Pandora, known for its affordable sterling-silver charm bracelets, is the world’s largest jewelry company by volume: The Danish chain sells more than 100 million pieces annually. This week, she announced that she is now buying only 100-percent-recycled silver and gold for her collection.
The move was described as an important step by a large company in reducing its environmental impact. “We wanted to lead by example,” Alexander Lasik, Pandora’s chief executive, said in an interview. “If we can make a positive contribution to society through the use of recycled gold and silver, it means anyone can do the same.”
By working with metals that have already been mined, Pandora will not have to dig deeper in search of new materials, allowing the company to substantially reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Mining requires more energy and resources than recycling and is a major source of mercury pollution, in 2020 News release In announcing its shift toward recycled metals, Pandora cited data from the World Gold Council and other entities showing that the process of recycling gold reduces emissions by approximately 99 percent compared to mining, while Recycling silver reduces carbon emissions by approximately 66 percent compared to mining. ,
Other brands like Prada and Monica Vinader have also started using recycled metals. But some industry observers warn that those ingredients may seem more potent than they actually are.
Like “sustainability”, the word “recycled” can mean different things to different people. This interpretation difference could prove problematic, said Tiffany Stevens, chief executive of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee in New York City, which focuses on ethics and policy advocacy in the industry.
“Recyclability is a positive modifier in most contexts, but not necessarily when it comes to gold or silver,” he said. The word “recycled”, he added, gives jewelery made from such materials an aura of being “green” or eco-friendly.
But the term “doesn’t give people any clear answers about where their metals came from,” Ms. Stevens said, which is why her organization and others. Asked The Federal Trade Commission will not allow the use of “recycled” to describe jewelry products sold in the United States. The FTC is expected to respond this year when it issues updates to its environmental marketing guidelines.
those guidelines currently says That “it is misleading to imply, directly or by implication, that an item contains recycled content unless it is made from materials that have been recovered or otherwise removed from the waste stream.” However, precious metals are not generally considered waste, as they are melted and reused over centuries and usually retain their value.
The term “recycled” can also obscure the origin of some metals, such as metals obtained by so-called cowboy miners, or illegal refiners who are known to use child labor or run operations. financing the activities of criminal networks, Patrick Schein, a refiner and board member of the Alliance for Responsible Mining, said the term could create the illusion that the recycling process always produces “nascent gold that is ethically acceptable.”
The Alliance for Responsible Mining, an advocacy group, has promoted other ways to improve the jewelry industry’s supply chains, including supporting programs from groups like the Better Gold Association for companies that refine metals more responsibly. Works with small-scale miners.
“Buying recycled gold in particular excludes the sector, which employs many people who already face vulnerable conditions,” Read 2020 statement Issued by the coalition and other organizations.
Mr Lasik said the shift to sourcing only recycled metals at Pandora was based more on environmental factors, rather than how it might affect small-scale miners, a group that produces about two-fifths of the world’s mercury population. Is, According to 2018 UN report,
“You have to decide: Is the climate issue more or less important to particular communities,” he said. “In our case, we think getting a grip on the climate issue and driving progress is a bigger topic for humanity in the long run.”
While using recycled metals could reduce Pandora’s environmental footprint, mining new Sleep And silver This has not slowed down in the past decade, which suggests that companies’ growing interest in such materials has done little to offset the overall climate impact of mining.
A team of 100 employees have been involved in the switch to recycled metals at Pandora, which shifted from mining to lab-grown diamonds in 2021. Processes and equipment need to be adapted to changes in metal sourcing as per prescribed measures Responsible Jewelery CouncilA group in London recognized for setting global standards.
Among Pandora’s suppliers of recycled metals is MKS PAMP, a Swiss refinery and trader. “We know every single source in our supply chain and can tell you what goes to whom,” said Xavier Miserez, the refinery’s head of sales. “Zero risk does not exist but we try to reduce it as much as possible.”
Pandora plans to pay about $10 million annually for the recycled metals. That’s more than we’d pay for newly minted ones, Mr. Lasik said, “but it’s a cost we’re willing to bear.”
“I’m also realistic about how important it is to jewelry buyers,” he said, noting that most are driven by two main factors: design and price. “Some people may ask about sustainable production – but many don’t.”