Q: Does cork harvesting kill or damage the tree?
A: No. Cork trees are not harmed when the cork is harvested. The first harvest happens when the cork tree is about 25 years old, then can be repeated every 9 or 10 years until the tree is about 200 years old. This makes natural cork completely sustainable.
Q: Are we running out of natural cork?
A: No. Cork groves in Portugal alone can supply enough natural corks to last more than 100 years.
Q: Are synthetic stoppers better for the environment?
A: No. When you look at the entire production process, synthetic (plastic) stoppers release 10 times more emissions than natural cork.
Q: What about aluminum screw caps?
A: Aluminum screw caps release 24 times more emissions than natural cork.
Q: How many natural corks are produced each year?
A: Annual production of natural corks is ~13 billion. That’s about 14 million cubic feet of wine corks. That’s enough to fill 69 Goodyear Blimps and a total weight of about 48,000 tons.
Q: Is wildlife displaced by cork harvesting?
A: No. Cork groves provide wildlife habitat for many species, including several endangered species such as the Iberian Lynx, whose population is now around 100 animals, making it the most threatened cat in the world.
Q: Are cork groves good for the environment?
A: Yes. Cork groves absorb atmospheric CO2. Groves in the Andalusian forests of Spain alone absorb over 16 million tons. Because CO2 is stored in the cork bark, trees that are harvested absorb 3 to 5 times more CO2 than trees that are not harvested. Cork groves also help combat the steady expansion of deserts around the mediterranean.
Q: Will increased use of synthetic stoppers and aluminum screw caps reduce the pressure on natural cork production?
A: If demand for natural cork drops because of increased use of synthetic or aluminum stoppers there is a risk that cork groves will be replaced with quick cash crops. This will result in a loss of a low-impact, renewable, sustainable forestry practice and all of its related environmental benefits. The net effect will be accelerated environmental impacts.