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How to give cork a new lease of life - Green Cork

Sustainability 16/10/2017

Recycling

Green Cork is the national programme for selective collection and recycling of cork stoppers, created in partnership with Quercus and other partners. In addition to promoting a new recycling practice in Portugal, this programme supports funding of the Common Forest project, which guarantees the planting of indigenous Portuguese trees, in particular cork oak trees.  

 

1. Challenge

The "Green Cork" project was created with the aim of responding to the following challenges:

  • Promote a new recycling practise in Portugal - recycling of cork stoppers;
  • Extend the CO2 retention period associated with cork stoppers;
  • Raise public awareness of the environmental advantages of cork products in supporting an ecosystem with unique characteristics;
  • Plant trees native to Portuguese woodlands, such as corak oaks, thereby contributing to the value enhancement of one of Europe's richest ecosystems in terms of biodiversity.

 

 2. Context

The Company

Amorim is the world’s largest cork and cork-derived company in the world, generating more than Euro 640 million in sales to more than 100 countries through a network of dozens of fully owned subsidiaries. Amorim’s responsible approach to raw materials and sustainable production illustrates the remarkable interdependence between industry and a vital ecosystem - one of the world’s most balanced examples of social, economic and environmental development.
 
 

Environmental Impact

Cork stoppers ensures the maintenance of the cork oak forest, an ecosystem that in Portugal alone can sequester more than 7.3 million tonnes of CO2 per year *.
Recycling, in addition to increasing reuse of the raw material, extends the cork life cycle and its environmental benefits, in particular its remarkable CO2 retention capacity. It should be noted that, taking into account the carbon sink effect of Portuguese cork oak forests (montado), each natural cork stopper is associated with the retention of 112 grams of CO2.**
  

3. Approach

Green Cork was the first recycling programme to fund nature conservation and recovery initiatives. Cork is a natural raw material, which combines a set of properties that endow it with unparalleled characteristics. It is light, waterproof, elastic and compressible, offers thermal and acoustic insulation, and is a slow combustion material that is highly resistant to wear and tear. In addition, cork is fully biodegradable, renewable, recyclable, reusable and can circulate continuously in the economy

Although it will never be reused in stoppers, recycled cork can have a new lease of life and be used in coverings, insulation, memo boards, surf boards, car and aircraft components, design and fashion items and a multitude of other uses.

4. Results

Between 2009 and 2016 Amorim collected and recycled 295 tonnes of stoppers. By the end of 2016, 41,563 trees in various locations throughout the country have been planted.