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Waste Not
Pandora Commits to 100% Circular Silver, Gold by 2025

The company says it will also work with suppliers to increase the availability of recycled silver — its most used material — and improve production standards.

Danish jewelry giant Pandora announced this week that it will not use any newly mined silver or gold in its jewelry by 2025. The company says this shift will cut carbon emissions by two-thirds for silver — the most used material in Pandora jewelry — and by more than 99% for gold.

Pandora — the world’s largest jewelry brand — says that 71 percent of the silver and gold in its jewelry already comes from recycled sources. Shifting completely to recycled silver and gold will reduce CO2 emissions, water usage and other environmental impacts, because recycling of metals uses less resources than mining new metals. The carbon emissions from sourcing recycled silver are one-third compared to mined silver; while recycling of gold emits approximately 600 times less carbon than mining new gold, according to life cycle assessments.

“Silver and gold are beautiful jewelry materials that can be recycled forever without losing their quality — metals mined centuries ago are just as good as new,” said CEO Alexander Lacik. “For many years, Pandora has used recycled metals in our designs. Now we are ready to take the next step and stop using mined silver and gold altogether. We wish to help develop a more responsible way of crafting affordable luxury like our jewelry, and prevent that these fine metals end up in landfills. We want to do our part to build a more circular economy.”

Pandora’s efforts join that of an industry that’s slowly mobilizing to prioritize sustainable sourcing — in 2019, Tiffany & Co committed to 100 percent traceability for each of its newly sourced diamonds; and, along with Apple, partnered to launch Salmon Gold™ — an innovative approach to sourcing gold responsibly while restoring fish habitats. And actress Nikki Reed’s jewelry company, BaYou with Love, made headlines in 2018 when it unveiled its “Circular Collection” of pieces made of recycled gold from the motherboards of end-of-life Dell computers.

Speaking of which, recovering precious metals from used electronics — so-called “urban mining” — not only keeps those metals in use much longer, it’s an incredible cost-saving strategy: According to the United Nations’ 2018 Global E-waste Monitor report, it costs 13 times more to obtain metals such as gold and copper from ore than from urban mining. Plus, a 2017 analysis of wastewater treatment plants in Switzerland found roughly 6,500 pounds of gold, palladium, platinum and silver — waste from the country’s watch-making industry — are literally being flushed down the drain each year. So, abundant “urban” sources already exist for these precious metals, it’s just a matter of establishing sufficient infrastructure for diverting them from landfills and sewers.

Pandora’s decision to use recycled precious metals follows its announcement in January of its goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. The jeweler has also joined the Science Based Targets initiative, and says it will publish a plan in 2021 to reduce  emissions in its full value chain in line with the Paris Agreement.

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