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Tiffany & Co. Details Progress, Opportunities in Quest for Sustainable Luxury

This week, Tiffany & Co. released its sixth annual Sustainability Report, which outlines the jeweler’s continued progress in corporate social responsibility, commitment to the environment, and contributions to the communities across 30+ countries in which it operates.

“Of the many reasons to take pride in Tiffany, none is more important than our long-held commitment to the environment and its people,” said Tiffany CEO Frederic Cumenal. “World-class leadership in sustainability among great luxury brands is rooted in a humble understanding of our impact on, and thus responsibility to, the world.”

The 2015 Sustainability Report provides an overview of the company’s efforts around Tiffany’s most material environmental and social issues. Among new and noteworthy sustainability achievements and commitments, Tiffany has:

  • Set a new target to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as part of an iniative launched by The B Team, asking world leaders to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • Announced a multimillion-dollar internal Green Fund dedicated to global energy efficiency, renewable energy and other projects that generate cost, carbon and resource savings.
  • Supported the creation of Marine Protected Areas through The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, now totaling 14, which since 2014 protect more than 4 million square kilometers of ocean, an area twice the size of Mexico.
  • Appointed the company’s first chief sustainability officer, Anisa Kamadoli Costa.
  • Illuminated every new store opened in 2015 with energy-efficient LEDs. Now over 100 Tiffany stores have LED lighting.
  • Committed to remove commodity-driven deforestation from key supply chains by 2020, consulting with the Rainforest Alliance and focusing on finding sustainable and recycled sources of materials for its consumer packaging, including its Tiffany Blue Boxes and bags, catalogs and products.
  • Joined the U.S. World Wildlife Trafficking Alliance to encourage the jewelry industry to eliminate illicit products, including coral and ivory, from their supply chains.

The report also highlights Tiffany’s efforts to responsibly source its diamonds and metals; the jeweler says it has implemented a strategy that gives it a strong chain of custody, direct oversight of its internal manufacturing and a voice for improving global standards and conditions.

In 2014, Tiffany and over 100 of the world’s leading jewelers and retailers committed to abide by Earthworks' No Dirty Gold (NDG) campaign’s Golden Rules, under which the companies pledged to study their metals supply chains, revise their supplier sourcing criteria to include the Golden Rules, increase recycled gold content and seek more responsibly produced metals. Now, Tiffany reports that 99 percent of the raw precious metals procured by its internal manufacturing facilities can now be traced either directly to a mine or recycler.

As for diamonds, 100 percent of its rough diamonds are reportedly sourced either directly from a known mine or from a supplier with multiple known mines, and only from countries that participate in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme – which requires its members to certify shipments of rough diamonds as 'conflict-free' and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade.

While the Kimberley Process – whose 54 participants represent 81 countries and account for approximately 99.8 percent of the global production of rough diamonds – has significantly reduced the financing of civil wars from diamonds, Tiffany says it has not adequately addressed other pressing issues in the global diamond supply chain and needs to expand its definition of “conflict free.” For example, despite the fact that Zimbabwe and Angola comply with the Kimberley Process, Tiffany says that widely reported human rights abuses persist throughout their supply chains, which is why the company refuses to purchase rough or polished diamonds from Zimbabwean or Angolan sources. Furthermore, it has implemented a Diamond Source Warranty Protocol, which requires diamond vendors to provide a warranty that loose polished diamonds were not obtained from these countries.

“The Kimberley Process can’t keep diamonds tainted with abuse out of international markets, so companies like Tiffany have started to do it themselves,” Arvind Ganesan, Director of Business and Human Rights at Human Rights Watch, is quoted as saying in the report. “By controlling their diamond supply chain, defending journalists exposing problems in the sector, and openly speaking about Kimberley’s problems, Tiffany is taking steps that others should follow.”

As for other precious gems, Tiffany acknowledges that traceability levels are not the same as they are for diamonds and precious metals; the jeweler says it will continue to engage with its suppliers and conduct research on various colored gemstones and producer countries to find ways to achieve greater transparency and responsible sourcing.