The Portuguese cork producer Amorim has published a report showing a comparison of the environmental impacts and energy used to produce aluminium, plastic and cork materials and the carbon emissions involved.
Cork oak forests and the natural cork products derived from them are a major carbon sink and have an important role in sustainable development.
The crucial role of cork in carbon dioxide retention, preserving biodiversity and combating desertification was highlighted in the report on sustainability, published recently by the company.
In comparison, the mining and extraction of non-renewable resources such as petrochemicals and bauxite (used to produce aluminium) have very significant potentially negative impacts on ecosystems. Indeed, the report says, the primary production of a ton of aluminium emits on average 12 tons of CO2 and the industrial process of transforming aluminium into a final product (e.g. screwcap) gives rise to further CO2 emissions. Further high energy consumption is also required if the plastics and aluminium end products are eventually recycled.
Cork on the other hand is a renewable and non-polluting resource produced every 9 years without damaging the cork tree. It is 100% recyclable and requires very low energy consumption since a significant part of the energy needs for production is satisfied using biomass.