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The Carbon Cost of Silver Jewellery

Posted on March 01 2020

The Carbon Cost of Silver Jewellery

The Paper Coffee Cup has become a carbon-emitting product our generation chooses to avoid in the interest of sustainability. Ever wonder the actual impact we have by saying no to paper cups? Or the positive impact we could have by switching to other sustainable products? Lucky for you, Dána HQ have done the maths on how much carbon emissions you can save by switching to recycled jewellery and the answer will definitely shock you.

To put in terms we're all familiar with, the carbon emissions generated from a Mined Silver Ring is equivalent to the total Carbon Emissions generated from the production of 520 Paper Coffee Cups. Buying a Dána Project Recycled Ring like The Ciorcal, instead, saves on Carbon Emissions equivalent to a whopping 482 paper coffee cups. If you’re curious about the maths behind these statistics, keep reading.

How do we measure Carbon Cost?

You've probably heard of Green House Gases, which are any gas in the atmosphere that absorbs and re-emits heat keeping our planet warmer. To calculate how much an activity heats up our planet we summarise all the different Green House Gases emitted from the activity into the Carbon Dioxide Equivalent or CO2e. We’ll reference Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e) as “Carbon Emissions” throughout the article.

Silver Mining

94%1 of the total Carbon Emissions emitted during the creation of a silver ring are generated during the silver mining process, so we’re going to focus here. Silver mining, along with global economic growth, has been on the increase over the past decade and reached 27,000 metric tonnes mined in 2018. Silver mining isn't the eco-friendliest activity in the world. Not to the mention the habitats destroyed to allow for mines and the water/acids/chemicals used in the process, it's also extremely energy intensive. It involves the initial blasting and drilling of ground rock to acquire silver ore. This ore is then crushed by machinery into a silver rich powder. The powder is treated with water, acid and zinc-based chemicals to separate the silver. Finally, the residual material is heated in gas furnaces at over 1,000 degrees Celsius to burn off impurities. Sounds pretty grizzly, but what are the numbers on Carbon Emissions for silver mining and how does this stack up vs its recycled counterpart?

Every 1 gram of Mined Silver releases 196 grams of Carbon Emissions into our atmosphere, whilst every 1 gram of Recycled Silver releases only 15 grams of Carbon Emissions. This is a massive 93% reduction. Now let's see the Carbon Emissions we can save by switching to a Dána Project Recycled Silver Ring like The Ciorcal, compared to an equal weight silver ring made from non-recycled / mined silver. The results are officially in…

Purchasing a Dána Project Recycled Ring vs. an equal weight silver ring made from mined silver saves 2,360 grams of Carbon Emissions. This figure could be very impressive and compelling, but we here at Dána HQ have never seen or held 2,360 grams of gas, so this can seem completely abstract. Let's take these figures down to earth and compare to something more meaningful, something most of us see every day, the Paper Coffee Cup.

Paper Coffee Cup Equivalent of a Dána Project Recycled Silver Ring

Seeing as many Millennials / Gen-Zs have boycotted the everyday Paper Coffee Cup in the name of sustainability, we're going to equate the Carbon Emission savings from choosing a Dána Project Recycled Ring, in terms of the Carbon Emissions generated from the production of a Paper Coffee Cup. To coin a new phrase, the "Paper Coffee Cup Equivalent".

To find the Paper Coffee Cup Equivalent emissions of each of the rings discussed, we simply divided the Carbon Emissions created from each ring by the Carbon Emissions created by a Paper Coffee Cup.

To reiterate, the carbon emissions generated from a Mined Silver Ring is equivalent to the total Carbon Emissions generated from the production of 520 Paper Coffee Cups. Buying a Dána Project Recycled Ring instead, saves on Carbon Emissions equivalent to a whopping 482 paper coffee cups.

Using a reusable coffee cup is a great initiative to help the sustainability cause, but our carbon footprint stretches well beyond our morning caffeine hit. Many consumer activities, just like purchasing jewellery, can have a surprisingly high carbon cost. If you’re in the market for a new piece of jewellery, spare a thought towards the origin of the silver. As you can see from this article, it can have a big impact.

Help us Change the Jewellery Industry

Passionate about sustainability? Love jewellery? Our mission is to change the traditional jewellery industry and make sustainable practices such as using recycled materials the norm, but we need your help. Check out our mission page to see how you can help us change the jewellery industry.

 

 

(1) Greenhouse Gas Emission in Jewelry Industry: A Case Study of Silver Flat Ring - Environmental Research Institute, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand & Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

(2) Life Cycle Assessment of Metals: A Scientific Synthesis - Center for Industrial Ecology, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America

(3) Climate impact of paper cups - Technical Research Centre of Finland

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