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Cork is the bark of the cork oak (Quercus Suber L.), and is therefore a 100 % natural plant tissue.
Cork is harvested every nine years with no trees being felled during the process, and it gives rise to a range of products, from traditional ones through to innovative and unexpected ones, where the cork stopper is first and foremost. However, not all cork has the necessary characteristics to become this magnificent object.
It takes 25 years until each cork oak can be harvested for the first time, and it is only after the third harvest (at the 43 year mark) that the cork, then called “amadia”, has the quality required to manufacture stoppers.
The first two harvests – “virgin” and “secondary” cork -, as well as the one taken from the base of the tree, produce raw material for insulation, flooring and products for fields as diverse as construction, fashion, design, healthcare, power generation or even the aerospace industry.
The harvest is done by highly skilled professionals and always takes place between May and August, when the tree is in its active growth phase and it is easier to harvest without injuring the tree trunk. The cork oak is the only tree whose bark self-regenerates, acquiring a smoother texture after each harvest. It can be harvested about 17 times over an average lifespan of 200 years.
It is estimated that oak forests capture more than 73 tonnes of CO2 for every tonne of cork produced, a valuable contribution to reducing greenhouse gases, the main source of climate change.
Equally surprising is the fact that cork oaks increase the retention capacity for these gases during the natural regeneration process that follows cork harvesting – a stripped cork oak captures, on average, five times more CO2. The ability to retain carbon dioxide also extends to processed cork products, which continue to offer this CO2 sequestration capability.
These forests are one of the best examples of balance between environmental conservation and sustainable development – just the fact that no tree is felled during the cork harvesting process is unique in terms of sustainability.
Cork stoppers are biodegradable and absorb CO2, but their life is not over after a bottle is open.
Reusing and recycling allows the lifespan of the cork stopper to be extended and contributes to a better world.