Mar 19, 2010
Science Scene - Cork Harvesting
"First and foremost, the trees are not cut down; the outer bark is harvested, by hand, every 9 years. This allows the tree to consume 10 tons more carbon dioxide," explains Patrick Spencer to mongabay.com. "The trees in these managed forests live 250-300 years. In maintaining sustainable farming practices, farmers ensure the health of the cork tress in this fragile eco-system."
Spencer is the director of an organization called Cork ReHarvest, which has provided another reason to buy cork: it's recyclable.
"Cork is a natural, environmentally friendly product," Spencer says. "By recycling cork, we reduce the amount of product going into landfills and create 'green jobs'. The recycling also brings awareness to the Mediterranean cork forests and their importance to the planet’s ecological health."
If cork stoppers are replaced by aluminum or plastic caps it will place the rich ecosystems of the cork forests in jeopardy: without providing jobs and income, the forests would likely be converted in many areas. Currently, the cork industry employs 100,000 people across the Mediterranean.
In addition, according to Spencer cork is far and away the 'greenest' option for wine bottles. For example, aluminum screwcaps cannot be recycled like cork because "the plastic closure in the top of the cap and the size of the screwcap make it almost impossible to recycle."
"[Cork] has been the closure of choice for 300 years," Spencer says. "All of the great vintage wines that collectors have purchased or won at auction have been closed with natural cork. Recently, a very rare bottle of Bordeaux sold at auction for $25,000.00. The winner put their faith in that little piece of wood, that the bottle of wine was still drinkable. That should tell you something about cork."
For the entire article and an interview with even more information, click here.