Each year, between 10-15% of all raw materials we use are metals. We are working to reduce the environmental impacts of our metal consumption by investing in low-impact, recycled or recyclable metals.
The majority of metals we use go into our Falabella bag chains, made from brass – an alloy of copper and zinc.
And although metal is a small amount of our overall material usage, it has one of the highest impacts of all our materials. Our 2016 EP&L report showed that 13% of our total environmental impact was a result of our use of metals, and 97% of all our metal impacts were due to brass.
One of the biggest environmental impacts associated with brass comes from the mining of copper.
Copper does not break down in the environment, and high levels of it can sometimes be found in the ground and water sources surrounding mines. The biggest impact of metal extraction is water pollution and the levels of copper within local water sources leads to acidification, which kills plant and animal life and can cause serious health issues for workers in the mining industry. This is of course not the case with every mine but it is a concern that we are well aware of.
As brass is an alloy, it means that although it can be recycled, the quality of the recycled product diminishes. And because we believe all of our products should be of the highest quality, we are typically, not able to use high quantities of recycled brass.
However, we have now developed a stainless-steel and an aluminium alternative that we use for some of our chains. These chains have a lower environmental footprint as there is no copper mining involved and they use more sustainable coating processes.
And, because we create products that are built to last, we see the brass we do use, as a precious material.Our Falabella bags stay with our customers for years.