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Unlimited creativity

Cork’s potential is so vast and its characteristics so versatile that every year new ideas and applications arise for this unique material in a wide array of different sectors. In order to support entrepreneurs who are developing cork-related projects and new approaches using this material, Corticeira Amorim has created Amorim Cork Ventures, that aims to foster the creation and development of new cork-related products and businesses. The ideas developed with support from this business incubator include projects that are as different as Sugo Cork Rugs, AsPortuguesas flip flops, and the YogurtNest multifunctional and ecological yoghurt maker. All these projects involve a high degree of innovation, strong sustainability credentials and the ambition to add value to a unique raw material: cork.

Sugo Cork Rugs is the first collection of cork rugs, that combine traditional weaving methods with contemporary design. Because they are woven with cork, these rugs benefit from the core characteristics of this noble material, such as lightness, impermeability, elasticity, thermal and acoustic insulation, slow combustion and minimisation of allergy risks, because cork does not absorb dust and repels mites.

In the case of Yogurtnest, the multifunctional yoghurt maker, the idea was to create a sustainable solution using 100% natural materials, which makes yoghurt more affordable, while significantly contributing to the reduction of the carbon footprint, eliminating the need to use plastic packaging and electricity consumption. In this case, cork’s unique characteristics fulfil all the requirements to create a solution that makes delicious healthy yoghurts, but can also be used as a slow cooker, to make pasta or rice, or as a thermal bag.

Similarly, cork’s insulation properties, as well as its ecological credentials, make it the ideal solution for environmentally-friendly refrigeration equipment. Gröwancork's EIC Easy Insulation Cork solution comprises an expanded cork agglomerate chassis, with sheet metal that can be applied in refrigeration equipment as an ecological alternative to the current polyurethane-injected solutions, with significant energy gains.

One material, multiple advantages

In a wide variety of different areas, cork’s unique characteristics make it possible to create distinctive solutions that offer great environmental benefits as well as important benefits for consumers. This incredible polyvalence becomes particularly clear when we consider the huge range of solutions that use cork’s unique properties to create distinctive proposals.

In the area of ??floor and wall coverings, the launch of the Hydrocork line, the first water-resistant cork flooring solution, marked a turning point in cork flooring. This solution offers all the benefits associated with cork, and is also water-resistant.

At the same time, the versatility of expanded cork agglomerate has enabled it to be used in solutions as different as the football pitches, such as AirFbr technology, and the most innovative sustainable construction projects. These 100% natural solutions – are renewable, while offering unlimited durability, extraordinary technical and acoustic insulation capabilities, as well as lightness and texture, placing cork at the forefront of contemporary architecture.

Absorbents which are sustainable by nature

A single cork stopper can retain up to 112g of CO2, but this is just one example of what cork can do to ensure the equilibrium of the planet. Cork’s excellent absorption capacity and buoyancy prove to be extremely efficient in cases where it is necessary to absorb large quantities of oils, hydrocarbons and other organic solvents and pollutants, both in aquatic and terrestrial environments.

In 2010 Corticeira Amorim launched an innovative range of natural cork-based absorbents for the control and clean-up of oil spills. Marketed under the CorkSorb brand, they are sustainable absorbents, not just because they are produced from a natural product, but due to the fact that they do not have any impact on the environment - contrary to mineral or synthetic absorbents, or even peat.

"As a result of its strong sustainability credentials, the CorkSorb range has been distinguished six times, nationally and internationally. In 2011, it won the Green Project Awards, the Sustainability Innovation Award (EBAEpis) and two of the four prizes in the European Business Awards for the Environment, in the Product and Business and Biodiversity categories. Recognition is also noteworthy on the innovation front, where the Portuguese Award for Environmental Innovation was given in 2010 and the Cotec-Unicer Product Innovation Award, won in 2012."

CorkSorb absorbents are certified by various environmental bodies in Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the USA, and marketed in 26 countries in Europe, Africa, North and South America and Australasia. They are a solution for serious oil spills, such as that of the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and also for the clean-up of day-to-day spills in garages, petrol stations or in industry.

The major innovation of this range of absorbents lies in the fact that they are hydrophobic - after appropriate treatment by Corticeira Amorim, accomplished by clean and environment-friendly processes and 100% sustainable, the cork absorbs large quantities of oils and solvents almost instantaneously, but does not absorb water. This ability makes CorkSorb solutions ideal for use in aquatic environments (rivers, seas, lakes and oceans) or on wet surfaces.

Footwear and fashion accessories

Cork is a natural, comfortable, light and attractive material. It gives a seal of distinction and originality to the items into which it is incorporated, making them more valuable - as it is a natural product, it has its own «fingerprints», making each object made of cork unique. Perhaps this is why it is the choice of an impressive list of luxury brands, such as Christian Louboutin, Diane Von Furstenberg, Stella McCartney, Gucci, Prada, Chloé, Jimmy Choo and Michael Kors, an option which extends to segments where the leading designer brands are Guess, Fly London and Benetton. In the sports arena, Adidas and Nike, as well as Birkenstock, have already surrendered to its versatility to adapt.

The association between cork and footwear is so natural that it is not surprising that the first start up venture launched by Amorim Cork Ventures is developing an innovative brand of cork flip-flops: AsPortuguesas. Combining versatility, lightness and convenience, as well as a unique look, AsPortuguesas constituted a very important first step in stimulating creativity and innovation with cork as a distinctive proposal. Recently, a special edition of these environmentally friendly flip-flops was launched in partnership with Hawaiian surfer Garret McNamara.

In more sophisticated models or those with greater focus on comfort, the Corticeira Amorim offers a wide range of design and technical options which designers and the industry can choose from, according to their needs or fashion trends. For example, cork leather may be used with its natural appearance, but patterns can also be printed on it, following the season's trends or the designers' appeal. It is usually used in the heels, soles and uppers of sandals and shoes, although it is also common for it to be seen in handbags, purses, belts, umbrellas and key rings.

The benefits of cork in terms of technical performance have also made it a feasible option for the sports and orthopaedic footwear segment. Itensures that body weight is better distributed, cushions impact, controls temperature and allows feet to breathe. Corticeira Amorim offers distinctive ranges of cork granulates, cork sheets, rolls, mouldable components and rubber cork, which may be used in insoles and orthopaedic shoes, among other possibilities. All these products are designed to increase walking comfort, reduce foot and leg health problems and improve posture.