Reducing the Carbon Emissions with Eco-Friendly Jewelry
The recent covid-19 outbreak has altered people's behavior all around the world. They are now increasingly concerned not just with health and cleanliness, but also with environmental changes caused by natural catastrophes and global warming, both of which have become important challenges affecting their everyday life. People are beginning to favor products and services from firms that emphasize sustainability, social responsibility, and environmental friendliness as a result. This tendency drives producers in various industries, including gem and jewelry, to develop more responsible supply chains in order to contribute to the problem's resolution.
From Greenhouse Gas Issue to Carbon Reduction
Greenhouse gases are often produced by both natural and human activity. Nevertheless, since the industrial revolution, there has been a rise in demand for electricity and thermal energy, resulting in increasing use of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas, which accounts for more than 85% of carbon emissions. Deforestation and land usage account for around 9% of the total, with the remainder coming from industrial manufacturing, transportation, and other activities. This air pollution depletes the ozone layer, which protects the earth's surface, resulting in global warming or climate change.
"In 2022, coal accounted for over 40% of total fossil fuel use,
followed by oil (32%), natural gas (21%), and others (7%)."
In the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, scientists informed that the carbon emission from fossil fuel burning was at the highest record of 37.5 billion tons in 2022. The economic recovery accelerated the use of coal and oil, resulting in a 1% increase in overall carbon emissions. It is estimated that if emissions continue at this rate, in the next nine years, the global temperature will increase by 1.5oC compared with the time before the industrial revolution (1850-1900).
Several attempts have been made following the conference. For example, every country is demanded to help maintain the global temperature within less than a 1.5oC increase compared to the pre-industrial revolution period by the year 2050. The emphasis is also put upon the promise of member countries in COP26 to raise a fund of 100 billion US dollars per year, reduce the use of coal, and stop using inefficient fossil fuels. Over 137 countries around the world are sharing the commitment to working towards carbon neutrality, around 90% of which set their deadline in 2050, including Thailand.
Another intriguing effort is the European Union's collective global warming campaign, the European Green Deal, which aims to decrease carbon emissions by 50-55% by 2030 and to zero by 2050. To achieve this goal, various measures are implemented, such as improving greenhouse gas emission rights and trading systems; promoting green transportation by land, sea, and air; developing tax policy with a special rate for environmentally friendly businesses; determining the target share of renewable energy; and establishing a target for greenhouse gas absorption. The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) will likewise go into force on October 1st, 2023. Importers of non-EU products in six categories, including cement, energy, fertilizer, iron and steel, aluminum, and hydrogen, must report greenhouse gas emissions per product unit during its whole lifespan in the first phase (Carbon Footprint). Originally, no additional duties or taxes will be collected in connection with this issue until 2026.
Carbon Reduction Measures in Gem and Jewelry Industry
In 2022, the top five sectors contributing to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were electricity generation and heat energy (15.83 billion tons per year), transportation (8.43 billion tons per year), manufacturing and construction (6.3 billion tons per year), agriculture (5.79 billion tons per year), and food retail (3.1 billion tons per year). Although the gem and jewelry sector is not one of the highest emitting industries, the upstream process of gemstone and precious metal mining emits the most carbon when compared to all other processes in its supply chain. According to the World Gold Council's assessment of the carbon footprint in gold production, the upstream mining process generates 36% of direct carbon emissions (Scope 1), 43% of indirect emissions from electricity used in the production process (Scope 2), and 21% of indirect emissions from other processes (Scope 3). Upstream industry is thus the primary source of nearly all carbon emissions.
Figure 1: Global gold market GHG emissions
Companies in this area have begun to focus on environmental challenges in recent years. As a consequence, they optimize their production process, employ clean alternative energy, recycle materials, and help to repair the mines' surrounding ecosystem. Numerous business associations have pledged to work toward carbon neutrality by 2030. For example:
Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC)
The Responsible Jewelry Council, a non-profit organization, is a pioneer in setting gem and jewelry production standards throughout the whole supply chain. It has around 1,577 members from various industries, including mining, gemstone polishing, jewelry manufacture, wholesale and retail, and trade groups. The RJC issued the RJC CoP in 2015, which is based on the United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) combined with requirements in six objectives: (1) general requirements; (2) responsible supply chain, human rights, and due diligence; (3) labor rights and working conditions; (4) health, safety, and environment; (5) gold, silver, platinum, diamond, and colored stone products; and (6) responsible mining. These goals, like the SDGs, are targeted to be accomplished by 2030.
RJC CoP based on SDGs HTTPS://responsiblejewellery.com/action/partnerships/sdgs/
Watch & Jewelry Initiative (WJI 2030)
WJI 2030 was founded in October 2021 as a result of a cooperation between Cartier and Kering. It adheres to three main principles: (1) building climate resilience - aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent more than a 1.5oC increase in global temperature by 2030, and reaching Net Zero by 2050; (2) preserving resources - tracking impacts on biodiversity and water across key raw material sourcing and measuring negative effects with a credible science-based' framework; and (3) fostering inclusiveness - developing approaches to ensure inclusiveness.
