Reuse, recycle, reduce: Pink Pandora goes green

Pandora’s mascot Winniper is a combination of a lion, giraffe and a bumble bee. These two are for the employees to write on, when they start working for Pandora.

Designed to look like the Danish brand’s famous bracelet with charms, one of Pandora’s two jewellery-making facilities in Thailand, is located just under an hour’s drive south of Chiang Mai in Lamphun, Northern Thailand.

A circular roof construction makes for the bracelet, while connected buildings resemble charms.

Despite being white, the facilities are green and have earned Pandora a spot on the list of environmentally aware businesses.

Leading in LEED

The charm shaped facilities opened on 1 October 2016, merely 16 months after the first sod was cut. The decision to build new production facilities followed the realisation, that the production in Bangkok wasn’t enough to accommodate the demand for the popular jewellery.

Back then, Pandora had just moved its head quarters in Denmark to a different area and new buildings. LEED certified buildings, as the company had decided to keep up with consumer sustainability awareness. So naturally, new facilities in Lamphun also were to obtain a LEED certificate.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED for short is a certificate awarded for businesses who, as the name suggests, consider the environment when building.

To obtain LEED certification there are certain requirements such as waste management, the building process and the materials. The latter are not allowed to travel more than 800 kilometres from origin to construction site.

The cost of all this?

About 15-20 percent of additional costs, Lars R. Nielsen, Pandora’s general manager in Lamphun, estimates.

“It is the right thing to do,” he says.

He adds that the brand was the first jewellery company in Asia to earn a LEED certificate on gold level, meaning that they had gone the extra mile in green construction.

Pandora Lamphun is shaped like a bracelet of roof with office buldings for charms. In the middle is a lake. Photo: Pandora

A pleasant temperature

The creativity was sparking at the architectural table and Pandora’s new environmental profile was a part of the design from the get-go.

The “bracelet”, or circle of roof, acts to provide shade to avoid employees going straight from the sun to the inside. Office buildings make up “the charms”.

The centrepiece of the Pandora charm construction is a lake.

It was decided to reestablish the existing water canals. Furthermore, rain water is collected for reuse. The water is used when possible such as for production, cooling and toilet flushing.

General manager at Pandora Lamphun, Lars R. Nielsen.

All roofs on the premises are white, as it minimises the intake of sunlight and thus the need for aircondition.

The air is cleaned constantly, but rather than taking air from the outside which needs to be cooled, it is sucked up, cleaned and reused through large ducts. All metal dust collected is also reused.

Air ducts suck up metal dust and air, which is then cleaned and reused.

Where the roof isn’t white, it is covered by solar panels. A total of 8,500 square metres of panels which provide 13-15 percent of the production’s energy usage.

“We would like to be one hundred percent self-sufficient,” Lars R. Nielsen says.

He explains that the obstacle lies in Thailand’s strict regulations on excess green energy which is usually fed to a grid system to be sold or used later. The general manager is hopeful that the rules will change in the future, and Pandora’s energy consumption will get even greener.

Winniper

Upon entering each office building, it’s mandatory to take off your shoes. It is so, because employees felt it added a homely feeling and thus wanted to keep it that way even after construction was finished and it was no longer necessary in order to avoid dragging dust and dirt inside.

In general, it’s very calm at Pandora, and not just because everyone is wearing slippers in the offices. It is exceptionally quiet, and to save energy on light, the buildings are darker than your average offices. Instead, the walls are light, and there are high ceilings which together with large windows add extra light.

Pandora also tries to improve the work environment for employees. One method is having their own radio chanel, that plays music through overhead speakers twice a day. Employees can volunteer to DJ.

In every office building is the same mythical creature. It’s Pandora’s mascot if you like. Named by combining the names of Pandora’s founder Per Enevoldsen and his wife Winnie, Winniper is inspired by the African Savannah.

The lion represents pride and teamwork among Pandora employees, just like lions in the wild living in packs. The giraffe represents passion and the larger overview. Finally, the bumble bee is a symbol for a “can do attitude”.

“It doesn’t know that it technically shouldn’t be able to fly,” Lars R. Nielsen says.

Inside one of Pandora’s production rooms.

Recycling ice cubes

Outside, some employees take a break in the shade by the lake surrounded by trees. Upon building, en effort was made to maintain natural plants and trees. Constructors would build around them.

Obviously, in such a green and clean environment, there isn’t a single piece of trash to be found on the ground.

Plaster used for molding are the biggest waste component at Pandora. When used, it is cleaned, dried and sold for cement.

Beside the regular recycle and general waste separation bins, is an odd one. A bin for ice cubes. When people throw out cups with ice cubes, the water ends up using space, and it can’t be reused. Throw it in a separate bin dedicated for melted water, and the problem is solved.

“The employees are happy to separate their trash,” Lars R. Nielsen says.

Pandora reuses or resells trash when possible, which is the case for about 93 percent of the company’s waste.

The unique silikone molds are melted and sold to China for plastic toy production and the company’s biggest waste sinner, plaster, is processed and dried to be resold for cement.

Pandora’s jewellery is shipped to Europe, North America and Asia. While the two former are packed in cardboard boxes, the Asian deliveries are packed in green plastic boxes, which are then returned to Pandora. The same goes for individual plastic packaging as far as possible. Indivdual packaging remains an issue for Pandora, as the solution to cutting down on the plastic is yet to be found.

Big Heart Spirit

Part of Pandora’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy involves repaying the local community. So, apart from rethinking how to best clean jewellery and dispose of or reuse waste in a green way, Pandora has also turned its attention outside of its own four walls.

“When you’re a new company, it’s important to establish a good relationship with the local community,” Lars R. Nielsen explains.

This is why Pandora in 2017 decided to finance a disabled organic farming project in the near-by area. A local monk had donated the land and the Danish company wanted to support it as well.

Some of the organic, local crops can be found at Pandora’s own canteen.

Each employee has their own cup to refill with water throughout the day, so they won’t need to buy plastic bottles.

If some of the 4,032 employees feel like offering their own hand in further assistance, they can do so through Pandora’s Big Heart Spirit project.

Essentially, Pandora will inform employees about local projects which they can then sign up to help out with.

“We have planted trees in cooporation with local places, we have painted schools, built dams and helped clean up,” Lars R. Nielsen says to name a few of the projects.

“We are constantly trying to be better, and helping the local community makes sense to the employees.”

 

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