“When my husband finally received his treatment, the doctors in Santiago told us there was too much arsenic in his blood — twice the allowed amount” – a quote from a Chilean national who was affected by toxic mining waste. Have you ever wondered how your jewellery was made? Where it comes from? or the larger impact of mining-based jewellery? Did you also know that choosing recycled silver over regular silver could help in so many ways, as it is far less damaging to the environment. It can aid in the preservation of plants, animal life and ecosystems, by reducing Co2 emissions, toxic waste, and energy consumption. Recycled silver, and in fact all recycled metals, offer a more sustainable solution to the great environmental problem we face today, and stories like the one above could be avoided.
Almost every industry in the world today has prioritized their profits which could result in unethical employment and procedures, and the jewellery industry is no exception, with some companies opting to produce in low-wage third world countries, and unsustainable toxic waste dumping. Silver comes from non-renewable natural resources, during the process of mining and extraction a vast amount of electricity and energy is depleted, not to mention the ongoing smelting and processing operations, which also emit a significant amount of greenhouse gases. The majority of these gases are a result of processing raw materials, in 2016 the fashion industry contributed to around 5% of all man-made greenhouse gases, and by 2018 that number has increased to 8%, with an upward trend.
Metal mines usually consume thousands of acres of land and most of these mines are located in the Amazon rainforests, thus causing deforestation and environmental instability. However, the process of recycling metal consumes far less energy and resources than mining them, which leads to preservation of natural resources, as manufacturing new products from virgin raw materials consumes significantly more energy. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries claims that recycling metal can cut harmful emissions, that cause global warming, by around 300 to 500 million tons, and recycling sterling silver is no different.
The process of recycling silver
At TREEM we continuously aim to uphold a sustainable supply chain, with a focus on equality and fair working conditions in every part of our business. We source our recycled metals from “Norsk Svensk Guld AB”, by using a process known as a large-scale recycling method, which involves obtaining large amounts of scrap silver as well as extracting silver from other scrap metals, and recycling it for reuse. Sterling Silver, for example, could be separated from the other metals it is combined with, like copper or zinc, and then repurposed. Once the silver is separated from the other metals , it is melted down and reused to make new silver products. And, the good news is that up-cycled Silver does not lose any purity during the recycling and extraction processes, hence the guaranteed high level of quality.
Impact on the Environment
At TREEM we always challenge the norm, and in this case, we firmly stand against the continued abuse towards the environment. We strive to continuously improve our sustainable initiatives, one of which is the use of up-cycled silver instead of newly mined silver, and our ongoing work to increase the percentage of up-cycled gold.
The use of up-cycled silver vastly reduces the waste caused by metal mines, which according to Greenmatters, the reduction of that waste is an incredible 97%. Hence one can deduce that recycling silver instead of mining it helps preserve the ecosystem of the Amazon rainforests. In TREEM, we are part of saving almost half a tonne of virgin Silver mining, as our foundry orders 400kg of upcycled Sterling Silver each year. On top of that, we recycle and reuse 65kg of waste metal annually, by sweeping scrap metal from under each gold smith’s working station.
Ghandi said “Be the change you want to see in the world”. In TREEM we work everyday to be that change and we want to empower you to be that change too. We only have one home-Earth, only together do we have the strength to turn this around and make a change for the better – together we are stronger.