Boucheron, Chanel, CIBJO, Eurodiamonds, GIA, Gucci, IWC Schaffhausen, PANDORA, Panerai, Rosy Blue, Rubel & Ménasché, Swarovski, and UFBJOP are among the companies involved in this campaign. WJI 2030 also collaborates with RJC to raise awareness of its implementation in a more tangible manner. It recently teamed with the UN Global Compact (UNGC), a corporate sustainability effort, to create the SME SDG 2030 solution lab for sustainability to give education on sustainable development goals (SDGs) for SME entrepreneurs, who make up more than 70% of those in this industry.
SCS Global Services (SCS)
SCS is the world’s leading organization on environmental and sustainability standards. It monitors, tests, and develops the SCS-007 standard based on five pillars of sustainability: verified origin traceability, ethical stewardship, verified climate neutrality, sustainable production practices, and sustainability investments. This standard covers the certification of both natural and synthetic diamonds. Moreover, SCS also collaborates with the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), the global organization which promotes social and environmental responsibility in artisanal and small-scale mining enterprises, as well as supports the quality of life for miners and communities. Both organizations also announced their agreement to expand the scope of the SCS-007 standard to include certifications of gold from artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM).
SCS-007 is the standard that provides significant benefits to synthetic diamonds due to the vast quantity of power required in their creation. China and India are the world's leading manufacturers of synthetic diamonds, accounting for 56% and 15% of worldwide output, respectively. They require coal to generate energy, which directly influences carbon emissions, therefore most synthetic diamond items on the market are not environmentally beneficial. The SCS-007 is certified by SCS, an independent organization that is not a participant in this business. External experts do the review to assure the integrity and non-biased judgments so that this standard may gain customer trust.
SCS-007 Symbol HTTPS:// ecorocksyork.com
Etsy is the world's most popular online marketplace for handicrafts and antique items, and it is utilized by sellers of this sort of jewelry all around the world. Its key advantages are minimal fees and simple web design. Etsy has also attempted to minimize the environmental impact of its products and services (carbon footprint) since its inception, based on the approach developed by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a group of scientists and experts who provide guidance and assistance to businesses on how to address the climate change issue.
"Etsy aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2030."
Moreover, Etsy is implementing carbon-cutting steps in three areas: (1) reducing direct greenhouse gas emissions; (2) reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy consumption; and (3) reducing additional indirect greenhouse gas emissions. The target for 2030 is to accomplish a 50% decrease in Scopes 1 and 2, and a 52% reduction in Scope 3, and then to continue until a 100% reduction is achieved. The endeavor includes activities within its own office, the use of certified green or recycled packaging by its vendors, and the call for nations worldwide to develop rules or policies to minimize carbon emissions from transportation.
Thailand’s Participation in Carbon Reduction
A large number of Thai jewelry manufacturers are original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or original design manufacturers (ODMs), which must closely follow the approaches of their business partners, including the use of raw materials from sustainable sources devoid of human rights violations. Thailand also has the seventh highest number of RJC members at 82, after Italy (251), the United States (217), India (200), Switzerland (187), France (174), and Belgium (112) (as of February 2023).
The Pranda Group
Pranda is a major, long-established jewelry brand in this industry, with experience and global reputation. It is also an RJC member that supports sustainable business practices in a practical manner. By implementing the following initiatives, the corporation intends to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2024 and 25% by 2030, with the ultimate objective of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
1. Effectively manage solar energy and the air conditioning system
2. Use a reverse osmosis (RO) filtering system to manage water.
3. Reduce waste and pollution by establishing a waste bank to collect and sort various types of garbage, encouraging waste sorting and reuse, and encouraging the use of biodegradable packaging made of bioplastic.
4. Minimize greenhouse gas emissions in its manufacturing process by conserving energy in its workplace, putting solar panels on its headquarters rooftop, and using electric automobiles.
Pranda Jewelry has garnered multiple accolades for good governance, the environment, and social sustainability as a result of its dedication to developing a sustainable business.
IMAGE FROM HTTPS://www.pranda.com
Regal Jewelry was established in 1989 as an OEM and ODM with clientele in over 25 countries. Innovations and cutting-edge technology enhance its monthly output to one million pieces. In addition, the firm promotes transparency and ethical practices by applying the Signet Responsible Sourcing Protocol (SRSP) in its diamond, gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum sourcing to ensure that the commodities originate from transparent and conflict-free origins.
IMAGE FROM HTTPS://www.regal-jewelry.com
Regal Jewelry is also a member of the following important organizations: (1) RJC – its guidelines are applied to ensure a sustainable supply chain and compliance with human rights and environmental protection standards. (2) The Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) or SEDEX is an organization and management system for labor protection and safe working conditions. Its members must pass the audit in four critical criteria, which are labor standards, health & safety, environment, and business ethics. (3) amfori BSCI is a leading commerce association working on free trade and sustainability based upon the principles of human rights, children’s rights, and social responsibility. As a result, consumers can be confident that products from Regal Jewelry are manufactured in accordance with international standards, ethical practices, and environmental protection.
Finally, the gem and jewelry business is one of the industries that has raised awareness and launched measures to promote sustainable and environmentally friendly operations. It is critical that many firms and organizations in this field adhere to this purpose since the environmental issue is not only the responsibility of one individual but requires a collaborative effort from all parties to preserve and safeguard the planet we live in.
Writer: Budhiphorn Vichaidist
Editor: Wandee Mansrisuk
The Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (Public Organization)