Sappi North America, which has a mill in Cloquet, received a 2019 SEAL Business Sustainability Award for Environmental Leadership, according to a news release.

The award honors companies for specific environmental and sustainability initiatives. The efforts are measured by impact metrics, innovation, insights and investment efforts, the news release said.

Sappi was honored specifically for the land application program at the Cloquet mill. The program began in 2004 as a way to overcome an impending problem with landfill space, the news release said. The mill produces coated printing papers; dissolving wood pulp; packaging and specialty papers; and casting and release papers. Dissolving wood pulp is the main raw material used to produce rayon for clothing.

The land application program repurposes boiler ash and lime mud byproducts into a sustainable agricultural fertilizer that is accessible to the local community at minimal cost. To date, the mill has provided 200 tons of materials to 300 sites per year with farmers seeing a 30% increase in crop yield, according to the news release.

Tom Radovich, managing director of the Cloquet mill, said in the news release that the company worked with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's ag-lime program, as well as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to create the program.

"Our investment in sustainable production and waste is a continued priority for the leadership team at Sappi, and this award is a proud moment for the all the employees and community members involved," Radovich said.

Sappi's Cloquet mill is the only participant of the land application program. Company leadership continues to develop similar programs to reduce waste effectively at other mills in the effort to reach the goal of zero-waste facilities, the news release said.

Sappi employs 700 people in the Cloquet area and around 12,000 worldwide. Radovich, a 25-year veteran of the mill, was named managing director in December.