As what’s considered the largest global jewelry company by volume — and with silver as the company’s core business — the move is what Stephen Fairchild, chief product officer at Pandora, called “the extra step” for Pandora and a “game-changer” for the industry.
Pandora has long ranked highly for its transparency, in publications such as Morgan Stanley’s yearly Environmental, Social and Governmental report and in independent audits by trade group the Responsible Jewellery Council.
“I think it’s important that it’s not just us but our entire value chain,” said Fairchild, who reiterates that recycled silver is nothing new in the industry, certainly not for Pandora, but holistic sustainability is still a challenge not yet conquered broadly.
Today, Pandora already uses all recycled gold and 88-percent recycled silver in its crafting facilities, one of which is a LEED Gold Certified facility in northern Thailand, according to a 2018 company sustainability report.
But as with many industries, jewelry comes with hidden costs including but not limited to toxic tailings as byproduct, and human rights infringements surrounding child labor in certain conflict-torn regions.
At present, where Pandora’s remaining silver is mined, it comes from the Responsible Jewelry Council and London Bullion Market Association (LBMA)-certified refiners to maintain due diligence in such ethical and environmental standards.
However, buying and using fully recycled gold and silver materials is still the ultimate goal for the Danish company.
In a cost analysis conducted for Pandora, recycled gold and silver severely cuts the environmental cost compared to mined metals — by more than 95 percent. It parallels findings from the Diamond Producers Association in its 2019 large-scale diamond mining report, which found clearing and mining accounts for about 95 percent of the overall carbon footprint.
A year ago in April, Pandora leaned into omnichannel, building out both digital customer experience as well as in-store capabilities, and the move to fully recycled silver and gold come astride existing values that align with today’s consumer. The company also committed to becoming fully carbon neutral by 2025.
In either case, why 2025?
Whether it be the process of vetting new vendors or improving production standards alongside existing partners — the 2025 target means allotting time to bring the entire value chain up to par, according to Fairchild.
With a mere five years to take on this task, the momentum does not cease there. Eventually, Fairchild hopes to see Pandora come out with its own recycled silver hallmark and implement a take-back program.
Until then, he adds: “We have to turn over every stone and live by our values.”
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