Santa Claus.  Among other important messages, Santa says, “The best gift we can give each other, now and every Christmas, is a healthy planet.  Looking after the forest is a key part of that.

If you want to learn more about responsible forestry, be sure to check our our eQ Journal Issue 4: Removing the Guilt from Paper.  While not officially endorsed by Santa, I’m sure he’d approve.  

Highlights from the 2013 Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s Annual Conference. This video is well worth the 5 minutes of viewing - capturing the breadth of SFI’s impact; touching community partners, research collaborations, logger outreach and more.  So happy to see the recognition of Hans Wegner from The National Geographic Society, a great quote from Nina Goodrich at GreenBlue, recognition of our Maine and Minnesota implementation committees and more.  If you look closely at the end you’ll see our tie to sponsoring the student program.

Rethinking recycled fiber: using facts and science to combat common myths Go

When I assumed my current role with Sappi our leadership made it clear from day one that we would not shy away from tackling tough issues.  We made a commitment that our sustainability communications would be grounded in facts and science – and the tagline of “proof versus empty promises” from our first eQ Journal remains my mantra.

While society as a whole continues to make great strides in thinking more holistically – considering environmental and social impacts of products from material acquisition through disposal – there remain huge gaps in understanding on some basic issues.  When it comes to paper, the myths and facts about the use of recycled content are still being debated.  

A common myth: using recycled fiber is always better for the environment

The facts: it depends on the product and the mill of manufacture.

Paper is simply not one thing – paper products are used in a wide variety of common applications like tissue, packaging and communication papers. And there are a host of specialty applications ranging from building  materials (eg. insulation, counter tops and flooring) to automotive applications (like gaskets and brake liners).  Different types of paper products require different types of pulp fibers to produce them  - and in some cases, using recycled fiber simply doesn’t make sense – environmentally or economically.

I often ask people to pause and consider the differences between an egg carton and a premium printing grade like Somerset web.  Egg cartons are often made of recycled newsprint;  mottled grey in appearance because the paper didn’t have to be deinked.  For our use, post consumer waste must be deinked, bleached and cleaned to remove any type of contaminant.  Intuitively, many people can see that given a choice – it makes more sense to use recovered paper in applications that require less treatment and creates less waste.

To help further quantify the overall impacts, we embarked on a cradle-to-gate analysis of greenhouse gas emissions for our mills.  This type of analysis is complex and it literally took us years of work to select a modeling tool, learn the tool, and then build a model for our operations.

The results are clear:  adding recycled fiber to products made at our Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, ME actually increased the carbon footprint of those products.  Specifically, adding 10% recycled content raises the carbon footprint by 16% over the same product made with virgin fiber.

For a detailed look at our LCA journey, readers can download copies of our whitepaper series.  We have completed three issues on the Life Cycle Assessment of Paper Products as follows:

Volume 4.1   Part One - The Basics

Volume 4.2  Part Two - The Impact of Methodology on the Life Cycle Analysis of Paper Products

Volume 4.3Part Three - The Carbon Footprint of Sappi’s Somerset Mill and the Impact of Recycled Fiber

Rest assured: we are strong advocates for recycling outreach and education.  All of Sappi’s coated fine papers are recyclable and we always encourage the use of “please recycle” logos and claims on printed pieces.  As individuals, we all have opportunities to recycle more paper.  Once paper is recovered, the key is to put that fiber to best use.

If I had one thing to say, it wouldn’t even be about rivers necessarily. It would be about finding a cause that’s dear to you and taking action…. Change is slow, like a barge or a train, but once it builds momentum, it’s hard to stop.

Chad Pregracke

As quoted by CNN reporters Kathleen Toner and Erika Clarke.

Click here to read “Taking out the rivers’ trash, one piece at a time

Sappi has been a sponsor of Living Lands and Waters since 2007.

How do you transform from a hand-fishing hillbilly to a national hero? Go

If you are Chad Pregracke – the answer is simple – you live your dream.  And it helps if you are the Hardest Working DoGooder in America.

As a corporate sponsor since 2007, we’re very proud to announce that Chad Pregracke, Living Lands & Waters’ Founder and President, has been selected as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2013! For their extraordinary efforts to change the world, each of the nominees will receive $50,000 and be recognized at “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” a globally broadcast event that airs December 1.  

One of the top 10 will receive an additional $250,000 for their cause if the public chooses them as the CNN Hero of the Year. 

Just imagine the good work that Chad and his team could do with $250,000.  Let’s help him clean up our rivers, plant more trees and reach more students and teachers with his powerful message.  

How can you help?

This part is easy. Vote.  Vote now.  

Cast your vote for Chad at 

And vote tomorrow.  Vote every day from now through November 17 using your email address and/or via Facebook.

The winner will be revealed during the tribute show, which will be hosted by Anderson Cooper at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on Sunday, December 1, 2013, at 7pm CST on CNN.

You can also help spread the word by  posting this link on your Facebook and Twitter accounts to help Chad become 2013’s CNN Hero of  the Year!