Pandora shifts to 100% recycled silver and gold ahead of schedule

The multinational firm, which is one of the largest in the jewellery sector, set a target to only use certified recycled silver and gold by the start of 2025. This week, it confirmed that it had achieved the milestone by the end of 2023.

The 100% mark had been achieved earlier with gold, in early 2023, than with silver. This is partly because gold accounts for less than 1% of Pandora’s total material sourcing; the brand sourced some 600 times as much silver in 2022 as it did gold.

Pandora still has some existing inventory using non-recycled metals but believes this will be sold through by the second half of 2024. All new Pandora products now only include silver and gold that have been certified as recycled according to the Responsible Jewellery Council Chain of Custody (RIC-COC) standard.

This standard requires a tamper-proof chain of audit proving that virgin and recycled metals are kept separate at all stages of the value chain from sorting and melting to manufacturing.

A Pandora spokesperson told edie that the implementation of the RIC-COC standard marked a significant change for many suppliers – not just in terms of reporting and disclosures but also due to necessary additional investments in changes to processing and equipment to properly segregate recycled metals.

Each year, the use of 100% recycled silver and gold will cost Pandora around $10m, compared with using virgin metals. The firm will absorb this cost rather than passing it on to shoppers.

“Precious metals can be recycled forever without any loss of quality,” said Pandora’s chief executive Alexander Lacik. “Silver originally mined centuries ago is just as good as new, and improved recycling can significantly reduce the climate footprint of the jewellery industry.”

Pandora is anticipating a 58,000-tonne reduction in its annual carbon footprint as a result of the changes. The firm has set a 2040 net-zero target and supporting 2030 emissions reductions goals aligned with the Science-Based Targets Initiative’s 1.5C pathway and has stated that implementing more circular practices is a “priority” to deliver this rate of decarbonisation.

Pandora claims that recycled silver produces 66% less life-cycle emissions than virgin, with the reduction standing at up to 99% for gold.

More sustainable sparkle

The shift to recycled metals for Pandora has run in tandem with changes in diamond sourcing.

Pandora launched its first product range using only lab-grown diamonds in 2022. This approach, it stated at the time, reduced the carbon footprint of each diamond by up to 95%.

Using labs instead of mines can also help companies like Pandora to avoid some of the human rights issues associated with traditional diamond supply chains, including community displacement and forced labour.

September 2023 saw Pandora expanding its lab-grown diamonds range in several key markets in time for Christmas shopping.

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