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null Market Perspective: APP Japan’s Yu Yamazaki talks Sustainability, Competition, and the Future

Market Perspective: APP Japan’s Yu Yamazaki talks Sustainability, Competition and the Future

As a company with a global supply chain and products marketed in more than 150 countries across 6 continents, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinar Mas has to ensure its production process is sustainable when manufacturing its products. While it is guided by national policies and mandates for the forestry sector, its Forest Conservation Policy and Sustainability Roadmap Vision 2030 serves as a sustainability framework that covers three key pillars of its operations - Production, Forest & People.

APP believes that collectively, these three pillars will ensure that its products contribute to the circular bioeconomy, and it continues to be a responsible and sustainable business that adheres to global best practices on sustainability, climate action, carbon reduction, and Environment, Social & Governance principles.

Across the markets where APP has a presence, we are steadfast in our commitment to ensure sustainability across our supply chain through responsible sourcing and well-managed carbon, energy, and water consumption. A key to ensuring this is the people that we rely on to implement and enforce our policies and strategies.

One person who is a driving force in ensuring we stay on track for this is Yu Yamazaki, the Manager of Sustainability and Corporate Communications at APP Japan. He has been a vital part of APP Japan since 2010 and oversees public relations and stakeholder engagement through sustainability within the company and ensures good relations between APP Japan and all stakeholders.

As someone who works in the sustainability space, Yamazaki best understands the importance of being a sustainable and responsible company, and for APP to play a leadership role in driving this in a market like Japan where customers and consumers place a premium on the environment.

For example, Yamazaki shares that with a market share of over 20% for photocopy paper for over 10 years, APP Japan is not just a major supplier but plays a leading role in driving sustainable practices across the industry. With a presence as large as this, he emphasised the responsibility to meet consumer requests such as the transparency of our sustainability efforts with our stakeholders.

With the demand for companies to adopt digitalisation accelerating, leading to a shrinking paper market in Japan and North Asia, adding to climate change being high on the agenda for governments and customers, paper manufacturers like APP in Japan are facing tough times with low profitability and over capacity.

Yamazaki believes that these factors can pose more severe competition amongst paper manufacturers in the region. However, he also believes that APP Japan is well-positioned to meet the competition and emerge even stronger with its product portfolio.

‘’To fight climate change, investment and innovation are required. Major paper manufacturers should share how their CO2 emissions will be reduced by their business model changes, such as how our Sustainability Roadmap Vision 2030 has carbon neutrality goals,’’ Yamazaki said.

That is why APP Japan approaches sustainability in a way that covers a wide scope of areas. We want to focus on sharing how our products are made in a sustainable way because our stakeholders want to know more about it.

‘’My favourite part about working at APP Japan is that I like APP’s culture of challenging aggressively to meet targets. It is a special moment when you achieve tough targets through teamwork,’’ Yamazaki shared.

He is proud of APP’s commitment to achieving sustainable forest management, balancing conservation with production aspects through a landscape approach. In this aspect, the company works to protect and restore natural forests in concession areas as well as optimising forest management to ensure a sufficient supply of raw material from existing plantations to supply to APP’s pulp mills. Yamazaki also highlights the fact that 100% of APP’s fibre supply comes from sustainably-managed plantations.

Another APP initiative that gives him much pride is the Forest Restoration Project: SGDs Together. APPJ is supporting the project by donating part of its sales revenue and funds raised from stakeholders in Japan to the Belantara Foundation in Indonesia on a restoration project in Giam Siak Kecil Bukit Batu Biosphere Reserve in Riau. This is a 3-year program that will run from 2021 to 2023 with a target of 10 hectares per year.

He adds that APPJ customers have been supportive of this project and have even added the project logo to their product packaging which has helped to enhance awareness and visibility of the project.

Speaking on APP Japan’s future, Yamazaki said: ‘’We’ve done well and have built a strong branding and customer base in Japan. We’ve also responded well to market demands for manufacturers to be environmentally responsible and transparent in our operations and supply chain. There’s no room for complacency and no time to waste, so we need to continue and better still step up on our efforts to ensure we deliver quality products without sacrificing the climate and environment.’’

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