Latest study confirms negative carbon footprint for Amorim cork stoppers

28 April 2020

Sparkling wine stoppers with two natural cork discs have the highest CO2 retention in the whole closure industry

A brand-new study, assessing the CO2 retention rates with a cradle-to-gate methodology that measures everything from forest floor to finished stopper, concludes that cork closures are a major ally in the wine industry’s battle for sustainability.

One single natural cork stopper is now proven to capture up to 309 grammes of CO2, while a sparkling wine stopper can retain even more at 562 grammes. This means that cork closures can offset the carbon footprint of glass bottles, a key packaging element of the all-important, profitable premium wine market.

To analyse the complete environmental footprint of both whole natural cork and two-disc sparkling wine stoppers, a study incorporating a life cycle assessment (LCA) was commissioned by Corticeira Amorim, and conducted by EY consultants during December 2019,.(The study was based on the ISO 14040/44 standards (ISO, 2006), together with guidelines from the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook - General guide for Life Cycle Assessment - Detailed guidance (EC-JRC, 2010).

This vital CO2 retention capability comes at no extra cost – it is embedded in the very nature of cork, and is a benefit to which every winery is entitled. Given the fact that more than 70% of the value created by cork overall comes from wine stoppers, without these products, the 2.2 million hectares of native cork forests across seven countries in the Western Mediterranean basin – one of the world’s 35 biodiversity ‘hot spots’ - would not exist as we know them now.

“This is great news for our products’ competitive place in the market- but this news will not be fully realized until it is shared with our customers. They are the ones that make this unique cork environmental performance possible. With such high levels of CO2 retention, our Amorim products are fast becoming the go-to partners for wineries around the world looking to deliver brands with a much more positive and sustainable impact.” explains Carlos de Jesus, Amorim’s Head of Marketing and Communications.

Different life cycle stages under a cradle-to-gate approach were studied. The processes included forest management activities, cork treatment stages including transport from the forest, and natural cork stoppers production, finishing & packaging. For a fair comparison with previous studies, the distribution of the product from Portugal to the UK was also included, together with additional information regarding carbon sequestration from the cork oak forests.

Impacts relating to the production and consumption of raw materials, plus energy process emissions, water consumption, waste production and transport at each stage were assessed - all of which are considered categories typically used in cork products. (The LCA methods used were aligned with the recommendation from Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) for still and sparkling wine product environmental footprints (PEF) issued by the European Commission in 2018.)


About Corticeira Amorim:

Corticeira Amorim is the leading world producer of cork products, having been involved in the sector since 1870. The company’s product portfolio covers various sectors, including, among others, wine, construction, flooring, aeronautics, automotive and footwear. It has implemented an integrated production process that ensures that no cork is wasted, and it supports various initiatives for collecting and recycling cork stoppers across five continents.

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