For every ring that is made, gold mining generates approximately 20 tons of waste. Most of the world’s gold deposits consist of microscopic specks that must be chemically extracted from rocks using thousands of gallons of cyanide. As the largest retailer of jewelry in the world, we see an opportunity to bring more sustainable practices to this industry, and we are working toward that goal through our Jewelry Network.
We want to have the confidence that the gems and minerals in our jewelry are extracted, refined, manufactured and sold in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible way. This encompasses everything from promoting safe labor practices, to minimizing the local and ecological impact. Reaching these goals requires complete transparency in the supply chain. To achieve this much needed transparency, we are changing the way we interact with our suppliers and working to better understand our supply chains. We are also expanding our partnership efforts to include not only manufacturers, but also the mining companies themselves.
We have made some significant progress in the jewelry arena. To begin with, we participate in the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance. Our hope is that this will lead to a widely agreed-upon “certification-type” system for the mining industry, covering environmental, social and human rights issues. We are identifying a diamond mine, a gold mine, a manufacturer and a third-party verification company to produce new products in environmentally sustainable and socially conscious ways, and to test more transparent supply chain practices.
In addition, we have laid the groundwork to test gold recycling, and we plan to initiate that project before the year’s end. We are also working to make sure the packaging and distribution of jewelry is more sustainable. So far, we are switching to biodegradable pallets and packaging for watches and fragrance, as well as recycled poly bags for fine jewelry. By the end of the year, we intend to switch to biodegradable bags for fine jewelry.
To achieve true progress in this arena, we know that we need to have the metrics in place to measure results. As we look to the future, our goal is to better manage our progress by developing measurements for the following:
- Products with traceable gems and metals;
- Recycled metals in products; and
- Use of recycled or biodegradable packaging.
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Facts and Figures
For every ring that is made, gold mining generates approximately 20 tons of waste.
Most of the world's gold deposits consist of microscopic specks that must be chemically extracted from rocks using thousands of gallons of cyanide.