Jewelry giant Pandora has big ambitions: by 2025, the world’s largest jewelry brand by volume, will use 100 percent recycled silver and gold in its products.
As it stands, 71 percent of the silver and gold in Pandora jewelry comes from recycled sources. And the company sells a lot of jewelry: Fast Company noted that last year, it sold 96 million pieces of jewelry, or roughly 750,000 pounds of silver, more than any other company in the industry. Pandora said it uses palladium, copper, and man-made stones, such as nano-crystals and cubic zirconia, in its products but the volume of those materials is small compared to its use of silver, which accounts for over half of all purchased product materials measured by weight.
So, how will the company close the 29 percent gap between the amount of recycled silver and gold it uses now and what it hopes to use five years from now? It plans to engage with key stakeholders in its supply chain, which will be vital.
Pandora is a member of the Responsible Jewelry Council, which sets sustainability standards for the industry on matters ranging from labor to toxics to emissions, and Twomey-Madsen said the company plans to engage with the council on certification as it works toward its latest goal. The company was able to reach its current 71 percent recycled content rate by obtaining that content on its own, melting the metals, and then crafting the jewelry themselves. But the company also buys semi-finished jewelry pieces from other sources.
One challenge is that the amount of recycled silver available is pretty low. With that in mind, Pandora plans to help build up the supply. And electronic waste could be a significant source for “mining” recycled silver (and gold). There is a lot of e-waste but only about 20 percent of it is formally recycled, with the rest being informally recycled or going to the landfill.
To further move toward its larger goal of reaching carbon neutrality, Pandora is thinking about how the company might reduce its footprint in other parts of the business. For example, as the world reopens after shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company plans to reduce the energy it uses in its retail stores as it related to lighting and heating. The company is developing new store concepts to shift the lighting installations and also adjusting its procurement policies for electricity in its network so that its stores are more energy efficient, and that it is sourced from renewable sources sourced wherever possible.
All in all, though, it’s the shifting from partially virgin metals to 100 percent recycled metals that will make the big difference for Pandora.