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  • Writer's pictureShelly Peterson

Sappi - Unlocking the Power of Renewable Resources to Benefit People, Communities and Planet

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

Strategic investments into the globally based Sappi Cloquet mill to diversify production streams have poised them well to weather market trends. In May 2021, Sappi Cloquet was named one of the 2021 Top 100 U.S. Exporters by the Journal of Commerce. Yes, that’s right, Sappi Cloquet is one of the top 100 U.S. exporters for 2021, which is incredible. Sappi’s Cloquet Mill produces high-quality graphic papers. The mill can swing production between paper-grade pulp for internal consumption and dissolving pulp (DP) for the open market. Sappi’s integrated pulp and paper mill in Cloquet is the most modern pulp mill operating in the U.S. By utilizing Continuous Batch Cooking, Sappi achieves extended delignification while maintaining high yield and strength properties. In 2013, Sappi further modernized the pulp mill by adding two additional batch digesters, an acid pre-hydrolysis stage and an ozone bleaching stage. These changes, along with modifications to Sappi’s wood yard and pulp dryer, enable the Cloquet Mill to make either dissolving pulp for the textile market or bleached kraft pulp used for papermaking. The Cloquet Mill produces premium publication grades, GalerieArt, Opus and McCoy, and dissolving pulp (DP), an additive in textiles, pharmaceutical, and household products. Sappi Cloquet annually produces 340,000 metric tons of coated woodfree paper and 370,000 metric tons of dissolving pulp with a workforce of 700 people.

The Cloquet Mill, located on the banks of the St Louis River, began in 1898 as Northwest Paper Company with the iconic vintage “Mountie” branding materials (the red-coated horse riders). In 1964 the Cloquet Mill became Potlach and Sappi in 2002. The Cloquet mill is part of the fabric of the community and its identity. Employment at the mill spans generations, as does pride in the mill’s culture of hard work and a “can-do attitude.” Sappi’s vision is focused on People, Prosperity, and Planet, and they dynamically adapt to transportation logistics, consumer markets, and the workforce.

So what do people often not know about Sappi? Let’s get the root of that, literally, as it’s all about the trees. Sappi is a diversified forest products company rooted in the core value of sustainability. They invest an incredible amount of resources in implementing continuous environmental improvements in energy use, waste and pollution prevention, forestry planning, and more. Their supply source or the products they produce are from trees, a sustainable renewable resource that is biodegradable. With the shift in 2013 to making dissolving pulp, Sappi has diversified into packing materials, litho-laminates, and other specialties.

Their skilled workforce is derived from college graduates with technical degrees. Their modern manufacturing facilities offer cutting-edge technical jobs, for Sappi actively recruits workers. Positions at the Cloquet mill focus on mechanical, electrical, civil, computer science, chemical paper science, environmental, forestry, and more. Sappi has a co-op program and several internship programs. Employees at the Cloquet Mill are committed to giving back to their local communities. They regularly volunteer their time, make financial contributions to a range of community organizations, and coordinate outreach efforts to non-profit groups such as the United Way, the local fire and police departments, and over 20 local school programs. Mill leadership is committed to the local community and participates in several local boards and committees across various organizations.

A few interesting facts to share, Sappi Cloquet’s window of time to obtain wood supplies is limited, due to road restrictions and timber harvest wildlife management limitations; most wood is purchased during a short timeframe, December 1 to March 15; in March it is common to see trucks backed up to bring in wood before spring road restrictions during that time it is common for Sappi Cloquet to bring in 300to 400 trucks into the scales daily, with very little traffic in comparison during the summer.

Another point of interest, the massive pile of wood chips in the “front yard” of Sappi Cloquet is measured in burning hours, not days of supply.

“Sappi Cloquet conducts 46 cooks a day, and those wood chips get used quickly. That massive pile out front isn’t very much; that will only last us three days; there isn’t a lot out there,” said Managing Director Tom Radovich.

Sappi is headquartered in South Africa, and Sappi North America has the facilities of Matane Mill (Quebec, Canada), Somerset Mill (Skowhegan, Maine), Westbrook Mill, and Technology Center (Westbrook, Maine). Sappi is highly awarded, cutting edge, and is committed to collaboration in: Barrier and coating applications, Biochemicals, Biocomposites, Bio-energy, Digital printing solutions, Eco-effectiveness, Fabric recycling, Lignin, Packaging and specialties, and Xylose.


2201 Avenue B

PO Box 511

Cloquet, MN 55720

(218) 879-2300

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