With sustainability leaders calling for big business to do more in creating circular economies, the world’s largest jewellery brand Pandora is the kind of good news story that they have in mind.
The company has announced it is now sourcing only recycled silver and gold for all its jewellery, two years ahead of its 2025 target.
This means that the company, valued at €3.6bn (US $3.9bn), will avoid creating an estimated 58,000 tons of CO2 every year – the equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 11,000 homes, or driving 6,000 cars around the world, the company says.
Headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, Pandora employs 32,000 people worldwide and creates its jewellery at two facilities in Thailand.
Silver and gold are the most used precious metals in Pandora jewellery. It first set its ambitious recycling targets in 2020, and says it has reached its goal early “thanks to strong commitment from our suppliers”.
Pandora explains that all its suppliers have had to switch their operations to only source materials that are certified recycled according to the Responsible Jewellery Council Chain of Custody – one of the strictest standards in the industry.
For many, this meant introducing new processes and equipment to ensure the complete segregation of mined and recycled metals across the entire supply chain – including sorting, melting, and manufacturing. A total of 100 Pandora employees have been involved in the transition work.
The carbon footprint of recycled silver is roughly one-third of mined silver. The recycling of gold, meanwhile, emits less than 1% of the carbon emissions from mining new gold.
The company says that, “allowing time for the depletion of existing inventory of metals, we will be crafting all new jewellery with 100% recycled silver and gold from the second half of 2024”. It added that in 2023, 97% of silver and gold sourced for its jewellery was recycled.
“Precious metals can be recycled forever without any loss of quality. Silver originally mined centuries ago is just as good as new, and improved recycling can significantly reduce the climate footprint of the jewellery industry,” said CEO Alexander Lacik.
In terms of the global jewellery market, less than 20% of the world’s silver supply comes from recycled sources – which are typically sourced from discarded electronics, old jewellery, silverware, manufacturing scrap and other waste from industry.
Once collected, recycled silver undergoes a refining process where impurities are removed, and the metal is recast to be used again.
Sustainability leaders continue to call for companies to do more about investing in circular economy initiatives.
In a recent paper, leading sustainability body The Ellen MacArthur Foundation urged supply chain chiefs to be proactive about embracing circular economy measures.
Meanwhile, another report, from the Capgemini Research Institute, shows that sustainability investment in automotive organisations has stagnated, with just 37% of organisations considering sustainability, carbon footprint, and environmental risk when making their supply chain decisions.