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Gold Star: Pandora Hits Recycled Metals Target 12 Months Early

LONDON — Pandora has been outstripping expectations, achieving higher-than-expected sales growth in 2023, and shifting fully to recycled silver and gold a year ahead of schedule.

The Danish jewelry giant said Monday it has completed “a full transition” of its precious metals supply and is now sourcing only recycled silver and gold for its jewelry.

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In 2020 the company had set a target of sourcing 100 percent recycled silver and gold by 2025. Pandora said it reached that goal at the end of 2023, “thanks to strong commitment” from its suppliers.

Allowing time for the depletion of existing inventory, Pandora said it expects to start crafting all new jewelry using recycled silver and gold from the second half of this year. In 2023, 97 percent of the silver and gold sourced for Pandora’s jewellery was recycled, the company said.

Pandora said the switch “avoids significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions,” as mining requires more energy and resources than recycling, which reduces carbon emissions by two-thirds for silver, and by more than 99 percent for gold.

By sourcing recycled metals, Pandora said it avoids around 58,000 tons of CO2 a year, which it compared to the annual electricity use of 11,000 homes, or driving 6,000 cars around the world.

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

Pandora is not the only demi-fine jeweler that’s expanding its use of recycled precious metals, or transitioning altogether.

Monica Vinader works with only recycled gold and silver, while the vast majority of Mejuri’s precious metals are also salvaged. Missoma has also created specific collections made entirely from non-mined precious metals.

Pandora said all of its suppliers have had to switch their operations and are compelled to source materials that are “certified recycled,” according to the Responsible Jewellery Council Chain of Custody, one of the strictest standards in the industry.

“For many, this has introduced new processes and equipment to ensure complete segregation of mined and recycled metals across the entire supply chain including sorting, melting and manufacturing,” said the company, adding that more than 100 Pandora employees have been involved in the transition work since 2000.

Pandora noted that less than 20 percent of the world’s silver supply comes from recycled sources, such as discarded electronics, old jewelry, silverware, manufacturing scrap and waste from other industries.

In an interview, Mads Twomey-Madsen, senior vice president, sustainability, at Pandora, said the company made a herculean effort to achieve its 100 percent recycled metals goal.

“We had to define the right operating model, engage with all our silver and gold suppliers, and audit more than 40 sites to see who could meet our high standards,” he said.

“For suppliers, it meant switching their operations to source from [Responsible Jewellery Council Chain of Custody] certified recycled materials. This meant introducing additional processes and equipment, especially to ensure they segregate any mined or non-certified materials from ours,” Twomey-Madsen added.

Those major shifts needed to happen across their entire supply chain, including sorting, melting and manufacturing. Twomey-Madsen said some suppliers needed to set up new, separate production lines or purchase new furnaces to ensure there was proper segregation of recycled materials.

Twomey-Madsen estimated that, going forward, the annual cost of working with recycled metals will be around $10 million.

“To us, this investment is the necessary and right thing to do in order to lower the carbon footprint of our company. Silver is our main raw material, so by doing this we address the biggest CO2 factor in our business,” he said.

With that goal already achieved, the company has shifted its focus to other fronts.

Twomey-Madsen said Pandora is working to halve its total carbon emissions by 2030. “Shifting to recycled silver and gold is a big part of that journey. For our own operations, we aim to be carbon neutral by 2025 and we’re on track for that,” he said.

Pandora is also racing ahead with regard to revenue growth. As reported earlier this month, the company released its preliminary results for 2023 nearly a month ahead of schedule on the back of strong revenue, boosted by the holiday period.

In the three months ended Dec. 31, organic revenue grew 12 percent to $1.58 billion, while like-for-like sales were up 9 percent.

The strong fourth-quarter performance lifted full-year organic growth to 8 percent, above the previously communicated guidance. Full-year 2023, revenue was 28.1 billion Danish kroner, or $4.12 billion.

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