Cork to the rescue

21 November, 2008

The first independent survey on bottle closures has shown cork to be the most environmentally friendly.

The first independent survey on bottle closures has shown cork to be the most environmentally friendly.Auditing group Price Waterhouse Coopers and lifecycle specialist Ecobilan spent a year studying and analysing the environmental impact of cork, plastic and aluminium. The report was commissioned by Corticeira Amorim, who hold 25% of the cork stopper market, and the findings were reviewed by a peer panel that included the Association of Plastics Manufacturers in Europe. The equivalent aluminium generic association declined to participate.The study calculated the impact on non-renewable energy consumption; water consumption; emission of greenhouse gasses; contributions to atmospheric acidification; eutrophication of surface water; and production of solid waste. Of the seven disciplines analysed, cork stoppers produced the best performance in six. In summary, by adding up the ‘scores’ on each discipline, with the qualifications already outlined - in environmental performance, plastic stoppers are roughly nine times more damaging, according to the research, and aluminium closures roughly twenty-two times more damaging than cork stoppers. Looking at greenhouse gas emissions alone, aluminium is 24 times greater than cork, and plastic 9.7 times greater. At the presentation of the research, Dr Miguel Cabral announced that vaporisation for the second treatment of cork, the ROSA system, will be employed in all Amorim production units from December.  Dr Cabral said: We are developing another system, which will use humidity rather than steam to remove volatile TCA from whole natural corks over a longer treatment cycle, thus eliminating colour variations sometimes formed through the original process.”_________________________________________________________________ Next month, the BBC Natural World series will feature a 50-minute television programme 'Cork Forest in a Bottle'.  It will be transmitted on Tuesday 9 December 2008 at 8pm on BBC 2, and repeated on BBC2 on Sunday 14 December also at 8pm        



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